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Restaurant robbers force six into cooler

Three men wearing ski masks robbed the China Beach Restaurant Friday night and forced four adults and two children into the restaurant's cooler before fleeing in a Penske rental truck.

No one was seriously hurt.

Four men stopped the rental truck in front of the restaurant, 6170 Ulmerton Road, about 8:30 p.m., deputies said. Three went inside wearing ski masks and gloves. One carried a handgun; another picked up a knife once inside, Pinellas sheriff's deputies said.

The men threatened the four adults and two children, none of whom were patrons. They demanded money from the safe, ransacked the restaurant and struck at least two of the adults, deputies said.

After taking the victims' wallets and valuables, the men forced the six into the cooler, deputies said.

A delivery driver freed the victims and called 911.

Deputies say it appears the robbers returned the truck to a Penske rental return location near the restaurant.

No arrests had been made late Friday.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff's Office toll-free at 1-800-873-8477.

Police identify slain woman, arrest suspect

PINELLAS PARK _ Police have identified a woman found dead in her mobile home on Thursday as Mary Ann Baker of Pinellas Park.

Baker, 40, was stabbed in her home at Gator Lake Mobile Home Park, police said Friday.

Her body was discovered after police got a tip about an argument inside the mobile home. Shortly after, detectives began searching for William M. McMullin, 43, who had a "domestic relationship" with Baker, said Capt. S. A. Forseth of the Pinellas Park Police Department.

Police found him and Baker's car at the Driftwood Motel in St. Petersburg.

McMullin was taken to St. Anthony's Hospital for treatment of a drug overdose, police said. He remained there Friday afternoon.

Sex offender accused of exposing self to girl

ST. PETERSBURG _ A 25-year-old man was arrested Friday after police said he exposed himself to a 13-year-old girl walking to school.

Harland Justin Love was booked into the Pinellas County Jail and faces charges of lewd and lascivious exhibition and failure to register as a sex offender, St. Petersburg police said.

A parent called police after seeing Love on the 1600 block of 75th Street N. Love pulled up beside the girl and tried to lure her into his car about 9 a.m., police said. The girl refused and kept walking.

Love returned a short while later and told the girl to look into his car, then exposed himself, police said.

The girl and other witnesses later identified Love.

He is a registered sex offender in Massachusetts and failed to register in Florida, police said.

Deputy runs stop sign; crash injures two

TAMPA _ A Hillsborough County sheriff's deputy drew through a stop sign Friday and crashed into another vehicle, causing minor injuries.

Deputy Carol Frauenfeld was driving a marked vehicle north on 26th Street and failed to see a stop sign at East Lake Avenue, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Frauenfeld, 43, a 15-year veteran deputy, struck a 1991 Toyota that was traveling west on Lake Avenue, the office said. A friend took her to University Community Hospital with an injured ankle, the Sheriff's Office said.

The Toyota's driver, Michael Newman, 36, of Tampa, was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital, the office said, but hospital officials could not confirm he had been brought there. His two passengers were not injured.

Frauenfeld will not be issued a ticket because the Sheriff's Office is insured for such wrecks, said spokeswoman Debbie Carter.

Trooper shot in leg is home from hospital

TAMPA _ Brandon McElderry, a Florida Highway Patrol trooper shot Wednesday morning during a traffic stop, went home Friday after two days at Tampa General Hospital.

Darian Maurice Wright, 28, who was already jailed on multiple felony charges stemming from Wednesday's confrontation, had a charge of attempted murder added Friday. He was being held without bail.

Wright shot McElderry in the right thigh with the trooper's gun after a struggle, the FHP said. McElderry, 30, had seen Wright driving with an expired tag and pulled him over in Southeast Seminole Heights, said Trooper Larry Coggins, an FHP spokesman.

Wright fled, and when McElderry caught him the two struggled, Coggins said. Wright took the trooper's .40-caliber Beretta and shot him, officials say. Tampa police officers arrested Wright a few blocks away.