TAMPA — A man accused of holding a woman and 2-year-old baby hostage at a Tampa hotel room surrendered Monday morning after an 8½-hour standoff, but not before firing a weapon and injuring a sheriff’s deputy, Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister said.
The hostages, immediate relatives of the suspect, were not hurt. It appears shrapnel from a bullet grazed the face of the deputy, a SWAT Team member, and he suffered a minor cut, Chronister said.
Victor Hernandez Figueroa, 53, of Lexington, N.C., surrendered about 8 a.m. and was taken into custody at the Suburban Extended Stay Hotel, 6902 W Hillsborough Ave. He was being held without bail Monday at the Hillsborough County Jail on two counts of armed false imprisonment.
Hillsborough Avenue was closed in both directions during the standoff, between Hanley and Sawyer. Nearly 60 guests, including children, were evacuated from the hotel and waited hours outside for word they could return.
“I hope they can go inside their hotel rooms and get some much-needed rest,” Chronister said at a Monday morning news conference.
The sheriff praised the SWAT Team members and negotiators for their “diplomacy and professionalism” during the standoff, noting that they refrained from returning fire after the suspect fired at them because they could not be sure they had a clear shot.
Most of the deputies called to the scene had been working extra hours already during the weekend Wrestlemania event at Raymond James Stadium and ended up putting in more than 24 hours on the job, Chronister said.
The sheriff gave this account of the standoff:
Hernandez, the woman and baby were in Florida on vacation and had come to Tampa from another location in the state. Hernandez and the woman got into an argument in the hotel room and he refused to let her or the baby leave.
Chronister declined to identify the two or their relation to Hernandez because of Marsy’s Law, a voter-approved amendment to the state Constitution that was meant to protect crime victims but that deprives the public of information long available under Florida’s public records law.
The woman alerted a relative by phone and the relative contacted authorities at about 11:15 p.m., informing them that Hernandez was believed to have a small firearm. Deputies who were called to the hotel looked through the window of Hernandez’ room and saw that the woman and baby were being held hostage.
Deputies tried to reach Hernandez on the hotel’s phone and to provide him with another phone but he refused, yelling obscenities as he grew more agitated. He fired a weapon a number of times inside the room and at the SWAT Team member as he tried to communicate with Hernandez. Hernandez also tried to set the room on fire, Chronister said.