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Police credit Walmart clerk's tip with catching Bayshore egg tossers

An egg tossed from an SUV hit Robinson High cross-country runner Noah Grant in the eye.

SKIP O’ROURKE | Times

An egg tossed from an SUV hit Robinson High cross-country runner Noah Grant in the eye.

TAMPA — When a Walmart clerk heard Monday that a teen had been badly injured by an egging along Bayshore Boulevard, she thought of a sale the previous night.

A 16-year-old boy had bought several dozen eggs at the Gandy Boulevard store, not far from the egging. The clerk called police.

What followed was a speedy sequence of events, fueled by quick police work and an uncanny coincidence, to solve the case.

After getting the tip, two officers drove to the Walmart to watch surveillance video. They viewed the purchase, then watched a recording of the same teen climbing into a sport utility vehicle.

It was a white SUV, like witnesses had spotted about 10 p.m. Sunday on Bayshore Boulevard near Carolina Avenue. And it had a distinguishing mark: a Jesuit High School decal on the rear window.

As the officers drove back to their district office, they spotted a white SUV with a Jesuit sticker — a coincidence that surprised even police.

They pulled over the SUV and noticed the remains of splattered raw egg on its exterior.

Inside sat four teenage boys. One, police say, had nothing to do with the Sunday night egging that severely damaged 17-year-old Noah Grant's eye as he jogged with several Robinson High School cross-country teammates.

The other three young men admitted to it, said Tampa police Lt. Mary O'Connor.

"They said they had been doing this for a while," she said.

They seemed remorseful and said they didn't mean to hurt anyone, O'Connor said.

Grant said Monday that the egg felt like a rocketing soda can. Police estimate the SUV was traveling about 45 mph. If the egg was thrown the same direction as the vehicle's path, it could have been traveling at least 50 mph, O'Connor said.

It broke a bone near Grant's eye, bruised it and caused two cuts, a report from an emergency room doctor states.

Grant was expecting to see an ophthalmologist on Tuesday. The family declined to give an update, citing an attorney's advice.

Daniel Borgeson, 17, Patrick Wasp, 16, and Tyler Metzger, 16, all of South Tampa, each face a third-degree felony battery charge. They were taken to the Juvenile Assessment Center on Monday and later released.

Now, they're under home arrest, which means they can leave only for approved reasons, including work and school.

Metzger is a freshman at Robinson, where Grant also goes to school. School district officials don't plan their own discipline against Metzger because it doesn't appear Grant was targeted.

The other two young men — Borgeson and Wasp — just finished their sophomore years at Jesuit High School, an all-male private Catholic school, said principal Barry Neuberger.

Neuberger said Jesuit has a code of conduct that "lays out procedures for matters like this." He said it would be handled internally, but wouldn't elaborate.

"It's very upsetting, and my thoughts and prayers go out to (Grant) and his family," Neuberger said.

None of the teens had a criminal record in Florida before this. They are being charged as juveniles, though that could change.

Like the adult justice system, the juvenile system offers diversion programs for minors. When deciding whether a particular defendant qualifies, the court takes into account his or her arrest history and the type of charge.

Just because a defendant is being charged as a juvenile doesn't necessarily mean he or she will received a light sentence — or that the charges will be dropped — said Hillsborough County State Attorney's Office spokesman Mark Cox, speaking generally about the juvenile justice system.

"It's decided on a case-by-case basis," Cox said.

And though this incident is the only case with which the three boys have been charged, police think the teens have been throwing eggs out of the SUV's window for weeks.

It's a familiar sight to Bayshore joggers and bikers. Some recall similar, though less damaging, incidents dating back decades.

Kevin Napper of Tampa remembers getting hit in the chest by an egg while jogging one night about 15 years ago. It left a big welt.

"I didn't think of it as a prank," Napper said Tuesday. "I thought of it as really annoying and dangerous."

Times news researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at jvandervelde@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3433.

Police credit Walmart clerk's tip with catching Bayshore egg tossers 05/29/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 29, 2012 10:20pm]
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