CRIMEBEATMichael Pinkelton Bk #15027667

By Tamas Mondovics

Brandon area residents as well as Hillsborough County Sheriff’s deputies are feeling a whole lot better following the arrests of two suspects who made headlines by firing their weapons while robbing convenience stores last month.

According HCSO detectives, Michael Dean Pinkelton, 18, of Brandon and Joseph Miguel Costanzo, 19, of Tampa were involved in at least two business robberies including a Circle K and a 7-Eleven in Brandon.

What concerned deputies most was the fact that the two suspects were not shy of using their weapons during both the robberies, making each incident very dangerous and potentially fatal.

Investigators said that on Tuesday, July 14 at 12:06 a.m., two men, now identified as Pinkelton and Costanzo, entered the 7-Eleven located at 1020 S. Kings Ave. in Brandon. While one of the suspects pointed a gun at the clerk, demanded money and then fired one round into the display behind him with a .45 caliber handgun, the second suspect stood at the front door as a lookout, while pointing a handgun at the clerk. The suspects obtained both cash drawers and fled the scene on foot.

HCSO also reported that in a similar manner only a day later on Wednesday, July 15 at 12:58 a.m., two unknown suspects—later identified as Pinkelton and Costanzo—entered the Circle K located at 202 W. Brandon Blvd. in Brandon.

One suspect was armed with a black .380 caliber semi-automatic handgun and the second suspect was armed with a knife. The suspect armed with the handgun demanded money from the register and shot a round into the cigarette display case, after which he removed the cash drawer and an unknown amount of money and placed it inside of a large black Nike gear bag.

Deputies said that while grabbing the money off the counter the suspect accidentally discharged the firearm a second time striking a display case on the counter next to the register. Both men fled the store on foot eastbound toward the rear of the Burger King located at 114 W. Brandon Blvd.

HCSO Detectives got busy and, within 72 hours following the robberies, Pinkelton was arrested. A warrant was also issued for Costanzo, who was believed to be armed with a .380 caliber and possibly a .45 caliber semi-automatic handgun.

On Thursday, July 23, HCSO got a break as Costanzo turned himself into the Orient Road Jail.

“Sheriff David Gee’s number one priority is the elimination of violent crime in Hillsborough County,” said HCSO Public Information Officer, Larry McKinnon. “Sheriff Gee pledges to the citizens of Hillsborough County that HCSO will do what is necessary and go wherever is needed to combat violent crime and capture those offenders who seek to ruin the quality of life for others.”

There was no doubt the two dangerous suspects had to be caught and taken off the streets. Thanks to local law enforcement; another job well done.

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