Lisa Trimarco is not the type of person one might expect to fight it out with a robber.
The 5-foot-2, 45-year-old desk clerk at the Econo Lodge on East Busch Boulevard is as "sweet as honey, the type of person who never gets mad," said her co-worker, Jeff McDonald.
But there Trimarco was on Saturday, all alone at about 2:50 p.m. staring at a man who said he had a gun and would kill her unless she gave him the motel's money.
"My first reaction was to get the heck out of there," Trimarco said several hours later.
When she tried to scurry around the counter, he stopped her, and the two locked into what Trimarco called "an awkward dance."
"He was grabbing my wrists, I was grabbing his," Trimarco said. "We struggled for what seemed like forever, but I'm sure was only a minute."
As the man grew more nervous, he pleaded with Trimarco to cooperate.
"He said: "Why do you want to do it like this? Now I have to kill you,' " Trimarco said.
Trimarco, who weighs about 190 pounds, wouldn't stop pushing into the man, who police said weighs about 180 pounds.
"I was throwing myself into him," Trimarco said. "He was using everything he had, and so was I."
When Trimarco lunged past the man, he pushed her out the door and fled. Trimarco said she didn't have any serious injuries, but said she may have wrenched her back.
Ten minutes after the attempted robbery, a 40-year-old Largo man, identified by police as Brian Badgett, drove to La Quinta Hotel on East Fowler Avenue and held up a clerk with what he said was a gun, according to a Tampa police report. After that clerk gave the robber the money, he sped away in a black Eclipse.
At 3:11 p.m., police saw the man and arrested him in front of the Econo Lodge.
"There were people cheering in the motel parking lot. It was crazy," Trimarco said. "And then I got to go over there and identify him. I was pretty happy they caught him."
Badgett, who police say didn't have a gun, was charged with aggravated fleeing to elude and two counts of robbery. He was held Saturday night in Hillsborough County's Orient Road Jail in lieu of $17,000 bail.
As Trimarco was getting ready to go home, she was amazed at her day. She recently left her Verizon sales job to escape the stress. So she took a desk job at the Econo Lodge because she thought it would be laid-back.
"This was certainly a different kind of stress," she said. "It wasn't a whole lot of fun."
She said she will lock the door from now on and do business through a window.
"People call me a puppy because I'm so nice," Trimarco said. "I guess I surprised everyone, including myself."
_ Michael Van Sickler can be reached at (813) 269-5312 or mvansicklersptimes.com.