BRANDON — The scene played out like a botched gangland hit outside a suburban Waffle House.
The gunman stepped out of the restaurant just before 1 a.m. Saturday, walked up to a sport utility vehicle and poured 15 bullets through the windshield at his female targets. One young woman ducked down and avoided the gunfire, while the other slipped out the door and ran off, suffering gunshot wounds to her arm and leg, but surviving.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office on Saturday arrested a suspect — Matthew Royce Laine, 22, a Riverview security guard who faces two charges of attempted murder. Detectives are still trying to figure out what prompted the shooting, though. The victims — Briana Reddick, 20, and Princess Benoit, 16 — said they do not know Laine.
"They just don't have any answers as to why someone would want to do this to them," said Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Cristal Bermudez Nunez. "As of right now, this seems to be completely random."
Laine, who was identified by a witness at the Waffle House as the gunman, denied the charges, according to the Sheriff's Office. His only prior arrest in Florida, state records show, was a February 2010 charge of battery on a firefighter that prosecutors dropped.
Laine had been eating at the Waffle House, the Sheriff's Office said, when four girls in an SUV pulled into the parking lot. Reddick, Benoit and two other girls had been hanging out at a friend's house Friday night and decided to order takeout. Two of the girls — their names were not released by the Sheriff's Office on Saturday — went in to pick up the food while Reddick, who had been driving, and Benoit waited in the vehicle.
No altercation preceded the shooting, the Sheriff's Office said. Laine simply walked right in front of the SUV and started firing. Reddick was hit in her right leg, just above the knee, and in her right arm, and spent much of Saturday in surgery at Tampa General Hospital. Benoit, who ducked, suffered cuts to her legs as the glass from the windshield sprayed onto her.
Laine left in a silver sedan with dark rims, the Sheriff's Office said. Detectives picked him up at his home a short while later, took him in for questioning, and ultimately arrested him about 4:30 a.m., jail records show.
Times researcher Natalie Watson contributed to this report.