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Police shoot suspected robber in S. Tampa; another still at large

Published Mar. 4, 2015

TAMPA — A manhunt was underway early Wednesday in South Tampa hours after police shot and arrested one robbery suspect at a CVS on S Howard Avenue and another got away, authorities said.

The Tampa Police Department has identified the man who was shot as 29-year-old Tony C. Harrison. He has previously served prison time on robbery charges.

An "extensive search" for the other man was under way involving officers, a helicopter and bloodhound patrols, according to a police news release. He was described as an average built black male, between the ages of 18 and 25, wearing all black clothing.

About 1 a.m., police said, the two men entered the CVS at 611 S Howard Ave. One pointed a gun at a customer, forcing him out of the store. The customer called 911 from his car, according to authorities.

Inside, the two men demanded money from a clerk at gunpoint, police said. When the clerk could not open other registers, the robbers reportedly "dragged her around the store" trying to get her to open the machines. They later did the same with a manager, according to police.

Officers said they found Harrison leaving through the front door when they arrived and told him to get on the ground. He didn't comply, according to police reports, and two officers fired their weapons, wounding him in the thigh and arm, said Lt. Kimberly Plourde-Torres. Harrison ran two blocks before being arrested.

The other man ran out the back door of the store and was still at large Wednesday morning. Police believe he was wearing a T-shirt over his face at the time of the robbery. Plourde-Torres said investigators may have found the shirt and a pair of latex gloves outside a nearby bank.

Officers were scouring the area surrounding the CVS on Wednesday morning.

"It's much easier to do in the light," Plourde-Torres said. Crime scene tape circled the parking lot as authorities collected evidence inside and outside the store. A group of people wearing CVS polo shirts stood in the parking lot and said they were not allowed to discuss the robbery.

Harrison has an extensive criminal history, most of it consisting of arrests for petty crimes in the Orlando area, state records show. In July he was released from state prison following an eight-year sentence for robbery and burglary in Orange and Volusia counties. Just days after his release, he was charged in Orange County with contempt of court.

He was listed in stable condition Wednesday morning at a local hospital.

Tampa police identified the involved officers as Ryan Jacques, 40, who had been with the department for 12 years, and reserve officer Bob Carey, 60, who has been with the department for 30 years. One of the two was taken to the hospital for observation, according to police, but was not hurt.

Carey was working extra duty for a Hyde Park neighborhood when the robbery took place, police said. Both he and Jacques were put on paid administrative leave while the incident was investigated — standard procedure after officer-involved shootings.

Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor and State Attorney Mark Ober were at the scene before dawn Wednesday. Ober's office will lead one investigation, according to police, while the department's internal affairs and homicide investigators will lead separate investigations.

The neighborhood surrounding the CVS is known as Soho, a hip area of South Tampa that hosts a busy bar scene. Rows of pastel colored town homes line the back side of the CVS, beside a pilates studio and a pizza parlor advertising vegan and gluten-free options.

"This never happens," said Branden Wabe, 23, who lives a couple blocks from the CVS and regularly makes late-night stops there.

In fact, Wabe was headed there for some water after he got home around 3 a.m. Wednesday — "It's the only thing that's open that late," he said, "and it's within walking distance" — when he was stopped by police.

He heard helicopters circling overhead, he said, and "there were cops on every single corner. They wouldn't let you anywhere."

S Moody Avenue from W Swann Avenue to W De Leon Street and W De Leon Street from S Moody Avenue to S Armenia Avenue were closed while authorities investigated the incident early Wednesday morning. By 8:30 a.m., all streets had been reopened and the CVS was accepting customers.

Times staff writer Zachary T. Sampson contributed to this report. Contact Katie Mettler at kmettler@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3446. Follow @kemettler on Twitter.