Helmet-wearing gunman robs Howard Johnson motel

SJCSO: Surveillance video shows man point gun at clerk, demand money

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – A man wearing a motorcycle helmet robbed a Howard Johnson motel at gunpoint Wednesday night, the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office said.

A man walked into the motel at the corner of County Road 208 and State Road 16 about 9 p.m. and pointed a handgun at the clerk while demanding money, the Sheriff's Office said.

The Sheriff's Office said the robber took cash from the motel's register and fled on foot. 

The motel is just off Interstate 95 near the St. Augustine outlet malls, and the busy area has multiple hotels. Some in the area were on edge Thursday after learning of the robbery.

Surveillance video shows the clerk and a woman in the lobby as a man walks in wearing a motorcycle helmet.

He is seen pointing his gun at the clerk, who runs a few steps before stopping. As the man gets closer, the clerk goes to the register to grab cash. The woman, who had been checking in, stands there the entire time, barely moving.

Within seconds, the robber is seen fleeing out the front door.

The Sheriff's Office said there were no exterior surveillance cameras in the area that caught the man running out.

Other hotel workers and businesses in the area said they are shocked.

"This is a small town," said Ryan Rush of Dive Source of St. Augustine. "Usually we don’t have those kinds of issues. Honestly, being so close to the highway, it probably comes down from Jacksonville, that crime spreading into our area."

Rush's shop is across the street from the Howard Johnson. He said his store has had a few theft problems in the past, but nothing like the armed robbery at the motel. He said that's why the store installed surveillance cameras.

"We try to take extra steps and measures to ensure safety for our employees," Rush said. "It’s definitely worth the extra cost."

A manager working at the Howard Johnson said the clerk who was robbed is shaken up but doing OK.

He also said the motel doesn't have security patrolling the property, but ownership could change that policy after the robbery. 

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Sheriff's Office at 904-824-8304.