HOLIDAY (FOX 13) - Deputies in Pasco County are looking for a well-protected suspect who was brazen enough to open fire with a shotgun while robbing a Holiday convenience store.
Ashwin Patel and his family have owned the store since 2002, he says it's a place where everyone says hello to each other.
"Why would anybody want come in here and do this?" Patel asked. "It's beyond me."
According to the sheriff’s office, the robbery happened at the Beacon Square Grocery along Moog Road just before 9 p.m. Friday. Store surveillance video shows the man – clad in a tactical vest and gas mask while armed with a shotgun – burst into the shop.
The robber harasses a customer and then shoved Patel's brother out of the way while rummaging around behind the counter for cash. That customer, Luke Hoffman, had no idea what was happening.
"He asked me on a first name basis to lay down on the floor and stop fumbling around, then he put a shot gun in my face," Hoffman recalled.
The suspect pauses on his way out to fire a shotgun blast toward the back of the store, then took off.
"Traumatic, still thinking about it, puts your life in front of your eyes real quick, makes you appreciate what you have sitting at home," Hoffman said.
Deputies are hoping the public can help them identify the man. Anyone with information is asked to call the Pasco Sheriff's Crime Tips Line at 1-800-706-2488.