GULFPORT POLICE DEPARTMENT
MEDIA NEWS RELEASE
                                                                 
Lt. Robert Vincent
Public Information Officer
727-893-1030

11/09/2007

High School Student Robbed—Suspects At Large

Officer Zach Mills interrupted an armed robbery while patrolling near the Gulfport Spur of the Pinellas Trail this morning.  At approximately 9:18 AM, two young men ran from the marked police car, and Officer Mills requested other officers to help locate them.  Unbeknownst to the officers, the two were running because they were in the process of robbing a Boca Ciega High School student who was not in school for some reason.

While looking for the fleeing suspects, officers found the robbery victim in his underclothes on the Pinellas Trail.  He reported that the two young men had just robbed him at gunpoint, taking his money, cell phone, and clothes.  One of the suspects had pointed a gun at the victim, and at some point during the robbery, he struck the victim in the head with the gun.  The victim said that the robbers stopped what they were doing and fled when they saw the police car drive nearby.

The victim (who was not injured) was provided with clothing and taken back to the school’s office.  The school was placed on lockdown while officers searched for the suspects.  Moments after the initial incident, a resident in the 5300 block of 9th Avenue South reported that two young men were running through the neighborhood, and one of them pointed a gun at her.  She was able to avoid any confrontation, but the description of these two made it very likely the same ones who had just committed the robbery.

Shortly after this second incident, officers caught site of a person in the 5300 block of 11th Avenue South.  This person matched the description of the robber with the gun, and he also fled again in the residential neighborhood.  A perimeter was set up to cover several square blocks, and officers searched within the perimeter for over an hour, along with assistance from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office patrol helicopter.  While the search was being conducted, two other local schools (Hamilton Disston and Gulfport Elementary) were notified, and they made the decision to lock down their facilities as well.

Despite the extensive search efforts, no suspects were located.  Lt. Howard Coombs, the patrol operations commander, was on scene throughout the incident, and he believes the suspects were able to escape the perimeter area as it was being set up.  When he was confident that they were no longer in the area, he contacted the Pinellas County Schools Police, and they decided to re-open the schools.

The primary suspect (the one with the gun) is a black male, late teens, approximately 5’8”, thin build, wearing a black sweatshirt with a hood pulled over his face and blue, denim shorts-possibly with a red, green, and yellow stripe on them.  The gun was a black, semi-automatic handgun.

The other suspect was also a young, black male, and he was described as being taller and thinner than the one with the gun, but the victims could not provide any other information.

At this point, police do not have a composite drawing of either suspect, but as soon as one becomes available, it will be released to the media.