TAMPA Police are investigating an armed robbery that happened early this morning at a Waffle House restaurant at 509 N. Westshore Blvd., Tampa police spokeswoman Andrea Davis said.
Just after 4:30 a.m., three men wearing ski masks or dark shirts around their faces walked into the restaurant carrying handguns and demanded money, Davis said. There were eight people already inside when they rushed in.
A woman inside ran from the restaurant while the armed robbers were inside, Davis said. She called 911 and an officer was on-scene within one minute. As the officer was pulling into the Waffle House parking lot, the suspects were leaving the lot in a Ford Bronco.
They had just carjacked someone for that vehicle, Davis said. Seconds later, two additional officers were on scene and all three officers followed the robbers north on Interstate 275.
They ditched the Bronco just east of the Willow Street overpass on the left shoulder of I-275, ran across four lanes of traffic and down the overpass embankment, she said.
Officers followed on foot, and once on Willow Street, at least one man turned and fired a handgun at the officers. All three officers fired back, striking one suspect in the leg.
The injured suspect, whose identity is being withheld at this time by police, was unable to flee with the other two suspects. He had a handgun and a pocket full of money and jewelry, Davis said.
He was rushed to St. Joseph's Hospital and has been released to police. He is currently being interviewed at Tampa Police Headquarters.
The names of the officers involved will be released later today.
Police are still trying to locate the other two suspects. They were last seen running into North Boulevard Homes. Police are saturating the area. Anyone with information is asked to contact Tampa Police, 813-231-6130.
The entire event took place in five minutes, from the time of the robbery to the shooting, Davis said.
The robbers are described as follows:
The injured suspect is a 26-year-old male. The second gunman was a black male, 5 feet, 10 inches to 6 feet tall, weighing 200 pounds and wearing dark layered clothing and black wool gloves. The third gunman was a thin black male wearing a khaki shirt and dark pants.