The way the police see it, a crime wave is a crime wave, no matter how successful the criminals.
Police in Tampa arrested three St. Petersburg teenagers and accused them of stealing a car, trying to steal at least three others and robbing two men at gunpoint in a chaotic, hourlong episode Sunday afternoon.
Jataie J. Gamble, 18, of 768 Newton Ave., and two juveniles; Jennie LaShawn Williams, 17, of 3840 34th Ave. S, Apt. G, and John A. Ellis, 16, listed with a 14th Street address, have been charged with armed robbery and grand theft auto, Tampa police Lt. Ronald McMullen said. Police described the episode this way:
About 2 p.m. the three drove in a stolen black 1996 Dodge Intrepid from St. Petersburg to Leona Street and Clark Avenue in South Tampa. Armed with a .25-caliber automatic pistol, at least one member of the group robbed two men at gunpoint at 2:37 p.m.
Then they drove less than a mile to Britton Plaza, 3838 S Dale Mabry Highway, and attempted to steal a black 1999 Dodge Durango. The three fled after the car's owner returned to the parking lot, police said.
Three miles away, police say, the group tried again. They approached a man mowing his lawn at 2516 Shell Point Road. Police say Williams pointed the handgun at him and asked for the keys to his 2004 Chevrolet Avalanche.
The man ran, however, and the group left in the Dodge Intrepid and headed toward 5004 Colonial Drive.
At that address at 3:30 p.m., a male suspect pointed a gun at a man and demanded the keys to his GMC Yukon. The man declined, and the group fled again.
Tampa police Sgt. Debbie Hutches spotted the stolen Dodge driving north on S Dale Mabry Highway at Bay to Bay Boulevard, McMullen said.
Police chased the vehicle, and several unmarked police cars surrounded the suspects at Sterling Avenue and North B Street. The suspects stopped the car and ran. Police officers chased them on foot and caught them, finally bringing the incident to a close.
Gamble was charged with several counts of armed robbery, two counts of grand theft of a motor vehicle and two counts of carjacking. He was in the Orient Road Jail without bail Sunday night.
Details on the charges against Williams and Ellis were not available late Sunday.
Catherine E. Shoichet can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 661-2454.