A horrifying hotel robbery was caught on security video. There could have been any number of hotel guests coming and going and it's amazing no one got hurt.
This happened in such a high-traffic area on U.S. Highway 301, it was certainly a bold move and it wasn't even that late at night, only 10:45 Monday evening.
The front desk clerk is cool and collected, despite a shotgun being pointed at her, while one of the crooks jumps the counter and empties the drawer.
The two men, one of which was armed with a shotgun, stormed into the La Quinta Inn on U.S. Highway 301, right across from the State Fairgrounds, aimed at her straight away, while the other one hopped the counter and began robbing the cash register drawer.
"Just seeing the two of them, their faces are all blacked out, armed with a shotgun, they look like they're very well-prepared, obviously they know of video surveillance, so they've got their faces covered," said Larry McKinnon with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. This probably was not this pair's first time committing a crime he said, but applauded the clerk for doing exactly what she should have, in a situation like this.
"There's never enough money worth somebody's life, so we definitely encourage them to give up the money," added McKinnon.
There's at least a half a dozen hotels and restaurants side-by-side on that stretch of 301. Had this been an event night at the Florida State Fairgrounds, there could have been hundreds of people milling about when these two suspects were running around with those potentially loaded shotguns.
"It's the end of an evening, a lot of people are getting back to their hotel rooms," said McKinnon. "There was extreme potential for violence and something happening, something going wrong."
Only three doors north on 301, the Wing House was open late and had a house full of regulars, like Patricia Taylor and Lee Everson.
"Yes it does, it really concerns me," said Everson when he heard what had happened.
"It's scary because it could have been anybody," said Taylor.
The manager told FOX 13 he walks the female employees to their cars to make sure everyone gets to their cars safely. Both Taylor and Everson said they'll look twice before leaving, but that they are prepared.
"I might be packing," said Everson -- smiling, but being serious.
"Pack something else, to make sure that you can equalize the situation," said Taylor. "Do you know how to fire a gun?," we asked. "Oh absolutely, I know how to make my own bullets!," she replied.
Luckily, no bullets were fired this time.
"We put them in jail and send them to prison a lot of times when they've got their faces concealed," said McKinnon. "It's because they brag and can't keep their mouths shut, so that's what we're depending on and hope that happens in this case."
No one saw where the men went or how they got away once they fled the hotel. We spoke with La Quinta's corporate folks and they were not able to comment, nor was the female clerk in the video.
You can watch the surveillance video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nz8kf_-fqo0
If you know anything about this crime, call Hillsborough deputies or Crimestoppers.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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