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Deputies look for tips on hotel robber

Authorities say he carries an automatic pistol and has committed nine hotel robberies.

By LORRI HELFAND
Published February 27, 2004

The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office is seeking the public's help in catching a man who committed nine hotel robberies in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties over the past three months.

Detectives say the man usually entered the hotels between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. and demanded cash from the front desk before fleeing on foot. In some cases, he brandished a large silver-colored automatic pistol.

"We're concerned about his actions," said Mac McMullen, Sheriff's Office spokesman. "For one, he's displaying a firearm. And he's done this more than once so there is a concern about violence."

On Thursday, the robber struck the Comfort Inn at 3580 Ulmerton Road. He first entered the hotel and inquired about a room, then left. He returned to the hotel at 2:12 a.m. wearing a different shirt. He displayed a gun with a silver barrel, leapt over the counter and demanded money from the clerk. He left the hotel with an undisclosed amount of money and was last seen wearing a gray T-shirt and tan pants. The suspect was taped during this encounter, McMullen said.

Detectives believe the man began the string of robberies on Nov. 11, when he robbed the Chase Suite Hotel in Tampa. And he began his spree in Pinellas County on Dec. 16, when he robbed the Homewood Suites at 2233 Ulmerton Road.

The suspect has concentrated mostly on two areas. He hit the Holiday Inn Express in Tampa twice and Homewood Suites in the Largo area three times.

"There is an oddity to that pattern," McMullen said.

The robber struck the Homewood Suites again on Jan. 5 and again on Tuesday.

Witnesses describe the suspect as a black male with a light complexion and freckles on his nose and cheeks. They say he may be in his early to late 20s, weighing 150 to 180 pounds, 5 feet 8 to 5 feet 10, and with a thin mustache and balding brown or black hair.

TO HELP:

Anyone with information concerning the robberies is asked to call the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, (727) 582-6200, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-873-8477.

[Last modified February 27, 2004, 01:31:31]


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