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Tampa police arrest man in string of bank robberies

TAMPA — Police arrested a man Thursday that they say is responsible for three separate Tampa bank robberies in the last six weeks.

The arrest of Frederick D. Williams came just hours after he robbed the third bank Thursday morning, officials said.

Williams, 42, walked into C1 Bank at 110 S Boulevard about 10 a.m. Thursday, police said. He walked up to a teller and handed over a note demanding money before fleeing with cash, police said.

After interviewing witnesses to the robbery, detectives examined surveillance footage from the University Inn, directly behind the bank, officials said. That led them to identify Williams, who had checked out of a room at the hotel minutes before the robbery, police said. They also learned that Williams had hailed a cab and rode to the Westfield Brandon shopping mall. When officers arrived there, they found Williams walking out of an exit carrying a pair of Adidas tennis shoes that he had evidently just purchased with the stolen money, police said.

Williams is believed to be the same man who robbed two other banks in August and September along Dale Mabry Highway, authorities said, prompting police to appeal to the public to help identify him.

The first robbery was just before 11 a.m. on Aug. 31 at Regions Bank at 5115 S Dale Mabry Highway. Authorities said a man walked into the bank's lobby and sat in a chair before approaching a teller with a note demanding money. The method was the same in the next robbery, which happened just before noon on Sept. 14 at Chase Bank, 2001 N Dale Mabry Highway.

Williams has served seven terms in state prison over the years for convictions related to the possession and sale of cocaine and marijuana, according to state records. His record of arrests stretches back to 1987. He was most recently released from prison in December 2012.

He was booked Thursday in the Hillsborough County jail on three counts of armed robbery and a charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm. He was held without bail.