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Tampa Bay briefs

By Times staff writers

© St. Petersburg Times, published July 2, 2001

Sunday food mart robbery may be linked to others

Sunday food mart robbery may be linked to others

ST. PETERSBURG -- An armed man wearing a blue bandana robbed a B&N Food Mart about 10:30 a.m. Sunday, and police say the crime may be related to other robberies at area convenience stores. The robber, described as a 5-foot-11 black man wearing a black shirt and black pants, entered the store at 2000 62nd Ave. N and flashed a handgun. The man grabbed a customer standing at the counter and pushed him aside, but the customer retaliated by elbowing the robber, according to Pinellas sheriff's spokesman Cal Dennie. The robber hit the customer over the back of the head with the gun, then leaned over the counter and grabbed an undisclosed amount of cash. He left in what police think might have been a 1981 gold Buick LeSabre. The robbery lasted 30 to 40 seconds, and no one was seriously hurt, Dennie said. The incident marks the ninth robbery this year in St. Petersburg or unincorporated Pinellas that a robber has worn a bandana. Some of the cases involved two robbers.

Man killed in Saturday accident is identified

RUSKIN -- Officials have identified a Tampa man killed in a two-truck accident Saturday at County Road 672 and McGrady Road. Christopher Hall Bradley, 34, a passenger in a pickup truck, was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. The accident occurred when the pickup was heading west on County Road 672 and slowed to make a left turn. Authorities said the pickup was hit from behind by a dump truck trying to pass. Both trucks ran off the road into a ditch, and the dump truck landed on top of the pickup. Jason R. Skinner, the driver of the pickup, who was flown to Tampa General Hospital in critical condition Saturday, was upgraded Sunday to fair condition. Marty J. Boatwright, 37, the other passenger, remained in fair condition. Trevor Ender, 49, the driver of the dump truck, was treated at the scene for cuts and scratches. Authorities are still investigating.

Man injured after diving into shallow water

CLEARWATER -- A 43-year-old Belleair Bluffs resident was injured Sunday when he dived head-first off a boat in shallow water east of the Sand Key bridge, fire rescue officials said. Stephen Gimopoulos was taken by helicopter to Bayfront Medical Center after the accident, which was reported about 3:30 p.m. His friends told rescue officials that Gimopoulos had seen dolphins swimming nearby and plunged in to get a closer look, said Clearwater Fire & Rescue Lt. Patrick Shepler. Rescue officials stabilized Gimopoulos' neck and spine, and a U.S. Coast Guard boat took him to shore. Gimopoulos could move his hands but was unable to move the lower portion of his body after the accident. Gimopoulos was being treated Sunday night, and his condition was not available.

Sarasota woman injured in I-275 traffic accident

ST. PETERSBURG -- A Sarasota resident was injured Sunday after another vehicle cut in front of her on Interstate 275, causing her to lose control of her car. Suzette Lockett's 1998 Saturn overturned near 38th Avenue N, after colliding with a third car driven by Corey Smith, 29, of St. Petersburg. The vehicle that caused Lockett to veer into the front end of Smith's car did not stop after the accident at 4:35 p.m. Witnesses told investigators that the vehicle, which kept heading north, was a small van, possibly white or yellow, with a cargo container on the roof. Lockett, 34, and Smith were taken to Bayfront Medical Center. Lockett was still being treated late Sunday, and Smith was treated and released. Smith's passenger, Clinton Cummings, 24, was arrested on drug-related and contempt of court charges unrelated to the accident.

Tornado causes damage in north Manatee County

PALMETTO -- A tornado overturned three travel trailers, caused minor damage to a mini-storage building on U.S. 41 and killed a dog about 4:30 p.m. Sunday, according to Manatee County officials. The tornado, confirmed by the National Weather Service, touched down in the area of 47th Street W.

Police: Driver has no cash so robber takes his car

TAMPA -- As an 84-year-old man pulled his 2001 Toyota Camry into his carport about 11:30 p.m. Saturday, a thief came out of the shadows and demanded money, police said.

The elderly man, Thomas C. Despirito, had none. So the thief fished through Despirito's pockets, took his car keys and drove away.

Police said the man was not armed and did not injure Despirito, who lives in the 1200 block of E Comanche Avenue. Despirito's car is a gray four-door, with Florida tag HT1 89W.

Despirito told police the thief was a thin man in his 40s, about 6 feet 2 and wearing a blue shirt. Anyone with information is asked to call Tampa police at (813) 276-3200.

Armed man steals jewelry, slashes victim's abdomen

TAMPA -- An armed robber slashed a Tampa man across the abdomen Saturday night in a gas station parking lot.

Police said Ricardo Ceballa suffered only minor injuries in the attack.

Ceballa and his friend, Onel Gonzalaez of Miami, were approached outside the station at 22nd Street and Martin Luther King Boulevard by a man with a gun at about 7:15 p.m. Saturday.

Ceballa and Gonzalez told police the man stole their jewelry and used a knife to slash Ceballa across the abdomen.

The men offered a vague description of their attacker.

Police did not release the value of the stolen items.

Police officer shoots, kills dog he says attacked him

TAMPA -- A police officer shot and killed a dog Sunday morning that he said attacked him.

Just after 10:30 a.m., Tampa police officer Dan Hinsz responded to an alarm at a large warehouse at 4701 E Acline Drive. While investigating, he walked around the perimeter of the building and saw smoke coming from the woods on the east side of the building. As he got closer, he discovered a campsite for a homeless man.

As Hinsz approached, a large mixed-breed female dog jumped on his left side.

Hinsz said the dog was trying to bite him on the face and neck, so he pulled out his gun and shot it once, killing it.

Police said the dog belonged to the man living in the campsite, 55-year-old Joseph Munson. Hinsz was not injured in the incident.

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