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Search of Hillsborough complex fails to turn up robbery suspect

TAMPA — Police identified one of the men suspected of robbing a Metro PCS store last week as they searched for him inside a townhome complex Thursday evening.

The hunt for James Baird, 18, of 8415 N Dixon Ave., began when Tampa police's Tactical Response Team arrived at 12769 Palmer Circle just before 4 p.m. Thursday. Officers had been searching for him in the area, and someone matching his description ran inside the complex.

Officers waited for search warrants before firing tear gas into the attic and entering. But after searching every unit, officers did not find Baird, said Andrea Davis, a police spokeswoman.

"The entire complex was evacuated before this started," Davis said. "They had to search every unit because the way the attics were set up, they all shared attic space. So it was possible that he could have crawled into another unit."

The operation closed N 22nd Street from 131st Avenue to the University Square Mall for more than four hours.

Davis said Baird was identified through an investigation of a Metro PCS store robbery. He is believed to have entered the store and leapt over the counter.

Police issued a warrant for Baird in the robbery and said he is a suspected in four other Metro PCS store robberies in Hillsborough County dating to March. There is a $1,000 Crime Stoppers reward for information leading to his arrest, Davis said.

"He is considered armed. He is violent," Davis explained. "Someone in that neighborhood where he is known to frequent knows who he is and where he is. And I hope they do the right thing and get the reward money."

Search of Hillsborough complex fails to turn up robbery suspect 06/03/10 [Last modified: Thursday, June 3, 2010 11:36pm]
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