St. Petersburg Police race to nab serial robbers

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - St. Petersburg Police are asking for the public's help to track down a dangerous duo they believe robbed four convenience stores at gunpoint in just over a week.

The robberies typically last just a minute or two and follow the same pattern. Two hooded men storm in, one points a gun while the other steals money from a cash register.

Wednesday morning, police believe the men hit their fourth location around 11am, the Sunoco station at 6800 4th Street North.  The place was robbed while Mato Galic stood at the register and a beer distributor stood in the back.

"I was scared for customers," said Sunoco clerk Galic. "After me, he pointed the gun for him."

Galic just started working at the Sunoco station two weeks ago. The men took about $1,200.

"He pulled the gun for him. He took money, a laptop, everything I have," Galic said.

Galic didn't know that at the same moment he had a gun pointed at his face, ABC Action News was beginning an interview with police about the very same men.

"This is a very dangerous situation that we're dealing with right now," said SPPD Spokesman Mike Puetz.

Right after Puetz said that, a nearby detective received a call that the men likely pulled off another robbery. Our crew raced over to the scene at the Sunoco to find crime tape and forensic detectives.

Police believe the men started their string on February 5 inside a Citgo station at 900 34th Street North. The next two came on February 11, beginning with the Chevron station  at 5405 Dr. MLK Street North, ending at a food store at 2835 16th Street North.

"The gun, he pointed it at my cousin," explained Mina Armanious. "My cousin got scared and said, 'Don't point the gun at me.'"

Police believe Armanious' cousin was the first victim, a clerk at the Citgo station robbed last week. The surveillance camera caught one man with a clear view of his face, wearing a Pinellas Park sweatshirt.

Armanious was shocked to learn the men may be responsible for three more in just days, and fears they may soon turn violent.

"Hopefully they won't do it; they're not stupid enough to do it. But I don't know what they're going to do next," Armanious said. "The police better catch them soon enough."

No one has been injured yet, but police fear what may happen if customers are involved.

Samir Garib typically shops at the Sunoco station everyday to buy cigarettes. He missed Wednesday's robbery by about 45 minutes.

"It looks like I'm not going in today," he said.  "I guess I'm lucky today."

Puetz believes the men will likely strike again until they're caught, with potentially deadly consequences.

"We have seen people shot and killed in these types of robberies. So, we want to put an end to this as quickly as possible before anyone does get hurt."

There is a reward offered for any information leading to the arrest of the men. Anyone with information should call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-873-TIPS.

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