Suspect in Pinellas robberies caught after chase, crash - FOX 13 News

Suspect in Pinellas robberies caught after chase, crash

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CLEARWATER (FOX 13) -

It's a messy ending to a string of crimes: a truck overturned, a robbery suspect swept away to the hospital, and the power out for a Clearwater neighborhood.

"I heard like a big noise, and I thought there was an explosion or something outside," Clearwater resident Isabella Tagaras said Wednesday.

It was the sound of a robbery suspect's truck as he slammed into a utility pole. Clearwater police had been following him for much of the afternoon, but when they signaled him to stop, he did just the opposite.

"When we tried to pull him over, he started driving erratically, recklessly and ended up flipping his truck," Clearwater Police's Rob Shaw said Wednesday.

The dramatic crash followed a series of strange discount-store robberies, all caught on camera.

"He goes in, kind of mills around the store. In one case he picked up a pack of razors. The other, he picked up a bag of chips, so he looks like an ordinary shopper," Shaw said.

What happens next is anything but ordinary. On Sunday afternoon, police say the man robbed a Dollar General store, swinging around a giant machete. Just days later, police say he hit a Family Dollar, stabbing the clerk in the hand with an 8-inch knife.

Police suspect he's behind two more similar robberies in Largo, on Wednesday.

"That's not your typical robbery tool. A lot of time your bad guys have guns or other weapons or threaten the clerks, it's not too often you see someone pull an 18-inch machete out of their pants," Shaw said.

Clearwater police haven't named the suspect yet because he's still being treated for his injuries at Bayfront Hospital. They say once he's recovered, they'll formally charge and name him.

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