TAMPA — A man out of prison a month stole a Honda from an elementary principal as she gassed it up before school Monday, threatening to kill her if she told anyone, police said.
He was captured hours later as police closed in with dogs and a helicopter.
Marjorie Sandler, principal of Gorrie Elementary, just down the street from where the crime occurred, was not injured and went to work as usual.
"She was fine," said Linda Cobbe, a Hillsborough County schools spokeswoman.
Sandler, 46, had just finished filling up her Accord about 7:30 a.m. at the Metro Gas station at Kennedy Boulevard and S Boulevard when a man approached.
Tampa police say David E. Cantero, 37, told her he was going to take her car and kill her if she said anything. Fearing for her life, Sandler stepped away.
Cantero took off with her car, attempting to use her credit card throughout the morning, leaving an electronic trail of evidence, according to the police.
Detectives staked out two residences. An undercover detective spotted him near Cleveland Street and S Boulevard, and called for marked units, police dogs and helicopter support to help capture him.
Officers forced the Honda to a stop near an apartment complex at W Horatio Street and Lincoln Avenue around noon. Cantero took off on foot but was caught a short time later.
Cantero of 2942 W Columbus Blvd., No. 210, was charged with carjacking, robbery and fleeing to elude, according to Tampa police. Officials said additional charges are pending.
He is also suspected in the Sunday night robbery of the Tangerine House of Kabob, police said.
According to officials, Cantero walked into the restaurant at 117 W Kennedy Blvd. and asked for change for a $5 and to see a menu. Cantero kept his left hand in his pocket, and when the register opened asked for all the money.
Although he did not show a weapon, the employee feared he had one. She handed him cash and he walked out the door.
Cantero has been arrested before. Previous charges include burglary, grand theft and dealing in stolen property, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Cantero was released from prison April 8 after serving less than a year for a charge of grand theft auto, records show.
Sandler has worked for the Hillsborough school district since 1985. She became principal at Gorrie in 2008.
Jared Leone can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 226-3435.