BRANDON, Fla. - Investigators believe a suspected serial bank robber is escalating after a failed robbery attempt and shooting at GTE Financial in Brandon Friday.
The suspect in Friday's robbery could be the same man who has robbed banks in Brandon, Tampa, Pinellas Park, Valrico, and Clearwater, going back more than a year.
Bank robbery and shooting suspect photographed at GTE Financial in Brandon.
During the latest incident, the suspect shot a Brinks security employee who was refilling an ATM at 101 East Bloomingdale Blvd., as well as a good Samaritan who tried to step in, according to Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister.
After the failed robbery and shootings, the suspect took off. Deputies tracked the suspected getaway vehicle to the Brideport Apartments, at 3385 Creekridge Road. SWAT, aviation, and K-9 units searched eight apartments where the suspect's getaway car was found, but the suspect was not located the sheriff said.
Deputies believe he used another vehicle to flee the apartment complex.
The suspect, whose location is unknown, was described as a black male with dreadlocks, who is about 6 feet, 2 inches tall and weighs approximately 185 lbs.
Serial bank robbery suspect photographed at multiple incidents dating back to Oct. 2018. (Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay)
According to a statement to the media, the sheriff's office said deputies "will maintain an active presence at the apartment complex throughout [Friday] night. Deputies are gathering surveillance video from the scene. There appears to be no threat to the residents living in the area."
Investigators are working to determine if the suspect, who is believed to be armed and dangerous, is the same suspect linked to multiple bank robberies throughout the Bay Area.
According to Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay, a suspect matching a similar description has robbed Mid-Florida Credit Unions in Brandon, Tampa, Pinellas Park, and Clearwater, beginning October 22, 2018, as well as a Suncoast Credit Union in Valrico on August 27, 2019. Sheriff Chad Chronister confirmed his investigators were operating under the assumption Friday's incident involved the same suspect.
Meanwhile, the Brinks employee and good Samaritan shot during Friday's attempted robbery underwent surgery, but were expected to survive.
HCSO said the Brinks truck driver was shot once in his ballistic vest and once in the lower body. The other victim was shot once in the lower body, as well.
Anyone who recognizes the suspect is asked to contact the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office at 813-247-8200. To be eligible for a cash reward, call Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay first at 1-800-873-TIPS (8477).
Brinks released a statement after the shooting, saying, "Our thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery are with our colleague who was injured this morning. Since this incident is part of an active criminal investigation, we can only say that we are working closely with local and federal law enforcement."