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Arrest made in Dade City ATM robberies

DADE CITY — After robbing and beating a man at gunpoint in downtown Dade City early Tuesday, they moved on to their next victim — a 20-year-old Chili's server who was depositing his nightly tips at an ATM on quiet Church Street. There, the three thieves stole the man's wallet, cell phone and $800 from his account. One pistol-whipped him before they fled the scene and stole his car.

Two of the robbers were seen clearly in video footage from the Bank of America. One wore a purple shirt and matching purple bandanna over his face, a hat pushed down on his head. He was covered so well, it's hard to see his eyes.

The other was brazen, his face shown clearly in several photos pumped out to the media Tuesday night by the Dade City Police Department. He wore an unusual T-shirt — black with bright geographic shapes. In one photo, he is holding a gun to the victim.

This bold move was his undoing, according to authorities.

"We had tons of response from the community as to who he was," said Ray Velboom, chief of the Dade City Police Department.

Velboom said the man is Christopher Demon Arnold, a 25-year-old who was arrested at his mother's house on Douglas Drive in Dade City late Wednesday afternoon. He is charged with two counts of armed robbery and is being held at the Land O'Lakes jail.

The other two robbers remain at large.

"We are anticipating additional arrests," Velboom said.

The first victim — the man walking downtown — was beaten so severely he was taken to Shands Hospital in Gainesville because of head trauma, Velboom said. The man's identity has not been released. Velboom said he is in stable condition.

Arnold was in the news in 2006 after being shot at a Dade City house with a history of drug-related crime. He had wounds to his chin, shoulder and abdomen, according to stories in the Times. According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Arnold has no listed occupation and his address is 15136 Davis Loop in Dade City. That is near where the ATM victim's stolen car was recovered, according to police reports.

Arnold was convicted of violating a domestic violence injunction in 2008.

Times researcher Shirl Kennedy contributed to this story. Erin Sullivan can be reached at esullivan@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6229.

Arrest made in Dade City ATM robberies 08/05/09 [Last modified: Thursday, August 6, 2009 11:00am]
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