Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Police search for Ohio van after beating, carjacking, attempted robbery in Trinity

TRINITY — The man had a gun and wanted money. The 71-year-old woman was in her car, a dusky blue Chrysler 300 with a cross dangling from the rearview mirror, in the parking lot of Ross Dress for Less, just seven spaces from the front entrance, a few minutes after noon on a typical, busy Tuesday.

She said no.

So the man beat her in the head with the gun, cutting so deep her skull shone through, witnesses said.

A couple saw the commotion and tried to help the woman, according to authorities and people at the plaza at the southeast corner of Little Road and State Road 54. The man pointed the gun at the husband and demanded that the wife hand over the keys to their van. She did and the man sped off on the rain-slicked pavement.

Authorities say this same man picked up an accomplice — a woman or a man, it is not known at this time — and, about half an hour later, both tried to rob the Medicine Shoppe, a pharmacy in the shopping center at Duck Slough Boulevard and State Road 54, a few miles away from the first crime.

Here, the two people entered the store brandishing guns, asking for money and drugs. A staffer ran out the back door to call for help, witnesses said, and someone hit the panic button.

The pair had a gun pointed to the head of the pharmacist, Ben Benoit.

"I thought, 'They are going to blow me away' " no matter what I do, said Benoit.

So he fought, something his wife — who also works in the pharmacy and was inside during this ordeal — and friends later admonished him for doing. Afterward, they all stood by the crime scene tape around their store, shaking from the damp wind and nerves.

Benoit wrestled the gun — either a rifle or shotgun — away from one of the robbers, who fled the store, authorities said.

In the struggle, the gun went off but did not injure anyone. Benoit, who still wore his white lab coat as a forensics team scanned his shop, had a scratches on his face and neck.

The suspects are considered armed and dangerous and might still be using the stolen vehicle — a blue Dodge Caravan with an Ohio license plate BW54WS. The Pasco County Sheriff's Office is asking anyone with information about this pair to call authorities. There is no good description of the duo at this time.

The woman who was beaten at the Ross parking lot was taken to a hospital. Her condition was not available Tuesday evening. Witnesses said she was helped from her car to a bench outside the store to wait for an ambulance.

"It was bad," said Robert Rodriguez, a security guard at Ross. "There was blood everywhere."

Marie Inglese, 70, and her 81-year-old sister drove to Ross from Hudson and saw the scene.

"It's not safe to go anywhere, anymore," Inglese said. Her sister didn't want to give her name because she's scared, she said, tightly clutching her pink umbrella with both hands.

"I'm afraid," she said.

Erin Sullivan can be reached at esullivan@sptimes.com.

Police search for Ohio van after beating, carjacking, attempted robbery in Trinity 04/14/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 14, 2009 10:20pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Dad's app freezes your kids phone until they answer your texts

    Human Interest

    Parents of teens know how vital cell phones can be when they need to reach their kids — especially during an emergency.

    Nick Herbert, who lives in the United Kingdom, grew tired of his teenage son ignoring his texts, so he made an app to fix the problem. ReplyASAP takes over the phone's screen, overrides any silent functions and sets off an alarm, essentially forcing teens to respond to their parents in order to regain access to their phones. [Screengrab from website]
  2. Related Group breaks ground on complex at old Tampa Tribune site

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — Miami-based Related Group has broken ground on a 400-unit apartment complex planned on the site of the former Tampa Tribune building in downtown Tampa.

    From left, Related Group executive associate Arturo Penaa, Jorge Perez, center, founder and CEO of the Related Group, Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Steve Patterson, the President of Related Development dig their shovels  during the groundbreaking ceremony of the 400 unit Riverwalk Manor apartment complex on site of the old Tampa Tribune building on Wednesday. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times]
  3. Robert Pattinson is better than 'Twilight.' 'Good Time' proves it

    Movies

    INDIE FLICKS:

    GOOD TIME

    Don't judge actors by the books they cover on screen. It appears truer with each performance that two of our finest got their starts with the Twilight franchise.

    Robert Pattinson hooks viewers in Good Time, an inventive crime story.
  4. Deputies: Man feared other man was going to "steal his girlfriend" before armed assault

    Crime

    CLEARWATER

    Man dials 911 from strip club, then pretends to pass out, deputies say

  5. Largo police investigating U.S. 19 crash that killed woman, 34

    Accidents

    LARGO — Traffic homicide investigators are looking into a crash Wednesday morning that killed a woman and closed the southbound lanes of U.S. 19 for a few hours.