HOLIDAY — First he asked for a beer.
No, the clerk told him. Too late for that.
So the customer picked out a Mountain Dew and took it to the register. He felt his front pockets. Then he leapt over the counter and ripped out the cash drawer. He smashed it on the ground. Twice. He gathered the cash and fled.
That was how the 7-Eleven at 1324 U.S. 19 became a crime scene early Saturday morning. Deputies arrived. They interviewed the shaken clerk and a witness. They issued a be-on-the-lookout alert over the radios.
Then, amid all this, a man with his head down walked up to investigators.
Who are you? a deputy asked.
"I did it," said the man.
In his left front pocket was $16.25 — all of it, he said, from the store's register.
Deputies later identified the man as James Rivera, 31, of St. Petersburg, street address unknown. State law enforcement reports show seven other arrests — from illegal hydrocodone possession to probation violations — dating to 2005. In September 2009, he was convicted of a strong-arm robbery in Pinellas County and received a one-year sentence.
On Saturday, he was charged with unarmed robbery in the Holiday 7-Eleven incident. He is being held in the Land O'Lakes jail on $50,000 bail.
So what did he tell the deputy when he returned to the scene?
"He said he did it because he was high on cocaine," Deputy David Meyer wrote. "He told me he returned because he knew the store called 911 and he wanted to do the right thing and turn himself in."
Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Jodie Tillman can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 869-6247.