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    Tampa Bay briefs

    By Times staff reports

    © St. Petersburg Times,
    published June 22, 2001

    Trio sought in kidnapping, rape

    TAMPA -- Hillsborough sheriff's deputies are looking for three men who kidnapped and raped a woman Wednesday evening.

    The victim was approached about 6 p.m. outside the post office on Sydney Dover Road in east Hillsborough, said sheriff's spokesman Rod Reder. One man, armed with a handgun, forced her into her vehicle. A second man got into her vehicle, while a third followed them in a blue and white sport utility vehicle. Two men raped the woman, then left her in a ditch near County Road 674 and Gill Road, Reder said.

    The suspects were described as Hispanic, 5-feet-7 to 6-feet tall, about 200 pounds, with short black hair.

    Truck's impact fails to open ATM

    TAMPA -- Three young men used a Dodge Dakota pickup truck to smash into a closed convenience store early Thursday in a failed attempt to break into an ATM, police said.

    An officer on patrol in Hyde Park at 4:30 a.m. heard two loud crashes and drove to the Papa Dan's store at 1021 W Swann, police said. He saw three teenagers run from the store when he arrived. No arrests were made.

    Evicted man charged in attack

    TAMPA -- Deputies have charged a 38-year-old man with kicking down the door of a Town 'N Country home Wednesday night and beating two women with his fists and a toy rifle.

    Robert Lee Nickols Jr., of 4727 Steeldust Lane, was arrested outside the home and charged with robbery, attempted murder, aggravated stalking, tampering with a witness and two counts of violation of a domestic violence injunction. He was in jail Thursday without bail.

    Police said he had been evicted from an apartment at a home on Jackson Springs Road and told not to return. An injunction barring him from the property had been issued on June 13, a Hillsborough sheriff's official said.

    But he returned shortly after 8 p.m. Wednesday and attacked a 51-year-old woman and a 73-year-old woman inside the home, reports said. Both were taken to Town & Country Hospital and later released.

    Fire damages Thai restaurant

    TAMPA -- Hanh Nguyen leaned against a wall next to his charred restaurant Thursday, smoking a cigarette and waiting for an insurance representative.

    He watched as damaged equipment was pulled out of the building at 5835 S Dale Mabry highway.

    "All my money was burned," he said.

    An electrical fire early Thursday in the office of Ruen Thai Authentic Cuisine heavily damaged the restaurant Nguyen opened nine months ago. He blamed a fax machine cord for the fire, which caused an estimated $100,000 in damage.

    No one was injured, but a barber shop and computer repair store in the same strip mall were damaged by smoke and water.

    Nguyen said about $8,000 in cash was burned in the fire. He plans to rebuild, but isn't sure what he'll do in the meantime.

    Rains visit bay area, may return for weekend

    Thunderstorms scattered heavy rain and hail Thursday around the Tampa Bay area, and forecasters are predicting a good chance of more storms this weekend.

    Pinellas Park in particular got a dose of intense weather from an early afternoon storm.

    "We had a considerable amount of marble-sized hail and a fair amount of wind," said Pinellas Park Fire Chief Ken Cramer. "I'd say we got a half-inch of rain in a very short period of time."

    Pinellas County officials received only one report of damage: A tree fell on a car along Belcher Road, injuring a man, said David Bilodeau, director of emergency management for Pinellas.

    Volatile thunderstorms also were reported in southern Pasco County and eastern Hillsborough County.

    Forecasters predict a 50 percent chance of rain today and Saturday, with showers and thunderstorms more likely in the morning or early afternoon.

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