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Waitress Places Order: 'Freeze, Or I'm Going To Shoot'

LITHIA - The man looked suspicious, constantly looking back while running through a parking lot and clutching a bag to his chest.
Moments later the bank manager appeared, crouching, his head bobbing, looking for someone.
The scene played out near the windows of DaSilva's Coffee House, at 15282 FishHawk Boulevard.
A young waitress decided to take a role, and it wasn't a supporting part.
Learning the fleeing man had robbed Valrico State Bank at the other end of the shopping plaza, the waitress gave chase. When the man tried to circle back to his car, the waitress made a citizen's arrest.
"I heard her say, "Freeze, police. Freeze, or I'm going to shoot,' " said Karen Raga, a co-worker.
She wasn't armed, but it worked.
"He put up his hands, and she's there in a second, has him up against a car, gets his arm locked behind him and gets him on the ground."
The waitress didn't want to talk about it or identify herself. The Hillsborough Sheriff's Office wouldn't identify her because she is a former law enforcement officer.
The waitress wasn't alone. The bank manager and another DaSilva's employee helped corral the robber.
But Raga said the waitress was the star.
"She orchestrated the whole takedown," she said. "You could say she subdued the perp."
The threesome sat on the man until police arrived.
Jeffrey Gordon Merritt, 44, of 9411 Chalet Drive, Apt. 1408, Tampa, was charged with armed robbery. No bail had been set.
Merritt told deputies he also was responsible for two armed bank robberies in Pinellas County, investigators say.
One robbery occurred Sept. 16 at Anderen Bank, 3412 Eastlake Road in Palm Harbor. The other occurred Saturday at Fifth Third Bank, 1703 McMullen Booth Road in Safety Harbor.
Authorities said Merritt entered the bank about 9:10 a.m., demanded money from a teller and fled into the parking lot with an undisclosed amount of cash.
"It was the coolest thing I ever saw," Raga said of his apprehension. "It was just like an action movie. She was like Indiana Jones or any other character you could name. She's definitely my hero."
The waitress was greeted with applause and cheers by customers when she returned to the DaSilva's counter after giving arresting officers a statement.
The waitress, young and slight of build, was not without experience.
Raga said her co-worker was a police officer in Germany and recently relocated to FishHawk Ranch with her family.
"She is so modest. For her it was all in a day's work," Raga said. "But she knew exactly what to do."
"Once she heard the bank was robbed, she was off like a rocket. It was incredible to watch."
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