Sheriff's office: Ellenton home invasion wasn't random attack

MANATEE — Sheriff's investigators do not think a home invasion robbery late Tuesday in Ellenton was a random attack, a sheriff's spokesman said today.

Masked men fled from deputies after a home invasion robbery in the 5900 block of Willows Bridge Loop that was reported to authorities by a 14-year-old girl hiding in a bathroom, according to the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.

Sheriff’s spokesman Dave Bristow said detectives do not believe the home invasion was a random act. He said the Dodge Neon the suspects crashed into a home nearby has been seized and is being processed for evidence.

“We think there is evidence in the car, and we are confident we are going to find who did this,” Bristow said.

The girl called 911 just before midnight Tuesday and reported that someone was in her house in the Covered Bridge Estates subdivision. At some point after the call, but before the first deputies arrived, one of the intruders broke down the locked bathroom door, found the girl hiding in the shower, and asked her where the money was and who she had called. She told them she had been talking with her mother, according to a news release.

The girl was not injured.

The first arriving deputy saw two or three men leaving from the rear of the house. The deputy cut through the houses and saw the men get into a maroon-colored Dodge Neon.

The deputy ran towards the vehicle and ordered the men to show their hands. The driver started the vehicle and fled in reverse at a high rate of speed for about 75 feet, when he lost control and drove between before striking a utility meter and one of the houses and coming to rest on top of one of the residences' air-conditioning condenser, the sheriff's office said.

The deputy reported seeing at least two people flee the vehicle on foot, but officials, including a police dog, were unable to locate the suspects.

In the car, deputies found a Mac-11 machine pistol, according to the report.

Deputies said the intruders apparently had ransacked the house after prying open a rear door to get inside.

One of the suspects was described as standing 5 feet, 8 inches tall, weighing 140 pounds and wearing a ski mask, camouflage clothes and a "ballistic vest." He was armed with what was described as a "AK-47."

Another suspect was described as standing 5 feet, 10 inches tall, weighing 195 pounds and wearing dark clothing. He was carrying an unknown handgun, the sheriff's office said.