UPDATE: Suspect in USF-Area Sexual Batteries Dead After Gunfight with Police
UPDATED AT 4:50 P.M.
Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee says Charlie Christopher Bates, a suspect in a series of sexual assaults, died at Tampa General Hospital from wounds he received in a gunfight with law enforcement attempting to capture him this afternoon.
At a news conference, Gee said that Bates died at 1:21 p.m. after being shot multiple times by sheriff's deputies and Tampa Police officers. He added that they will have to wait for an autopsy by the medical examiner to determine exactly how many times Bates was hit.
"We could not allow him to go any further," Gee said in a statement on Twitter.
According to Gee, they received information Bates was at an apartment, possibly holding another woman. A deputy saw Bates leave that apartment in what was believed to be a stolen car and began following him.
During a chase that Gee said reached between 80 and 100 MPH, Bates opened fire on law enforcement pursuing him. Video from news helicopters over the scene showed an officer in an unmarked vehicle knock Bates' vehicle off of the road near a Waffle House on U.S. Highway 301, just north of Interstate 4.
More shots were exchanged at that time, with Gee saying easily over a hundred shots may have been fired during the shootout. No members of law enforcement were injured in the exchange.
"No doubt in my mind he would've killed someone else before the day was over," said Gee.
Gee also expressed concern there might be another victim, saying that a woman's cell phone was found with Bates and that woman can't be located. Later that afternoon, the Sheriff's office reported: "We have located the owner of the cell phone that was found at the scene of one of the over night home invasions. This was the phone that was not identified to any victims at any of our scenes which made us consider the cell phone owner could be an unidentified victim of Charlie Bates.
"Detectives have determined the cell phone owner is safe and sound and was not a victim of Bates."
UPDATE AT 1:20 P.M.
Hillsborough County Sheriff's officials say Charlie Christopher Bates, a suspect in a series of sexual assaults, has been arrested on US 301 just north of Interstate I-4 after a car chase and an exchange of gunfire with law enforcement.
Bates has been shot at least once and is reported by Tampa Police to be in critical condition at Tampa General Hospital. No law enforcement personnel were injured.
Bates was spotted driving a stolen car and pursued for several miles before the chase came to an end near a Waffle House on U.S. 301. He reportedly opened fire on law enforcement, who returned fire. Southbound at Harney Road is reportedly closed as a result of the incident.
The Hillsborough County Public Schools in the USF area and New Tampa area have all been taken off modified lockdown. Schools are resuming normal schedules and planning for normal dismissals.
We will have more information on Bates' capture as it becomes available.
ORIGINAL POST AT 12:15 P.M.
Tampa Police and Hillsborough Sheriff's deputies have identified the suspected in a series of sexual assaults and home invasions overnight in several apartment complexes just north of the University of South Florida's Tampa campus.
They're searching for Charlie Christopher Bates, who's described as 24 years old, with tattoos on his neck and arms. He's 5-foot-nine, around 160 to 170 pounds, with shoulder-length dreadlocks he wears in a ponytail. Hillsborough deputies are saying they tracked him to a stretch of woods north of 42nd Street and south of Amberly Drive in Tampa.
Officers say there's a lot of water in the swampy area, and are searching for him with dogs. Hillsborough Sheriff David Gee says he may also be holed up in one of the apartments that dot the area.
"So we're checking all the apartments there, and we have not ruled out the possibility that he's involved in another home invasion, where somebody's being held and has not been able to report it to law enforcement, based on his prior conduct and his conduct last night," Gee said. "He's a very dangerous person, and of course, he'll be treated that way by law enforcement."
Several nearby schools around USF and New Tampa are on modified lockdown. Hillsborough County Public Schools says that means classes are being held, but with added security and no outdoor activities.
The schools that are on modified lockdown are: The Museum of Science and Industry, Bowers Whitley, Pizzo Elementary, USF Patel, Muller Elementary, Witter Elementary, Turner Elementary, Bartels Middle, Pride Elementary, Clark Elementary, Wharton High, Heritage Elementary, Benito Middle, Hunters Green Elementary, Liberty Middle, Freedom High, Chiles Elementary and Tampa Palms Elementary.
Although no shutdowns have been reported at USF, the university did issue a warning on its website, saying people should stay away from the area north of campus, between Fletcher Avenue and Skipper Road and from 42nd to 46th streets.
USF Police say classes are going on as scheduled, but security has been increased around campus. In addition, temporary on-campus housing is being offered to students living in the affected apartment complexes. Students who have been affected or involved in the attacks are also being encouraged to contact the USF Counseling Center or USF's Center for Victim's Advocacy and Violence Prevention.
Bates is a suspect in a home invasion August 9th near Busch Boulevard and Rome Avenue. He allegedly broke into a woman's home through a locked back door and demanded money, her phone and jewelry at gunpoint. Police say he threatened to rape and kill her, but he fled from the scene when the woman began praying. Bates reportedly cut himself breaking into the home and left enough of a blood sample that law enforcement was able to identify his DNA. Police then got a warrant in late August charging Bates with armed home invasion.
He allegedly also broke into a home in the area of 15th and Comanche September 3rd, sexually battering a woman there after pistol whipping her boyfriend.
Bates is also wanted for at least three other home invasions that happened last night in the area north of USF.
Hillsborough County Sheriff's officials say the incidents began around 11 p.m. when Bates allegedly forced his way into an apartment at Cambridge Woods Apartments near 42nd Street north of East Fletcher Avenue. He reportedly bound four men and sexually assaulted four women inside the apartment. Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee says all eight victims are students at USF. Bates told the victims not to call the police for half an hour, which they reportedly did out of fear.
Tampa Police say Bates then confronted a woman outside her apartment at the nearby Eagle's Point Apartments on Bruce B. Downs Boulevard and forced her into her apartment at gunpoint. He was reportedly attempting to sexually assault her when she began praying with him. Bates then fled the scene without assaulting the woman.
From there, Bates reportedly made his way to The Oaks apartment complex, just across 42nd Street from the first incident. He entered an apartment there where a party was being held. He forced 25 people into a bedroom at gunpoint. He fired at least one shot into the floor, but no one was hurt.
After he fled there, he encountered a man who ran to his own apartment. Bates chased him and fired at least three shots at him, hitting the door at least once but missing the man.
Gee says warrants are being issued for Bates, accusing him of 6 counts of armed sexual battery, 8 counts of armed kidnapping and 1 count of armed home invasion.
Bates is believed to be armed and dangerous. Anyone with more information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay anonymous tipline at 1-800-873-8477 (TIPS).