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Crime Stoppers: Tampa teens take 65-year-old woman hostage

11:08 PM, May 7, 2010   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida - They were supposed to be doing homework and getting ready for bed.

After all, it was a Thursday night. A school night. A time when teenagers should be getting their rest and preparing for school the next day.

On April 22nd, that wasn't the case with four Tampa teenagers.

Armed with guns and dressed in black hoodies and masks, one by one, they stormed into VIP Cut-Rate Liquors at 6905 North Armenia Avenue.

It was 1:00 in the morning, and no one was getting out the door until these guys had their way.

They began yelling at customers, swearing at them, saying, "I'll blow your f-----g heads off."

"Who knows why? They need the money, sometimes they just like the power," says Tampa Police Detective Mike Hutner, who is investigating the case.  "Doesn't seem like they have much fear."

No fear, and no respect, say those who work at the well-known business.

Each young man had a role that night - one watched the door, the other grabbed the clerk, while another patrolled the business and the last one terrorized the customers.

They had clearly done this sort of thing before and knew the place well.  Things were way too orchestrated and organized for this to be their first time.

"Four kids doing a big robbery like this, probably not the first time. My guess is ... is that they'll be talking," Detective Hutner told us during an interview at Tampa Police District Two near Busch Gardens.

What struck even veteran detectives as particularly cruel is the fact that the teenagers took a 65-year-old clerk at gunpoint and forced her into the back room to open the safe.  She had her hands up and complied the whole time, never asking any questions.  She knew these kids were dangerous.

Detective Hutner told us, "You have four people with guns in there, you have somebody who makes a wrong move, and you never kmow what's gonna happen."

The young men were described as African American teenagers, possibly as young as 16 years old.  The range in height from five-foot-one inches tall to six feet.  But, their faces were covered.

Still, they were teeenagers.

That fact could eventually lead detectives to catching these them.

"Kids don't like to keep this to themselves.  They'll brag about it, they'll give details that only people that were invovled in the investigation would know. Yeah... they'll brag about it, " Detective Hutner says.

The detective is hoping these kids are talking and possibly bragging to friends and girlfriends, spreading the word about the "job" they pulled off at VIP Liquors.  The more people who know, the likelihood grows that someone, somewhere out there will talk.

These teens may have gotten away with it, but they left some major evidence behind - themselves.  They are seen all over surveillance tape, and even though their faces are covered, police are hoping that someone may recognize their walk, mannerisms or even a pair of tennis shoes.

One man who was forced onto the floor during the robbery was terrified.  "[He] made it a point to make sure the officers knew that the guy was yelling profanity and screaming, 'I'm gonna blow your head off,'" Detetctive Hutner says.

Detectives do not know if the teenagers had a getaway car.

They are just hoping someone recognizes these kids and turns them in for $1,000 in reward money.  It's an anonymous phone to call to Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay at 1-800-873-TIPS.

Or, you can visit the Crime Stoppers website.

To see the teenagers on surveillance once again, click on the story to the right of this article.

To contact Reporter Melanie Brooks, email melanie@10connects.com

Melanie Brooks, 10 Connects

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