Thursday, February 22, 2018
Public safety

Pasco deputies searching for masked gunmen in convenience store robberies

DADE CITY — Pasco deputies are searching for two and possibly three masked gunmen they're calling serial robbers after several robberies in east Pasco and two neighboring counties.

Authorities released security camera footage of a Friday holdup at the Kwik Pick Food Store/BP gas station at 18232 U.S. 301 in Dade City. The video shows two gunmen, dressed in black, entering the store, ordering customers to the floor and robbing the customers and the store clerk.

Another robbery happened Tuesday at the same store, though only one robber appeared. Video footage of that robbery shows clerks firing on the armed suspect. Kevin Doll, spokesman for the Pasco County Sheriff's Office, said it appears no one was injured, but the clerks had the right to defend themselves.

A Citgo station was robbed Aug. 2 on U.S. 98 in Trilby, though the holdup was not reported until Monday. Doll said deputies believe this robbery is connected to the two at Kwik Pick.

"We think they're all involved in the same robberies, and we're calling them serial," Doll said.

Doll said three similar robberies, one in Brooksville in mid June and two in Sumter County in late July, may have been committed by the same suspects.

Because the robbers were wearing masks and long-sleeved, dark clothing, Doll said deputies do not have full descriptions. He also said deputies cannot be sure whether two or three men were involved in the robberies. He said witnesses described two men as African-American, between 5 feet 9 and 6 feet and 160 to 170 pounds. He said a surveillance video of the robbery in which clerks fought back showed a white suspect. Deputies do not have a vehicle description.

Kwik Pick cashier Yazan Shnablih was not present during the robberies, but he told Bay News 9, the Times' coverage partner, he was shocked when he heard about the heists.

"The cashier started shooting on him," Shnablih said, relaying the story he heard about the second holdup. "As soon as he started shooting on him, the guy shot back one time. There is a hole right there in the wall. Then he started running out. The cashier kept shooting, two or three times. But he missed it all the times."

Shnablih said he did not believe the robbers would return.

"After the second time, they won't think about it anymore," he said.

Anyone with information about these robberies may call the Pasco Sheriff's Office Crime Tips Line toll-free at 1-800-706-2488.

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