Victims tied up, robbed in home invasion

Ocoee police search for 3 assailants

By Jason Olson - Executive Producer

OCOEE, Fla. - Three people were tied up by masked gunmen during an Ocoee home invasion, and authorities on Thursday are searching for three of the four culprits.

One man was arrested in the home invasion, which occurred at a home on Hopewell Drive in the Forest Brooke East Subdivision just after 11 p.m. Wednesday.

According to the Ocoee Police Department, four masked gunmen rang the door and when a resident answered, the men forced their way inside and tied up three victims.  Police said the gunmen stole electronics and jewelry before fleeing in a red Chevrolet.

Ocoee police noticed a red 2008 Chevy Impala heading away from the home and driving erratically.  Investigators said the car headed north in the southbound lanes of State Road 429 toward Apopka, then crashed as the car crossed the median near the overpass at McCormick Road.

Police said three of the men fled on foot after the crash.  The driver, 27-year-old Bennie Hardwick, who is a convicted sex offender, was taken into custody. 

Investigators said several items from the home invasion were found on him and inside the car.  Hardwick was injured in the crash, but his condition is not known.

Hardwick was charged with home invasion robbery with a firearm. Police said they found several of the stolen electronics on Hardwick. FDLE had an arrest warrant out for sex offenses and is a registered sex offender. He has previously been convicted of other crimes twice.

Neighbors said they are worried the other culprits will strike again.

"It's sad and you would think in a neighborhood like this with a gated community things like this wouldn't happen," said neighbor Dave Vendor.

Contact police if you have any information on the three other culprits.

Copyright 2012 by All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.