Witness says armed robber almost forced him to be his getaway driver

Authorities say gunman is responsible for series of crimes across South Florida

By Roy Ramos - Reporter

HIALEAH, Fla. - A witness to an armed robbery in Hialeah said he is lucky to be alive after the robber tried to make him his getaway driver. 

Hialeah police said a gunman robbed a Shell gas station in the 6400 block of West Fourth Avenue about 3:15 p.m. Dec. 29. Police said he held up an employee at gunpoint and fled on foot with a undisclosed amount of cash.

However, a witness named Phil told Local 10 News the robber initially sought a faster getaway. 

Phil, who only wanted be identified by his first name, said Tuesday that he was looking over some lottery tickets he had just bought when the gunman robbed the store. Phil said he quickly left the store, but the gunman was just steps behind him.

In the parking lot, Phil said the robber then ordered Phil to get into his car.

"His right hand is in his pocket; I am assuming it is a gun," Phil recalled.

However, when the gunman looked away for a brief moment, Phil said he fled to a nearby Family Dollar store and called 911.

"If I would have got into the car that would’ve been a car chase, and I am glad I didn't that would've been a whole different story," Phil said.

The same man struck again about 30 minutes later at a Speedway gas station in the 900 block of East 49th Street in Hialeah, police said. He again held up an employee at gunpoint and fled on foot with an undisclosed amount of cash, police said.

Authorities in Miami-Dade and Broward counties said they believe the man is responsible for a series of robberies across South Florida in recent weeks.

Hialeah police said he robbed a cash advance business in the 1900 block of West 35th Street Friday. The robber pistol-whipped an employee before making off with the cash.

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is assisting local authorities with the investigation and is offering a $10,000 reward for information that leads to the man's arrest.

"Turn him in. Turn him in," Phil said.  "He does not deserve to be out there.  It is not safe."

Anyone with information about the suspect is asked to call the Hialeah Police Department at 305-687-2525 or Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-8477.

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