JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Police released surveillance images of the man they believe shot two men outside the Applebee's restaurant on 103rd Street early Sunday morning.
Witnesses say man approached two women and three men who were lingering on a bench after leaving the restaurant when it closed at 2 a.m. According to police, the man them for money as if he was panhandling. After the victims handed him $2, he turned to walk away, but then turned back, pulled a gun and demanded their wallets and cell phones, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.
When one of the victims stood up, he was shot in the chest, police said. A second victim still sitting on the bench was shot in the chin.
Witnesses reported hearing several gunshots.
"We thought he was going to leave after we gave him the money and we decided not to leave, and that's when he opened fire," a witness told Channel 4.
As of Monday afternoon, both shooting victims were still in the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. A friend who visited both men said the most seriously injured faces series of surgeries.
The gunman, described as a thin black man in his early 20s with short dreadlocks, walked away. He was described as wearing a white T-shirt and blue shorts with blue, gray or purple circles on them.
This is the third unsolved robbery attempt and shooting within a 4.5-mile radius in the last three weeks, all of which happened in the early morning hours.
A mile and a half from the Applebee's is where 34-year-old Mike Siegrist was robbed and killed at a bus stop on Jammes Road July 14. On July 19, 22-year-old Amber Bass was shot and killed in her own driveway, 4.4 miles from Applebee's.
Both crimes remain unsolved.
"All around the neighborhood, just within walking distance, there are people losing their lives... family losing their family members, said Siegrist's father, Vinny.
The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office won't talk about any of these investigations, but did say there were 74 robberies within a 5 mile radius of the Applebee's in the past three months -- six more more than the same period last year.
Vinny Siegrist says the description of the Applebee's gunman is very similar to the man he believes robbed and murdered his son.
"There are people out there that know things, and they need to step forward," Siegrist said.
Anyone with information about any these crimes or who recognizes the man or vehicle in the surveillance photos is asked to call the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office or Crime Stoppers at 866-845-TIPS. Callers can remain anonymous and be eligible for a cash reward of up to $3,000.
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