Suspect in sex batteries, home invasions near USF in Tampa shot to death

September 6, 2013 

Charlie Bates, 24, a suspect (red car) wanted in a series of sexual batteries and home invasions near the University of South Florida Tampa campus, has been shot to death by law enforcement. BAY NEWS 9

TAMPA -- The suspect in a series of sexual attacks and home invasions near the University of South Florida's Tampa campus has died following a shootout with deputies.

Charlie Bates, 24, died shortly after 1 p.m., a short while after he exchanged gunfire with deputies on U.S. 301, just north of I-4. Officials said he was shot multiple times.

Deputies were searching for Bates in connection with a crime spree that started late Thursday night, causing schools to go on modified lockdown and USF officials to issue an alert.

The search for him continued until shortly after noon Friday, when Sheriff David Gee said the department received information that Bates was an an apartment where he was possibly holding another woman hostage.

When deputies arrived at the apartment, they saw Bates leave the apartment and drive away, Gee said. At some point, Bates realized deputies were following him, so he began firing gunshots at them.

"He was firing through his rear windshield and out his driver's door," Gee said.

The gunfire continued even as Bates lost control of the vehicle and spun across the road.

No law enforcement officers were injured in the shooting, as they had ballistic shields to protect them from the bullets, Gee said.

"No doubt in my mind he would've killed someone else before the day was over," said Gee.

The suspect was going anywhere from 80-100 mph during the chase, officials say. Gee said he's not sure how many shots were fired during the shootout but guessed it could easily exceed 100.

Earlier, Gee said they were looking for a woman who may be a possible victim because of a cell phone they had recovered, explaining that Bates made a reference during the crime spree that indicated he may have killed someone.

But Gee said they later located the phone's owner and she is safe and sound and was not a victim.

Events leading up to chase, shootout

The string of events started at 11 p.m. in an apartment in the Cambridge Wood Apartments on Monterey Pines Drive. Investigators said Bates tied up four men in the apartment with duct tape, then sexually battered four women.

Bates then left the apartment and went into a second home in the Eagle Point Apartments, located on N. 46th Street in Tampa, deputies said. Bates, who had a gun, forced the woman who was sitting on her porch inside the house, then he ordered her to take off her clothes and forced her to kiss him.

Deputies said the woman began to recite Bible verses and prayed for Bates, and that Bates' demeanor changed. He apologized and gave her a shirt to put on, then they prayed together. He fled the apartment after she tore out pages from the Bible and gave them to him. The woman then called 911.

Bates then made his way to the Oaks Condominiums on Winding Moss Trail, which is directly across 42nd Street from the original incident at the Cambridge Woods Apartment.

Deputies said Bates went into a home, where about 25 people were having a party, then forced them all into a bedroom and fired at least one round into the carpet before leaving.

Then Bates encountered a man as he was leaving the house and began chasing the man. The man ran into his apartment and closed the door, but not before Bates fired at least three gunshots at him. The man was not injured.

Deputies and Tampa police officers began searching the area, stopping vehicles and speaking to pedestrians. They also knocked on doors in several apartment complexes in the area. Several schools were placed on modified lockdown, which was lifted after Bates was taken into custody.

Bates suspected in two other violent crimes

Authorities said Bates is a suspect in at least two other crimes.

On Wednesday, Bates allegedly broke into a house through an unlocked back door and woke the sleeping couple at gunpoint. Bates is accused of pistol-whipping the man, then sexually battering the woman before fleeing the scene.

Police said Bates threatened to kill them if they called the police, which is why the couple did not report the crime until Friday.

He is also suspected in a home invasion on Aug. 9. Police said he broke into a home near Busch Boulevard and Rome Avenue, then demanded money and the woman's phone and jewelry at gunpoint. Bates reportedly threatened to sexually batter and kill the woman.

Police said the woman began praying, and Bates fled from the scene.

While breaking into the home, Bates evidently cut himself and left blood at the scene. Police said the DNA left behind allowed investigators to identify him on Aug. 30. A warrant was issued for his arrest on one count of armed home invasion/robbery.

In March, Bates was previously arrested in Lakeland on charges of concealed weapons, marijuana possession and drug paraphernalia.

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