Armored car driver shot in head during robbery at Publix in Altamonte Springs

Police search for robber, getaway driver; Incident 'could be homicide case,' police say

By Sheli Muniz - Reporter

ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. - A Loomis-Fargo armored truck driver is in critical condition after being shot in the head and robbed Thursday afternoon at a Publix in Altamonte Springs, police said.

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[PICS: Cash carrier shot in head at Publix | VIDEO: Watch news conference | Surveillance released ]

The assailants remain on the run after abandoning a getaway car nearby. Police said the incident could become a homicide case.

The worker was shot in the lobby of Publix, which is on State Road 436 at Palm Springs Drive. Fire officials said they received a call about a 25-year-old victim.

According to Altamonte Springs police, the cash carrier was ambushed by a man who fired multiple shots before stealing a bag of money.

"He was alert, conscious and able to talk to investigators to describe exactly what happened, of course. His recollection was very good because we have witnessed and viewed video on CCTV, which is exactly how he described it," Altamonte Springs police spokesperson Lt. Rob Pelton said.

The courier shot was the original driver upon arriving. Police said they are always two-person units, so when one person exits to go get money there is a second person in the truck.

The second person became the driver after the shooting and, per protocol, drove away to where the truck was parked until police arrived, officials said.

"As I got through the second door, that is when I heard the gunshots," said a witness who did not want her name used. "I just got my cart to do some shopping and it just happened so fast."

The witness was seen on the surveillance video. It shows just how close she was to the suspect. She walked by him, parked her cart in front of him while she walked to the scale quickly. When she walked into the store, the guard walked out.

It's not known how much money was stolen. The FBI is assisting in the investigation because a money carrier was involved.

A getaway driver was waiting in a gold Nissan Maxima and the robber and the driver have not been found. A stolen vehicle matching the description of the getaway car was found behind the store at a nearby apartment complex called Royal Arms Condos, police said.

Altamonte Springs police described the shooter as a black man wearing a long-sleeved plaid shirt with an orange or purple hat, possibly a Phoenix Suns baseball cap.

[VIDEO: Witness posts to Instagram, courtesy internationaldigg]

Video from News 6 helicopter Sky 6 showed crime tape across the store's main entrance. K-9 units were also spotted scouring an area near the store.

Three customers were taken to the hospital for cardiac issues after witnessing the shooting, police said.

"It's very frightening because so much of it goes on. The first thing that comes to my mind, oh my goodness, we can't go grocery shopping any more," said the witness.

She told News 6 that employees instructed customers to run to the back of the store and exit through the rear.

Publix released a statement Thursday evening, saying, "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the individual that was injured and his family. We are working closely with law enforcement on this matter."

Publix closed for the evening and will reopen Friday morning.

Earlier this month, a Brinks truck driver was robbed of $160,000 at an ATM in Orlando. Two men were arrested in the robbery, but $55,000 remains missing.

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