Armed robbery suspects arrested after three-county chase, two cruiser crashes

The Sunday morning pursuit began in Tarpon Springs and ended with the arrest of three suspects on Interstate 4 in Lakeland, authorities said.
Three armed robbery suspects were arrested on Interstate 4 in Lakeland on Sunday after leading police on a chase that began in Tarpon Springs.
Three armed robbery suspects were arrested on Interstate 4 in Lakeland on Sunday after leading police on a chase that began in Tarpon Springs. [ Florida Highway Patrol ]
Published Nov. 29, 2020|Updated Nov. 29, 2020

LAKELAND — Three armed robbery suspects were arrested in the middle of Interstate 4 on Sunday after leading law enforcement officers from a number of agencies on a chase across Pinellas, Hillsborough and Polk counties.

Traffic cameras showed the pursuit play out in real-time on the Florida Department of Transportation website. By 9 a.m. Sunday, the cameras showed a number of law enforcement cruisers surrounding a black car in the eastbound lanes of I-4. The incident closed the I-4 on-ramp at Kathleen Road.

Two men and a woman were arrested. The suspects have not yet been identified by police, but the Tarpon Springs Police Department said they will likely face charges of armed robbery.

The pursuit began just before 8 a.m. Sunday when officers responded to an armed robbery in the 1000 block of Lancer Lane, in the Loch Haven neighborhood, the Tarpon Springs Police Department said.

An unidentified woman told detectives the three people robbed her after apparently following her home after she left her office in Tampa. When she arrived, one of the suspects confronted her in her driveway and demanded at gunpoint that she hand over her property, police said.

A second suspect stole items in the front seat of the woman’s car, police said. Then the three suspects sped off in a black vehicle that was quickly spotted by a Tarpon Springs police officer on patrol.

The officer attempted to perform a traffic stop, but the suspects refused to pull over and a pursuit ensued on Interstate 275, the agency said.

In Palm Harbor, the Tarpon Springs officer following the vehicle was involved in a crash at East Lake Road and Tampa Road. The officer wasn’t injured in the crash, and called for Pinellas County Sheriff’s deputies to continue pursuing the suspects as they drove east across county lines.

The chase led officers across the Howard Frankland Bridge, then east on I-4 before ending with the suspects’ arrest in Polk County, near the Kathleen Road ramp in Lakeland.

A Florida Highway Patrol trooper ended the chase with a tactical driving maneuver that involves ramming into the rear of a fleeing car and carefully pushing it sideways, sending it into a spin to stop it.

The trooper suffered minor injuries, the Florida Highway Patrol said. The suspects were apprehended without injury.