HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A man who held two family members – a toddler and a woman – hostage for more than eight hours in a Tampa hotel room surrendered Monday morning after shooting at SWAT team members and trying to set the room on fire, according to deputies.
A spokesperson for the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said a phone call came in around 11:15 Sunday night about a barricaded subject inside a room at the Suburban Extended Stay Hotel on Hillsborough Avenue near Sawyer Road. According to the sheriff’s office, the person who called in also mentioned the man had a firearm.
“This subject was extremely agitated. When I said it was an extremely tense and stressful night, at different points during the night, his emotions got so out of control that he discharged his firearm inside the residence,” said Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister.
Patricia Ababio was one of 60 people staying at the hotel forced to evacuate for their own safety. Ababio says she heard a man and woman arguing.
“They got into an argument last night and then come to find out they shot through the window and everything, like literally we just walked past by, but we couldn’t go back to our room at all,” said Ababio.
Sheriff Chronister said at certain points throughout the overnight situation, the suspect got “so irate and out of control that he discharged his firearm” inside the hotel. He said the man tried to set the room on fire too, saying that “we saw smoke at some point.”
Chronister says his deputies showed remarkable restraint under the circumstances.
“Over an eight and a half hour course, being out here all evening, most of them coming right from WrestleMania and being up for over 24 hours,” Chronister said.
The sheriff identified the man as 53-year-old Victor Hernandez and said he is not from Hillsborough County but is here vacationing with his family. He is believed to be from North Carolina and is now facing two counts for false imprisonment and aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer.
Eventually, the man surrendered and the people he was holding were released unharmed.
Deputies arrested Victor Hernandez, 53. He is now charged with two counts of false imprisonment and one count of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer.