Hillsborough County deputies have arrested two teenagers accused of carrying out a violent, brazen series of attacks.
Just before 1 a.m. Sunday, Vanessa Martinez says she was coming back to her home at Foxcroft Apartments just off Dale Mabry Highway after making a quick run to the store.
When she got out of her car in the parking lot to walk back to her apartment, she says a man jumped her, grabbed and demanded her purse.
She refused to give it to him and the suspect then called for help. A second man then joined in. The two beat her with a pistol and kicked her, leaving her face badly bruised, cut, and her left eye swollen shut. The men made off with her purse, cell phone, keys, and even the shoes on her feet. Despite all she endured, Martinez says she still counts her blessings, especially that her young son wasn't with her during the attack.
"I'm thankful to be alive because I could've been dead. So I'm thankful that they didn't shoot me. I'd rather take the beating than the shooting," said Martinez.
While deputies were investigating what happened to Martinez, they heard shots being fired in the same apartment complex. The suspects had beaten up another man, stolen his belongings and fired shots into his apartment, hitting his friend in the leg. Neighbors tell us the two had just moved into the apartment Saturday and moved back out Sunday because of what happened.
After the second attack, the teens headed to a neighboring apartment complex where they beat, shot at, and stole from a third victim.
Deputies were able to set up a perimeter and caught both young men.
Nicholas Gillham, 18, and a 16-year-old were both arrested and now face charges including petit theft, aggravated battery, assault and firing into an occupied dwelling.
Deputies say the two were found with many of the items they had stolen, and that the 16-year-old confessed to the crimes.