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Tampa man, 19, arrested in Brandon undercover deal that ended in gunfire

Charges against Jaycob Riley indicate he is suspected of firing at five Hillsborough deputies at a mall parking lot Monday.
Jordan Gracia, left, and Jaycob Riley, right, face charges in an undercover gun buy that ended in gunfire Monday at Westfield Brandon mall.
Jordan Gracia, left, and Jaycob Riley, right, face charges in an undercover gun buy that ended in gunfire Monday at Westfield Brandon mall. [ Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office ]
Published Jan. 27|Updated Jan. 27

BRANDON — A man wanted for shooting at deputies outside Westfield Brandon mall on Monday has been taken into custody, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office says.

Jaycob Riley, 19, was arrested late Wednesday night in the vicinity of Busch Boulevard and 12th Street, a retail and industrial area.

Two men accused of helping Riley escape from authorities also have been arrested as accessories after the fact, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Riley and 19-year-old Jordan Gracia arranged a gun buy with an undercover deputy in the parking lot at Westfield Brandon mall Monday afternoon then tried to rob the deputy at gunpoint, the Sheriff’s Office said. Other deputies closed in, the two men fled and shots were fired.

Gracia was arrested at the scene and deputies launched a manhunt for Riley.

Related: Why buy guns undercover at Brandon mall? Deals are often ‘back and forth.’

Only Riley faces charges involving firing a weapon — five counts of attempted first-degree murder of a law enforcement officer and shooting into a vehicle, according to jail records. He also faces charges of robbery with a firearm and felon in possession of a firearm.

Riley was sentenced to up to a year in jail in March for charges including grand theft. He was arrested earlier in Pasco County on a charge of carrying a concealed weapon. The charge was dropped.

Gracia, of Lithia, faces charges of robbery with a firearm, dealing in stolen property and felon in possession of a firearm.

The undercover deputy planned to buy two Glock 9mm handguns that had been reported stolen in Hillsborough County, Gracia’s arrest report said. The goal of the operation was to get guns off the street, the Sheriff’s Office said.

No one was injured in the 4 p.m. Monday incident but the gunfire gave shoppers and employees a scare and the mall with its 150 stores shut down for the day.

Surveillance footage led investigators to men who helped Riley after the shootings, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Gian Cantillo, 19, who works at the Red Robin restaurant in the mall, helped Riley with new clothing and cutting his hair so no one would recognize him leaving the area, the Sheriff’s Office said. Cantillo also is accused of letting Riley stay at his home. Eric Paul, 31, an inmate at an Orlando work-release center, tried to arrange for his girlfriend to drive Riley out of Hillsborough County to evade arrest, the Sheriff’s Office said.

The two men were arrested Wednesday night. During the arrests, investigators recovered $600 of undercover buy-money from a pocket in clothes Riley had been wearing.

For media outlets, soundbites from Sheriff Chad Chronister regarding these arrests can be found below.

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