Police arrest St. Petersburg man in string of armed robberies at area businesses

ST. PETERSBURG — Police arrested a 26-year-old man in a string of crimes after they said they watched him commit an armed robbery at a Dunkin' Donuts.

Tracy Garrett, 26, of St. Petersburg, faces three counts of armed robbery after police said he admitted his involvement in robbing a Family Dollar store, a Wendy's fast-food restaurant and the Dunkin' Donuts.

Police named Garrett as a suspect in 12 armed robberies that targeted Tampa Bay area businesses in the past several weeks. But they didn't arrest him until Monday morning, when detectives said Garrett robbed the Dunkin' Donuts at 7030 Ulmerton Road with a gun.

Garrett, who wore a dark bandanna over his face and a baseball cap on his head, entered the shop from an unlocked side door, police said.

He told Joseph Melendez, who works at the Dunkin' Donuts, to get on the floor and implied he had a gun in his waistband, police said.

Garrett then approached Michelle Fann, who was mopping the floor at the front of the store, and demanded access to the safe, police said. When he told her to get on the ground, police said she ran out of the store.

Garrett drove away from the scene empty-handed and was pulled over and arrested by police who had followed him after he left the store.

The other robberies Garrett is charged with took place in July. Police said he robbed the Family Dollar store at 3401 34th Ave. N on the evening of July 8 and the Wendy's at 336 15th Ave. S on the night of July 30.

The pattern of robbery is similar in these cases, police said.

At the Wendy's, Garrett implied he had a handgun, ordered everyone on the floor and demanded that manager Sandra Dean lead him to the safe, police said. He stole about $300 from the restaurant after Dean opened the safe, officers said, adding that Garrett battered Dean during the robbery.

At the Family Dollar store, Garrett stole $195 after implying he had a gun and telling employee Christopher Belderson to open the register. When Belderson and employee Kimberly Scavelli did not move "fast enough," police said Garrett hit them several times.

Police arrest St. Petersburg man in string of armed robberies at area businesses 08/16/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 16, 2011 5:37pm]

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