CRIME SPREE COUPLE CAPTURED: TIMELINE OF EVENTS
(AP) — Law enforcement officers have linked Blake Fitzgerald and Brittany Nicole Harper to a spree of abductions and robberies in Missouri, Alabama, Georgia and Florida. Here’s a timeline of their crimes.
The couple was suspected of stealing guns from a house in their hometown, the southwest Missouri city of Joplin. Joplin police Cpl. Chuck Niess said police had hoped to speak with them about the robbery, but “they obviously left the area.”
Early Sunday morning, the pair enters the Microtel Inn and Suites in Tuscaloosa, saying they’d run out of gas and were trying to get to Panama City, Florida, night clerk Kyle Dease told WVUA 23. Moments later, the man pulled a semiautomatic pistol and forced Dease into a car and the three headed toward Birmingham. Fitzgerald and Harper were charged with kidnapping, theft and robbery in that incident, Tuscaloosa police Lt. Kip Hart said.
Later Sunday, the couple tried to rob a McDonald’s manager outside her restaurant in the Birmingham suburb of Hoover, demanding money and her car keys. The manager screamed and the couple fled, Hoover police Capt. Gregg Rector said. Rector said the hotel clerk was still being held in the backseat during that robbery attempt, but was later released unharmed.
About 15 minutes later, a family in nearby Vestavia Hills was eating breakfast when a man entered the home through an open garage door, saying he was having car trouble, police said. He pulled a gun, demanded the family’s SUV and forced the woman to get inside, Vestavia Hills police Lt. Kevin York said. The woman was later released unharmed about 10 miles away.
On Monday night, a gunman held up a young clerk at a Murphy Express station along Interstate 75 in south Georgia, took money from the safe and cigarettes before forcing the clerk into an SUV, where his female accomplice was waiting, authorities said. The couple drove about 15 miles before releasing the clerk unharmed, Perry police Lt. Ken Ezell said.
On Wednesday, the couple was suspected in two additional robberies in the Florida panhandle – in Walnut Hill, Florida; and in Destin, Florida, U.S. Marshal Martin Keely said. In one of those robberies, a man and woman matching the description of Fitzgerald and Harper robbed a Piggly Wiggly grocery store, the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office said. In the other, Fitzgerald and Hughes robbed an Alvin’s Island in Destin, Florida.
The U.S. Marshals announceed they are offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to Fitzgerald and Harper’s arrest.
Authorities caught up with the couple in the Florida Panhandle and a shootout ensued. Fitzgerald was killed and Harper was wounded and taken into custody.