'Gentleman' gunman strikes in Bradenton Beach
As polite as a man with a gun can possibly be, two couples out for an evening stroll reported an encounter with a "gentle-speaking" gunman who took their money and stealthly disappeared on foot.
Bradenton Beach police were alerted of an armed robber who approached two couples and demanded money while they were out walking Friday, Feb. 17.
The first couple was approached just before 10 p.m. in the 300 block of Gulf Drive South.
Ross Hodel, 62, a visitor from Illinois and his female friend, noticed a man walking nearby as they left their condo with a group of friends. According to Hodel, the suspect approached the pair and stated, "I’m sorry to bother you, I don’t want no one to get hurt. I got a gun. I want your cash and your jewelry. I don’t want your wallet."
Hodel told police that the man brandished what appeared to be a black semi-automatic firearm. Hodel gave the man $40 in cash, and his friend gave the robber $4. The robber replied, "Sorry to bother you, but I’m in a bit of a bad spot," and walked away.
He was seen walking south along Gulf Drive and then eastbound onto Fifth Street South.
Bradenton Beach Officer Roy Joslin arrived on the scene of the first robbery and brought in backups from Holmes Beach and Longboat Key police departments and the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office to assist in searching the immediate area for the suspect.
While some officers were setting up the perimeter, an officer from Longboat Key was approached by another couple stating they had just been robbed at gunpoint.
Brad and Sheryl Schleif told the officer they were walking on Fifth Street South, when they were approached from behind by a man who stated, "Folks, can I talk to you? I don’t want to hurt you."
According to the report, he then brandished a black semi-automatic and began to chamber the firearm while standing in front of the couple. He asked them for money and Schleif asked the robber how much he needed.
The suspect replied "$100."
Schleif gave him $5 and the suspect replied, "I’m glad I didn’t have to hurt you" and walked away.
Shleif’s wife then asked the gunman where he was going, to which he replied, "I’m not telling you."
He was last seen walking westbound on Fifth Street South and then north on Gulf Drive.
Both couples describe the suspect as a white male, 19-23 years old, 5 feet, 8 or 9 inches tall, approximately 150 pounds, with light colored, short- to medium-length straight hair.
The suspect was clean shaven, "polite speaking," and dressed in a white, fleece-type hooded sweatshirt with "Nike" written on it. The suspect kept the hood pulled over his head during the robberies.
Bradenton Beach Police Detective Lenard Diaz said that anyone with information should call him at 778-6311.