Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Quick-thinking barista stops bank robbery suspect

LITHIA — A man ran past the drive-through window at DaSilva's Coffee Shop and all the employees froze — except one.

A barista chased the man into the parking lot and yelled, "Freeze! Police! Freeze, or I'll shoot!" said Karen Raga, a co-worker of the woman's.

Hillsborough sheriff's deputies say Jeffrey Gordon Merritt stopped in his tracks, allowing the barista and the manager of the Valrico State Bank he had just robbed to get him on the ground and hold him there until they arrived.

Merritt, 44, of 9411 Chalet Drive in Tampa, was charged with armed robbery. He is a suspect in the robberies of two Pinellas County banks in September.

Friday's incident happened about 9:10 a.m. at 15256 Fishhawk Blvd., after Merritt pointed a gun at a teller and demanded money, the Sheriff's Office said.

Raga said when she and her co-worker, a former German police officer, saw Merritt being followed by the bank manager, her friend sprang into action.

"It was just like the stuff you see on TV, bending the arm behind the back, pushing him up against the car and holding him by the neck," she said.

The barista and the bank manager sat on Merritt until deputies arrived and took him away.

The woman returned to a coffee shop full of applause for a job well done.

"We were so proud of her," Raga said.

The Sheriff's Office did not release the names of the people who helped catch Merritt because they are witnesses.

Quick-thinking barista stops bank robbery suspect 10/03/08 [Last modified: Monday, October 6, 2008 1:59pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Merkel spokesman: Germany still seeking stronger U.S. ties


    BERLIN — Berlin remains committed to strong trans-Atlantic relations, but Chancellor Angela Merkel's suggestion after meetings with President Donald Trump that Europe can no longer entirely rely on the U.S. "speaks for itself," her spokesman said Monday

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel delivers a speech during an election campaign of her Christian Democratic Union, CDU, and the Christian Social Union, CSU, in Munich, southern Germany, Sunday. Merkel is urging European Union nations to stick together in the face of new uncertainty over the United States and other challenges. [Matthias Balk/dpa via AP]
  2. Tampa police: 46 arrests, 47 ejections at two-day Sunset Music Festival

    Public Safety

    Times staff

    TAMPA — In a preliminary tally Monday morning, police declared there were "no major incidents" during the two-day Sunset Music Festival at Raymond James Stadium but boosted the number of arrests and rejections they provided in earlier reports during the weekend.

    A Tampa Fire Rescue all-terrain vehicle patrols the parking area north of Raymond James Stadum on Sunday, day two of the Sunset Music Festival. [LUIS SANTANA   |   Times]

  3. Trump to speak at Arlington cemetery on Memorial Day


    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is preparing his first Memorial Day address at Arlington National Cemetery.

    President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump wave as they board Air Force One at Naval Air Station Sigonella, Saturda, in Sigonella, Italy. [AP photo]
  4. Two in serious condition after early-morning shooting in Tampa


    Two people are in serious condition after a shooting occurred early Monday morning in Tampa, according to the Tampa Police Department.

  5. Wrong-way driver on Courtney Campbell Causeway intercepted by police, faces DUI charge

    Public Safety

    A woman driving in the wrong direction on the Courtney Campbell Causeway early Monday morning was intercepted by Tampa Police officers and faces a DUI charge.