Surveillance video: Cigarette bandits
A early-morning robbery at a Palmetto convenience store resulted in four suspects arrested on robbery charges after a vehicle pursuit that ended in Hillsborough County.
At approximately 2:40 a.m. Friday, seven male suspects wearing hoodies covering their faces entered the 7-Eleven at 4920 Moccasin Wallow Road and rushed the counter, according to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.
One suspect used a tire iron to force the store clerk to the floor while the other suspects removed several cartons of cigarettes. The suspects fled in a white Toyota four-door car and an unknown silver SUV.
Approximately $3,000 in assorted cigarettes was taken from the business, the sheriff’s office said.
Prior to the 7-Eleven robbery, deputies received information from the Largo Police Department that it was investigating involving individuals stealing cigarette cartons. Units were notified and patrolled local convenience stores.
After the 7-Eleven robbery, Bradenton Police Department officers observed the suspect vehicles pull into a Wawa on First Street. BPD initiated a vehicle pursuit on the SUV eastbound on State Road 64. MCSO units paralleled the pursuit until it reached the Jeff Young Bridge on Interstate 75.
MCSO’s vehicle pursuit was authorized heading northbound on I-75. While northbound on I-75, the suspects in the vehicle continued to throw black plastic bags out of the windows that contained cigarette cartons.
The vehicle struck stop sticks twice while on I-75; at the on ramp at the Ellenton exit, and before the on ramp to Interstate 275. The pursuit continued north into Hillsborough County to exit 240 (Sun City Center) and turned westbound on East College Avenue.
The pursuit then turned northbound onto U.S. 41. Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office had stop sticks at Apollo Beach Boulevard and U.S. 41. The vehicle attempted to evade the stop sticks, spun out of control, and came to a stop in the middle of U.S. 41.
Four suspects exited the vehicle in an attempt to flee on foot but were immediately apprehended by MCSO and HCSO units. Arrested were Brashon D. Hall, 19; Frankie C. Cuevas, 17; Eric D. Padilla, 18; and Traequan J. Moore, 18.
The pursuit lasted approximately 26 minutes, speeds reached 70 mph, weather was clear, and traffic was minimal to none. There were no vehicle crashes during the pursuit, according to MCSO.
Hillsborough County advised that it had a robbery earlier with the same suspects, their detectives were notified and responded. The suspects were transported to the Hillsborough County Jail.
Similar robberies have occurred in Manatee County over the past several months. Detectives believe the suspects taken into custody Friday are possibly connected to some of those cases, in addition to others in the Tampa Bay area.