Employee fends off would-be gunman


Published: Friday, January 26, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 26, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.

A hotel clerk thwarted an armed robbery attempt Thursday night when she told the would-be robber, "If you don't get out of here, I'll kick your butt."

Erica Murphy, 38, was working the evening shift at the Econo Lodge, 700 NW 75th St., when a young man came in around 6 p.m. and asked about a guest who was not staying at the hotel and then asked about a room number that doesn't exist at that hotel.

Murphy said the man, whom she described as a young black male, 20-25 years old and 5 feet, 5 inches tall wearing a black windbreaker and a black baseball cap with a white stripe, pulled out a "rusted up gun with all the paint missing on it" and demanded money.

"I didn't even think it would shoot," Murphy said.

After Murphy told the man to leave, she said he put the gun on the counter and started to climb over the counter toward her.

Although police caution crime victims not to fight back against an armed assailant, Murphy said she has training in martial arts and self-defense so she didn't back down. As the robber tried to climb the counter, she started to climb over toward him to throw him out.

Murphy said when she came toward the robber, he picked up his gun and headed toward the door, where he ran into a female hotel guest. Murphy said he tried to grab the guest, but the woman shoved the robber and he took off down the road.

"If I'd have made it over the counter I'd have had him hog-tied with shipping tape," Murphy said with a laugh Thursday night.

Lt. Kevin Oberlin, with the Alachua County Sheriff's Office, said deputies tried to locate the robber, but he added that it is a difficult area to search because there are a lot of neighborhoods along Tower Road.

"We had units right on Tower Road," Oberlin said. "But by the time it got called in we couldn't find the guy."

Murphy said she has worked in the hotel business for about three years and said she was glad for her self-defense training Thursday night.

"I could see it on him that he didn't know what he was doing," she said. "If he had acted like he was serious, he would have had the money. But when I told him to get out, I could see that I had him."

Alice Wallace can be reached at 374-5036 or alice.wallace@ gvillesun.com

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