Tampa, Florida -- Tampa Police are searching for the robber who they say could be behind two different shootings that happened just a couple miles and 11 minutes apart. Investigators call the bold crime spree unusual, because the gunman targeted two random victims.
The first shooting happened inside Best for Less restaurant on North 22nd Street near University Square Mall just before 9:30 p.m. Thursday. Officers say the gunman held up three people inside of the restaurant and shot one victim twice. Police are not yet releasing his name, but tell 10 News that he's in "serious, but stable" condition.
Police say the gunman took off from the restaurant and tried to rob an 18-year-old man on Jasmine Avenue off Linebaugh. Investigators tell us he was also hit twice and is at the hospital recovering. Police tell 10News that the second victim is in "stable" condition and is doing better than the first victim.
Willie Thompson had been walking up behind Best for Less restaurant Thursday night when gunfire rang out.
"Just two shots, 'bang, bang' that was it," says Thompson. He came face-to-face with the armed robber as he ran out. Thompson says it was dark, and he didn't get a good look at the shooter.
"I wish I could have. I wish I would've known what was going on. As soon as I heard it, I stopped. I was looking around where it's coming from. In no time, he ran past and kept going. From the view I saw he was kind of young, but it was the side view and he was a pretty fast," says Thompson.
Lawrence Francis, the manager of Best for Less, tells 10 News that his 53-year-old friend, Noel Barnes, had been visiting him at the restaurant when he friend was shot.
Police say Barnes was hit by two bullets. The robber got away with a chain necklace that he ripped off a victim.
Investigators are talking with witnesses, but say there isn't any surveillance video from the store or nearby businesses.
11 minutes later, police say 18 year old Corey Smith was riding his bike on Jasmine Avenue near Linebaugh. Officers say he passed a car, and an armed robber got out, said 'Give me the goods' and then shot him several times.
The teen managed to ride back to Citgo on Nebraska Avenue for help.
Police are trying to come up with a description of the shooter and a possible getaway car. Officers say it's unusual a robber would target two random victims so close together.
"The victims did not know each other. Now, whether the suspect knew them... we have no idea at this time," says Tampa Police Lt. Ronald McMullen. "We have active leads and are going through and going over them right now. The community is helping. The quicker you give us information, the quicker will get him off the street."
Police have not made an arrest. They're asking for tips from the public, to help catch this dangerous robber before someone does get killed.
"I'm sorry. I hope both of them do well and pull through," says Thompson.
Detectives are working to determine if both incidents involved the same suspect(s). Anyone with information about either of these armed robberies is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-873-TIPS(8477) or text "CSTB plus your tip" to 274637 (CRIMES). Anonymous tips leading to an arrest may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000 in cash.