A man posing as a prospective customer robbed the Ramada Inn on U.S. 19 at gunpoint Thursday night and got away with an undisclosed amount of cash, authorities said.
The Citrus County Sheriff's Office is searching for a black man with a thin build between the ages of 30 and 35.
He stands about 5 feet 10, has a mustache and was last seen wearing a white T-shirt, khaki pants and a dark blue or black baseball cap with an unknown logo in front.
The hotel clerk on duty told deputies the man entered the lobby about 9 p.m and inquired about room rates. After he was quoted a price, the man said he had to check with his wife and three children and left the building.
He returned less than a minute later, brandishing a small, black handgun.
He pointed the gun at the clerk and demanded she give him all the money in the cash register, authorities said.
The clerk gave him an unknown amount of cash, and the gunman ordered her to lie down behind the counter. He then left the hotel.
"She was not able to see how he left the building, whether it was in a vehicle or on foot," sheriff's spokeswoman Ronda Hemminger Evan said.
The clerk was alone in the lobby at the time of the holdup, a hotel employee said Friday. She was not injured.
Deputies, detectives and the air unit were called to the scene. They searched around the hotel and surrounding area but did not find the suspect.
The hotel's manager could not be reached for comment Friday.
The suspect's description is similar to that of a man who robbed a Holiday Inn in Hernando County on Tuesday.
In that robbery, a man described as thin and black entered the Holiday Inn at 30307 Cortez Blvd. near I-75 about 6:30 p.m. and asked for a room. Then he pulled out a small, black handgun and demanded "all your money, right now," according to a sheriff's report.
The gunman told the clerk to lie down on the floor and ran from the building with less than $300.