BRANDON (FOX 13) - A trip to the ATM turned into an extremely dangerous situation for one Brandon man. He was held a gunpoint, robbed and narrowly missed being shot when he fought to get away. It happened Saturday around 8 p.m. at the Suncoast Credit Union on Oakfield Drive.
The suspect, armed with a silver .40-caliber handgun, ordered the victim to give him cash. A surveillance camera captured the entire thing.
Forty seconds into the holdup, the ATM customer handed him the money. About 30 seconds later, he gave the suspect another handful of cash. But, after about two minutes, the ATM customer made a bold transaction. He went for the gun.
"There was a struggle and the gun ended up being fired," said Cristal Nunez, Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office Public Information Officer. "Luckily, this victim was not injured, or any bystanders."
The victim, still shaken up, didn't want to speak on camera. He told us he's just thankful to be alive and that it ended the way it did.
Still, law enforcement will always recommend you don't fight unless you truly have to.
"This could've ended a lot differently," Nuñez said. "Whether you're armed or not, try to comply with the suspect's demands and get away as fast as you can and contact law enforcement. Don't try to take matters into your own hands."
Louis Rodriguez co-owns a Hokulia Shaved Ice, which is not far from the bank where the armed robbed happened. He said he tries to avoid any withdrawals in the dark.
"I would try to use an ATM that's inside a facility, somewhere that's very lit," Rodriguez said. "In life, you just have to be cautious. You have to be aware of your surroundings no matter what you are doing. Don't put yourself in danger. If can avoid it, just avoid it."
But, even in the dark, the thief deposited several valuable close-ups of his face, right into the surveillance camera.
The suspect was later identified as 20-year-old Estevan Lerma. Deputies obtained a warrant and arrested Lerma without incident.