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. Storm routs Cleveland


    TAMPA — Alvin Ray Jackson intercepted two passes, returning one for a touchdown, and recovered two fumbles as the Storm routed Cleveland 57-27 Saturday night in its home regular-season finale at Amalie Arena.

  2. Miscue sends Rays to another stinging loss to Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays gave away DJ Kitty onesies Saturday night. Then they gave away the game.

    Rays centerfielder Mallex Smith misses a drive hit by Adrian Beltre with two outs in the sixth, allowing the tying runs to score. Beltre puts Texas ahead 4-3 when he scores after two wild pitches.
  3. Rowdies shut out Charleston


    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rowdies know a thing or two about stalemates, with five of their past 10 games ending in a draw.

    Rowdies in the first half during the game between Tampa Bay Rowdies and the Charleston Battery at Al Lang Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Saturday, Jul 22, 2017.
  4. 13-year-old Janessa's father holds memorial service at Rogers Middle School


    RIVERVIEW — About 100 people sat in the tile-floored multipurpose room Saturday at Rodgers Middle School where Janessa Shannon once sat as a student.

    A mourner embraces Nahshon Shannon after the memorial service for Nahshon’s daughter, Janessa, Saturday at Rodgers Middle School in Riverview.
  5. Trump: Aircraft carrier a symbol of America's might (w/video)


    NORFOLK, Va. — With praise and a blessing for the military, President Donald Trump helped hand over the USS Gerald R. Ford to the Navy on Saturday and said the state-of-the-art aircraft carrier will send a "100,000-ton message to the world" about America's military might when it is ultimately deployed.

    President Donald Trump commissions the USS Gerald R. Ford on Saturday in Norfolk, Va.