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By Times staff writers

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 3, 2000

Man suspected in robbery of bank, Eckerd drug store

ST. PETERSBURG -- A man who showed a clerk the butt of a handgun robbed an Eckerd drug store at 8001 Dr. M.L. King (Ninth) St. N in St. Petersburg about 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

The man quickly walked out of the store with an unidentified amount of cash and escaped in a dark pickup truck that possibly was a Ford Ranger, police said Friday.

Police said the man also may be responsible for the armed robbery of a SouthTrust Bank at 3700 Fourth St. N in St. Petersburg on Dec. 28.

The man who robbed the Eckerd is described as a white male between the age of 40 and 50, 5 foot 9 to 5 foot 10, weighing 225 pounds or more. He had dark hair with a full, neatly trimmed mustache. He was wearing a dark cap, a dark T-shirt with slightly lighter slacks or jeans and light sneakers.

Anyone with information about either robbery may call St. Petersburg police Detective Steve Corbett at 893-7252.

Airliner makes unscheduled landing after engine trouble

TAMPA -- A Boeing 737 with 98 passengers aboard landed safely Friday afternoon at Tampa International Airport after reporting to the tower it had one engine down.

Continental Airlines Flight 1759 was on its way from Houston to Venezuela when a gauge indicated oil pressure in one engine might be low, said Continental spokeswoman Karla Villalon. The pilot shut down that engine as a precaution and made an unscheduled landing in Tampa at 5:28 p.m.

Mechanics were examining the plane Friday night and it was expected to return to Houston today. The passengers boarded another plane for Venezuela Friday night.

Tampa area percussionist Ramon Lopez remembered

Ramon H. Lopez, a Tampa latin percussionist known for his powerful hands and a long stint with the Stan Kenton Orchestra, died Monday (May 29, 2000) at the Home Association of natural causes. He was 66.

Born in New York City, Mr. Lopez lived most of his life in Tampa's Ybor City and became a fixture on the local music scene. Coming from a musical family, Mr. Lopez at one time had a musical act with his piano-playing sister Evanglina. They performed in the ethnic social clubs of Ybor City, including Centro Asturiano and the Circulo Cubano.

In the early to mid-1970s, Mr. Lopez recorded and toured with Stan Kenton, a prominent jazz band leader who pioneered the use of Latin rhythms with American jazz orchestras. Entries in the Kenton Orchestra songbook, including Ramon Lopez, were dedicated to him.

He was a member of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church.

He is survived by his wife, Lin; a son, Ramon, Tampa; a daughter, Kimberly MacLean, Land O'Lakes; a sister, Evanglina Otero, Miami; and a granddaughter.

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