STARKE, Fla. – Tuesday night, minutes after a Brooker convenience store was held up by a masked man with a gun who then left in a car driven by a woman, Bradford County Sheriff's Office deputies pulled over a car and charged the two occupants with armed robbery.
According to the Sheriff's Office, a man in a hoodie wearing a mask entered the Kangaroo Store on S.W. State Road 231 at 7:50 p.m. and demanded cash and cigarettes.
A description of the getaway vehicle provided by witnesses dispatched to deputies led to a traffic stop on Dedan Loop and took the man and woman into custody without incident.
The Sheriff's Office said 25-year-old Michael James and 24-year-old Ashley Baer made full confessions, with James saying he robbed the store to feed his drug habit.
"We received a call about an armed robbery that happened at a convenience store in Brooker," said Captain Brad Smith of the Bradford County Sheriff's Office. "When our officers were en route to that area, we had a witness call in and say they were following vehicle."
Todd and Barbara Elliott told Channel 4 that they witnessed the crime. Todd said one suspects waved a gun at him outside the Kangaroo.
"I was extremely scared. I could barely drive," said Elliot. "I drove around behind the store and that's when I had seen the getaway car. We seen 'em and we're driving, we hung back and watched and followed. They went up hill and we saw them go in a dead-end loop, and there's only one way out of that."
The Bradford County Sheriff's office is applauding the Elliott's help. Capt. Smith said the Elliot's were brave and cautious enough to help police track down James and Baer.
"They did what they should've done," said Smith. "Kept a safe distance, kept eyes on them, allowed us to get officers in the area and we were able to put these people in jail."
Both defendants were booked into the Bradford County jail.