TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Tampa Police Department is looking for a man accused of kidnapping and raping a DoorDash driver.
Police said a woman in her early 20s was making a DoorDash delivery to the Residence Inn on West Boy Scout Boulevard around 11 p.m. Tuesday when she was approached by a man armed with a gun. Investigators said the man then forced her back into her car.
Officers said the woman had AirPods in her ears and was talking on the phone with her girlfriend, who quickly realized that a robbery was occurring. The victim’s family called the police and officers were dispatched to the hotel.
Investigators said the man forced the woman at gunpoint to drive to the Belara Lakes Apartments on North Waterford Avenue, where he then raped her.
Police said the victim’s family had been tracking the woman’s phone and arrived at the apartment complex. They were able to rescue the woman from her car. The suspect then started firing multiple shots at them, with one shot hitting a family member of the victim’s girlfriend. He then fled the scene.
Both victims were taken to a nearby hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Officers said the suspect is described as a Black male in his late 20s to early 30s. He’s approximately 6 feet, 2 inches tall with a thin build and facial hair. He was wearing a blue, long-sleeved shirt or hoodie and black pants.
“It is clear this suspect has no regard for human life,” said Interim Chief Lee Bercaw. “Detectives are actively gathering evidence in an effort to quickly identify and apprehend him. I am urging anyone who may have seen or heard something nearby to please call us with those details, no matter how minimal they may seem to be. It could be the information we need to arrest this criminal before he’s able to hurt another member of our community.”
Sgt. Andrea Hughes said the attack was a crime of opportunity.
Officers released a composite sketch of the suspect and are asking the community to take a good look at the image.
“As of now, we asking the community to look around for video, and we’re asking the community’s help in identifying the suspect,” Hughes said.
DoorDash issued a statement saying they were disturbed by the crime and were working with Tampa police to find the man responsible.
“We are appalled by this heinous and abhorrent crime. No one should ever have to endure something as horrific as this and we’re here to support the Dasher in any way we can. We’ve reached out to the Tampa Police Department to assist their investigation and we hope the perpetrator is brought to justice.”DoorDash spokesperson Julian Crowley
Anyone with information is asked to call the police at 813-231-6130 or share a tip via Tip411.
“This subject is very dangerous,” Hughes said. “This is a very heinous crime.”
Those who wish to remain anonymous and be eligible for a cash reward can contact Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay by calling 1-800-873-TIPS.
Tampa police released a video of a robbery suspect who they say threw a woman to the ground, punched her then stole her backpack.
That crime happened the morning after the kidnapping at the same apartment complex the gunman took the DoorDash driver to.
Tampa police say its unclear at this time if these two crimes are connected.
Sgt. Hughes advised everyone to share their location with a family member, but that’s not all you can do to protect yourself.
We caught up with Marine veteran Brian Anderson-Needham who now owns Weapon Brand, a self-defense training company.
“My biggest advice would be trust in what you see,” he said. “Trust in what you feel.”
“That little bit of money you’re going to make from that transaction isn’t worth your life,” he continued.
One of the courses Anderson-Needham offers is designed specifically for people who do things like Uber and DoorDash.
“I feel like a lot of women could see a large man and think, ‘There’s no way I’m getting out of this.’ What’s your message to them?,” asked 8 On Your Side reporter Nicole Rogers.
“There is,” he said. “Learning that you have to those vital areas and with every bit of force, every bit of that small amount of violence that you could just build up–that’s going to help save your life.”