CLEARWATER — A man suspected of robbing two dollar stores at knifepoint earlier this week — in one case brandishing a large machete and in another cutting a store clerk — was arrested Wednesday after he crashed during an attempted traffic stop by Clearwater police.
The man, whose name was not immediately released, is also suspected in the robberies of a Lowe's and a CVS, both on Ulmerton Road in Largo, on Wednesday. The robber brandished a knife at both stores.
Shortly before 4 p.m. Wednesday, Clearwater police recognized the driver of a Dodge pickup as the suspect and began following him in unmarked cars. When they tried to stop the truck near Highland Avenue, the man sped away, crashed and flipped the truck near the intersection of Palmetto Street and Macrae Avenue west of Clearwater Fundamental Middle School.
The driver was taken to a hospital for treatment of injuries that were not considered life threatening. A woman, whom police also did not identify, was in the truck at the time of the crash, but was not hurt.
The first robbery was reported about noon Sunday at a Dollar General at 1600 N Myrtle Ave. in Clearwater. A man picked up a pack of razor blades and went to the counter. When the clerk opened the cash register, the man drew a machete from his pants and "held it in a threatening overhand grip," police said. The robber took the cash and left.
On Tuesday, another robbery was reported about noon at a Family Dollar at 1279 S Missouri Ave. The same man approached the clerk with a bag of chips, police said. When the clerk opened the register, he pulled a knife from his pants pocket and lunged forward, cutting the clerk's hand. He grabbed the cash and ran, police said.