Mount Dora armed carjacking prompts safety discussions to downtown area

City Council considers lighting study to determine what areas need safety

MOUNT DORA, Fla. – Mount Dora leaders are looking to make safety improvements to the downtown area after a patron was carjacked by an armed suspect last weekend. 

The armed carjacking happened in front of the Magical Meat Boutique last Saturday around 1:30 a.m. Police said the victim got into his car when a suspect armed with a gun yelled at him to get out.

According to the report, the victim grabbed the gun and tried fighting the suspect, but stopped when he saw two more men. The gunman then drove off in the victim's vehicle, stealing his money and cell phone. 

"You never hear of anything like that going down in Mount Dora. It just doesn't happen," resident Joe Daniel said. 

Residents and visitors were shocked to learn of the violent crime. 

"No, not here. I wouldn't think so," visitor Pierrette Whitfield said.

Police Chief John O'Grady says Mount Dora's crime rate is lower than the states, and that the city doesn't have violent robberies like this. He told city council this week the carjacking was a "crime of opportunity."

"It's an isolated incident. We were on top of it," O'Grady said.

Investigators said two suspects are in custody and a third is on the run. 

"That's very surprising for Mount Dora. That's kinda like you expect in a big city or big town," Daniel said.

The carjacking is prompting city leaders to get results and look at how safe downtown is, especially late at night.

During a city council meeting this week, leaders discussed conducting a study to determine which areas need more lights. The city manager added immediate safety solutions, including trimming trees that block lampposts, making sure all the bulbs work and hiring more officers. 

Visitors and residents tell News 6 any change will be an improvement. 

"There's so many people here, there's so much going on, so any improvement would certainly help," Whitfield said. 

City leaders are asking downtown merchants to share their thoughts on any safety changes or improvements that need to be made. They're holding a merchants meeting on Nov.16 starting at 5:30 p.m. at Barrel of Books. 

About the Author: