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Reward offered in beating of pizza shop manager

By BRADY DENNIS

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 8, 2000


DADE CITY -- Pizza Hut is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of two suspects responsible for pistol-whipping and beating a 27-year-old Dade City restaurant manager on Friday.

"We're going to do anything we can to help the police in any way necessary," said Mike Keeler, the Orlando-based loss prevention manager for Tricon Global Restaurants Inc., the parent company of Pizza Hut. "If offering a reward will help do that, then that's what we're going to do."

Keeler said when he got word of the beating, he called the corporate offices in Dallas and got permission to offer the reward.

The injured manager was discovered around 6:45 a.m. Friday morning by Scott Hull, 27, of Clermont, a semitrailer truck driver for Pizza Hut.

Hull was making a delivery to the store, at 14910 N U.S. 98 Bypass, when he saw two males fleeing north toward the Pasco Beverage Co., said Dade City Police Chief Phillip Thompson.

Hull went inside and found the manager on the floor, severely beaten. He called 911 at 6:48 a.m.

The manager was flown by helicopter to St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa and treated for head injuries, Thompson said. He was released over the weekend.

The incident originally was classified as a robbery, but Thompson said police now feel it was a botched burglary.

He said police think the suspects already had broken into the store when the manager arrived.

Thompson said he was glad Pizza Hut offered the reward but disappointed that police still have no strong leads.

"I think the reward is helpful. Every little bit helps," he said. "But we still have to put a solid case together whether there's an award or not."

Anyone with information about the incident was asked to call Dade City Detective Tim Harrelson at (354) 521-1495 or (352) 521-5604.

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