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CONVENIENCE STORE FIRE IS RULED ARSON

Tampa

An early morning fire that gutted a Tampa convenience store Thursday was ruled to be arson. The blaze was reported just after 1 a.m. Thursday at the Family Super Store at 3623 N 22nd St., authorities said. When firefighters arrived, heavy smoke was pouring from the building's doors and roof. Firefighters broke through the locked doors and found an intense blaze centered near the rear of the building, authorities said. It took about 30 minutes and 50 firefighters to bring the fire under control. No one was injured. A Tampa fire marshal and police fire inspector determined that someone broke into the business around midnight, then started the fire to destroy evidence of a burglary, police said. Anyone with information about the crime is asked to call Tampa police at (813) 231-6130. To watch video of the fire, go to Links in today's Times at tampabay.com.

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Plant City

Pair charged with armed carjacking

Tampa police charged two men they say stole a car at gunpoint from a Tampa gas station Wednesday before fleeing north and leading police on a foot chase. Police said Justin D. Blackmon, 34, and Timothy A. Connell, 30, were spotted by a Hillsborough County Sheriff's deputy who recognized the brown Honda Accord police said the men stole early Wednesday. When the men noticed the deputy looking at them, police said, they rammed the car into a ditch and leapt out. They ran into woods near the Pasco County line on Bruton Road, west of County Road 39. Police and deputies cordoned off the area and flushed the men out of the woods with search dogs. Both were charged with armed carjacking. Connell was held without bail Thursday in the Hillsborough County Jail. Blackmon's bail was set at $1 million.

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