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Man shot in Lutz robbery gone awry now faces more charges

Christopher Lilly, 30, was shot Thursday while attempting to rob a convenience store at 26556 Wesley Chapel Blvd. in Lutz, according to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office. He's now in the county jail, and more charges were added to the ones he already faces. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times ]
Christopher Lilly, 30, was shot Thursday while attempting to rob a convenience store at 26556 Wesley Chapel Blvd. in Lutz, according to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office. He's now in the county jail, and more charges were added to the ones he already faces. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times ]
Published Jan. 28, 2017

LUTZ — The Pasco County Sheriff's Office identified the men who were held at gunpoint Thursday morning inside a convenience store before one of them shot the masked robber.

Ralph Dinardo, 66, of Land O'Lakes shot Christopher Lilly in the right thigh after Lilly tried to rob the 54 Food Mart on Wesley Chapel Boulevard, according to the Sheriff's Office.

But deputies said Dinardo didn't know at the time that the masked man he shot was an ex-employee.

Lilly, 30, also had charges added to the ones he's already facing: robbery with a deadly weapon, two counts of aggravated assault with intent to commit a felony and misdemeanor charges of violation of a domestic violence injunction and trespassing.

He's being held in the Pasco County jail, where his bail is now $310,000.

Deputies said Lilly walked into the convenience store around 6:40 a.m. Thursday and pointed a semiautomatic handgun at Dinardo and the clerk, Emad Aldean El-Faraj, 39. They were the only two people in the store at the time.

The armed man demanded El-Faraj open the cash register, deputies said, and ordered the two men into a room at a back room. Lilly got behind the counter and removed $5,764 from the register, deputies said.

While taking the money, deputies said Lilly put his gun on the floor next to him. At that point, El-Faraj and Dinardo, who had a concealed weapons permit and was himself armed, confronted Lilly.

Dinardo gave his gun to El-Faraj, who fired what deputies called a warning shot. Then a struggle ensued.

During the wrestling match, Dinardo said he saw Lilly reaching for the gun he had placed on the floor. Dinardo reclaimed his weapon and fired.

When deputies arrived minutes later, a wounded Lilly was trying to run from the store. He was eventually apprehended and flown to St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa for treatment of what deputies called non-life threatening injuries.

The investigation was ongoing Friday, but sheriff's officials said they do not believe Dinardo will face charges. He declined to comment Friday. El-Faraj couldn't be reached.

Deputies said Lilly used to work for Dinardo's landscaping company.

Contact Josh Solomon at (813) 909-4613 or jsolomon@tampabay.com. Follow @josh_solomon15.