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A carjacker armed first with a big stick and then a tree branch took a beating on his first attempt early Tuesday, but later succeeded in stealing a woman's vehicle, deputies said.

Authorities issued an arrest warrant for James M. Williams, 23, of 21121 Little Lake Thomas Drive in Land O'Lakes on two counts of armed carjacking.

Surveillance video from around 3:30 a.m. outside the Sonic restaurant at 2320 Bearss Ave. shows a man deputies identified as Williams carrying a large stick and approaching the driver's-side window of a Chevrolet pickup truck in the drive-through lane.

He demanded the driver get out, then began striking him with the stick when the driver tried to pull away, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. The driver slid out of the passenger side, but got back in when Williams hopped into the driver's seat. The driver kicked Williams in the head until he got out, deputies said.

Williams ran away, sans stick.

But then, just before 4 a.m. and 2 miles north of the Sonic, Williams beat a woman with a tree branch until she got out of her vehicle, authorities said. Her vehicle later was found abandoned at a Circle K store in Pasco County.

Neither victim was seriously injured.

Williams served seven months in prison in 2007 on car theft and drug possession charges, records show.

Anyone with information can contact the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office at (813) 247-8200 or Crime Stoppers toll-free at 1-800-873-8477.

Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report.

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See the attack

To watch surveillance video showing the carjacking attempt outside a Sonic restaurant, go to