Suspect arrested in robbery, assault of St. Petersburg teachers

ST. PETERSBURG — Police have arrested a man caught rifling through teachers' purses, then assaulting two teachers at New Heights Elementary School on Friday.

Willie John Howard, 42, of 4546 15th Ave. S is charged with two counts of burglary and is being held on $100,000 bail at the Pinellas County Jail.

Police say Howard shoved a female teacher, punched a male teacher in the jaw and then fled the school on a bike with an undisclosed amount of cash.

A suspect matching the description of the school robber was first seen at Florida Bank at 3065 34th St. N around noon, according to police. He walked into the bank, looked at his cell phone, acted "suspicious," according to witnesses, then pedaled away on a green girl's bicycle.

Then, at 12:47 p.m., police say Howard was discovered about 10 blocks away inside New Heights Elementary School at 3901 37th St. N. Two teachers found the suspect inside a room, police say, going through teachers' purses.

They confronted the robber, police say, who then assaulted the teachers and fled the campus on a bike similar to the one seen earlier at the bank. No students were hurt, according to police.

Suspect arrested in robbery, assault of St. Petersburg teachers 06/04/09 [Last modified: Thursday, June 4, 2009 3:04pm]

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