HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A possible hostage situation has Interstate 4 ramps blocked Saturday morning, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.
Around 7:30 am three black males carjacked a black charger from the 1600 block of Ladora Drive in Brandon. They took off onto I-4 towards Polk. Deputies spotted them and they fled off the County Line Road exit which is on the Hillsborough County and Polk County line. They ditched the car on the median and tried to carjack someone waiting in line at the McDonald’s for food. That person had a gun and scared them off. The McDonalds is located in Lakeland.
The three men believed to be from the Orlando area, then jumped trough the drive-through the window at the McDonalds. One of the suspects surrendered early. Two others were still inside.
A witness Larry Tedder was at the restaurant.
“And I saw three guys run out to the side, one of them had a gun,” he said. “Like the movies. Like I saw in the movies. It’s not true. It was real life.”
He hurried out of the restaurant.
All of the employees got out safely. One person was communicating with a family member and claimed to be a hostage but in a secret location. Investigators communicated with that family member but were not sure whether or not the person was a hostage, or if it was a suspect pretending.
Sheriff Gee said they did not directly communicate to the suspects at first. They used a robot in the building. Soon both suspects were walked out of the building by law enforcement.
“All day long we were working under the premise, we had a person that was on social media, was saying that he was also being held hostage inside the McDonalds,” Sheriff gee explained. “He wasn’t even there. He just seized on it and said that he was being held and even gone so far as to text his sister and tell his sister that he was held hostage in the McDonalds. Saw something on the news and took the opportunity.”
The ramps to I-4 reopened soon after the arrests were made.
Hillsborough County Sheriff’s office is leading the investigation, with the help of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, the Lakeland Police Department, and Plant City Police Department.
McDonald’s owner and operator Lanny Sumpter issued the following statement:
“We are relieved and thankful all employees and customers are safe, as that is always our primary concern. We also appreciate the fast work of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department, the Lakeland Police Department and the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. As this is an ongoing investigation, it would be inappropriate for us to comment further.”
Stay with WFLA for more on this developing story.
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