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Armed robbery suspect surrenders after seven-hour standoff with SWAT team

NEW PORT RICHEY — Alexander Curry told his mother he wasn't going back to prison.

Police said she told them he would shoot any officer who tried to arrest him.

So when officers tracked the 24-year-old suspect in the armed robbery of Catches Waterfront Grille to a motel Thursday morning, they called for the SWAT team.

For six hours, Curry refused to come out of his room. Then, just before 9 a.m., he surrendered. No one was injured.

"We used an overabundance of caution," said New Port Richey police Chief James Steffens, who is also in charge of the Pasco County Unified SWAT Team. "We had an armed felon who clearly made it known he was not going to return to prison."

The standoff began about 2 a.m. when a deputy saw Curry's pickup truck in the parking lot of the Royal Palm Inn at 6523 U.S. 19. Curry was in room 209 with two other men, a woman and an 18-month-old baby. They were evacuated safely, as well as people in nearby rooms.

Investigators reached Curry by phone.

"He said he is prepared for us, he watches TV and he was going to go get into the bathroom, turn on the water and, if we came to the door, he was going to start shooting," Steffens said.

Curry, who was released from prison in August after serving a year and a half for burglary, grand theft and trafficking stolen goods, refused to speak more with negotiators. He threw his cell phone out of the room. He ripped out the motel's phone and tossed it out, too, Steffens said.

Curry was wanted in connection with a violent robbery that happened just after 2 a.m. April 1 at Catches Waterfront Grille. Authorities say Curry, a former Catches employee, and Shane L. Coursen, 29, waited until the customers left and broke into the restaurant while employees were cleaning up and shutting down for the night. Coursen and Curry wore masks, carried guns and forced all of the employees into the freezer, authorities said. They cleaned out the till and fled. Coursen and Alicia M. Briguglio, 27, whom police say was an accomplice to the robbery, were found shortly afterward hiding in the Pithlachascotee River. Curry escaped, police said, and officers had been searching for him since.

Just before he was arrested Thursday, Curry peeked outside the motel window, saw all of the officers, deputies and the SWAT team's armored vehicle. He gave up moments later, emerging from the motel wearing a Catches T-shirt.

"He realized it was a challenge he wasn't up for," Steffens said.

Curry, whose last known address was in Tampa, is charged with robbery with a deadly weapon and is being held at the Pasco jail in lieu of $50,000 bail.

Erin Sullivan can be reached at esullivan@tampabay.com or (727) 869-6229.

Armed robbery suspect surrenders after seven-hour standoff with SWAT team 04/05/12 [Last modified: Thursday, April 5, 2012 8:03pm]
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