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Mississippi deputy helps track would-be burglars in Riverview

Mug shot of Jovanni Lozano. Lozano and Kevin Noriega Cruz were charged with aggravated assault and burglary for breaking into a Riverview home. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
Mug shot of Jovanni Lozano. Lozano and Kevin Noriega Cruz were charged with aggravated assault and burglary for breaking into a Riverview home. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
Published Jul. 24, 2018

James Murray's timing couldn't have been much better. The same, it seems, could be said of his luck.

Murray, an off-duty deputy with the Lamar County Sheriff's Office in Mississippi, helped Hillsborough deputies track and arrest two men who attempted to rob his mother-in-law's Riverview home, shooting at him during the Monday evening chase, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said.

According to Hillsborough deputies, Jovanni Lozano, 18, of Gibsonton and Kevin Noriega Cruz, 18, of Brandon, used a landscaping rock to shatter a bedroom window in the rear of the house at 10538 Whispering Hammock Dr. just after 7 p.m. Monday. Murray got to the house as the two men were entering through the rear bedroom.

They ran. He chased, calling for help on the way. Lozano, shot at him and missed, according to the Sheriff's Office.

"When the guy pulled a weapon on me," Murray told deputies. "I knew I'd have to just keep eyes on him and get as much information to the dispatcher as possible."

Deputies descended on the area with helicopters and K-9 units. Pilots saw the two attempting to hide in the offices of the Riverview Flower Farm. A K-9 team followed them in.

"One of the dogs, K-9 'Specter,' indicated on a locked office door inside the building," spokeswoman Crystal Clark said. "Lozano and Noriega Cruz were located and arrested without incident."

Murray, a 21-year veteran in Lamar County, just outside of Hattiesburg, Miss., told deputies he was impressed with the response.

"As a deputy myself with 21 years experience, this was impressive," he said. "The response was quick. I was very impressed with the amount of resources used on this."

Lozano and Noriega Cruz were charged with aggravated assault, armed burglary and burglary of a structure. Noriega Cruz was also charged with possession of cocaine.

Daniel Figueroa IV can be reached at dfigueroa@tampabay.com. Follow @danuscripts