TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Authorities apprehended a man Friday who was suspected in several violent home invasions and sexual assaults overnight in the Tampa area that led to a massive manhunt and the partial lockdown of several schools.
Officials said the man who was involved in an overnight crime spree near the University of South Florida is also a suspect in two earlier home invasions and assaults in Tampa. He was identified at a news conference earlier in the day as 24-year-old Charlie Bates.
Shortly before 1 p.m., Hillsborough County Sheriff’s deputies said in a news release that the suspect was spotted in a vehicle just north of Interstate 4. The suspect had been shot at least once and was taken to a hospital, but his medical condition is unclear. No officers were injured, authorities said.
During the morning news conference, Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee and Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor said Bates was extremely dangerous.
The violent spree started unfolding late Thursday night, they said, when the suspect entered an apartment, bound four men and sexually assaulted four women. He then confronted a woman in a different apartment complex. She was sitting outside of her apartment, and the suspect forced her inside at gunpoint and told her to undress.
Castor said the suspect’s “entire attitude changed” when the victim began to pray.
“He ended up apologizing and leaving,” she said.
Officials said the woman pleaded with the man to leave her alone, and then he left. A short while later, he entered an apartment through an open door at another apartment complex, where 25 people were attending a party, authorities said.
He forced the 25 people into a bedroom at gunpoint, firing at least one round into the carpet, deputies said.
The suspect left the apartment and chased a man into his apartment, firing his gun along the way, officials said. The man was not hurt.
Authorities said that the suspect is likely the same man who broke into a Tampa home on Aug. 29 and told a woman to disrobe. The woman started praying and he left — but he cut himself on glass as he broke into the home, and police got his DNA from the blood he left behind. That DNA was what linked him to Thursday’s crimes.
The man is also a suspect in another invasion at a Tampa home on Tuesday, during which he stole credit cards and was later caught on a surveillance camera using the cards.
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