Police say masked robbers storm store

- It was sheer terror for a couple of managers at a Central Florida retail store on Monday night.

“We got on scene, and two clerks were found bound by duct tape on their hands and their feet,” said Lauren Lettelier, with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office.

The two female victims told deputies just before closing time, two masked robbers forced them back into the store  at gunpoint and threatened to kill them.  It happened around 10:30 p.m. at the Dollar General near Micanopy.

“They made death threats repeatedly to the clerks in the store,” Lettelier said.

The two managers told deputies the suspects demanded they fill a duffel bag with cash and to empty the safe. A short time later, both women said they were forced into a stockroom, their hands and feet bound and one of their cell phones taken away. The whole time, they said they feared they would be shot and killed.

“They took one of the clerk’s cell phones from them so they could not call 911.”

Those suspects ran out the back door, said deputies, but one didn’t get far.  About 300 yards away, police found 19-year-old Traquail Fort naked, with vomit on himself in a car. 

“The clothes were all in the vehicle,”  Lettelier  explained. “The camouflage masks that one of the robbers wore was outside the vehicle.”

Fort is facing charges in connection with this robbery.  The Sheriff’s Office said this is the sixth Dollar General robbery in recent weeks, and the fourteenth business robbery since September 1.  It’s an uptick in how often robberies happened lately.

Hours after this latest robbery, deputies were at the scene combing through evidence and looking at surveillance video.  The big  question: are these robberies connected?

Lettelier said, “We’re looking to see if this is something that is an isolated incident or of it’s connected to any of the other robberies that we’ve had in Marion County.”

The Sheriff’s Office is doubling down and working to  crack these cases.  

Lettelier said, “Patrols have been increased in these areas that we’ve had these incidents.”

Deputies said Fort has several other felonies. Fort is in jail on no bond.

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