Leesburg – – –
For the second time within a week, people inside a Lake County fast-food restaurant were forced into a freezer during an armed robbery, police said.
Authorities are comparing notes and evidence to see if the back-to-back robberies are linked.
Leesburg police responded Wednesday to a Burger King along U.S. Highway 441 after a caller reported he and other employees were locked in a freezer.
“We just got robbed,” the employee told a dispatcher. “… One employee got hit by a gun, and he’s bleeding.”
One of the employees told police he had just finished cleaning about 10 p.m.and was about to leave when two men, one wearing a black ski mask and the other wearing a red bandanna, came out of the woods near the restaurant and approached him, an incident report said.
They tried to force him to open a side door that leads behind the counter but when he refused, one of the men hit him with the butt of his revolver, police said.
Two other employees also were still inside.
Police say the suspects took the workers’ Android and iPhone 6 cell phones, worth a total of $900. They also demanded a manager open the restaurant’s safe.
The pair stole another $1,150 in cash before forcing the employees to get in to a freezer, authorities said.
During the altercation, another employee was pistol-whipped. Police Lt. Joe Iozzi said neither were seriously injured.
The incident appears to mirror another robbery in Mount Dora last week.
Customers and employees at a McDonald’s on U.S. Highway 441 were pushed into a freezer and a pregnant employee was forced to open the restaurant’s safe May 18, Mount Dora police said.
The suspects got away with $2,000 and a cell phone, police said.
That same McDonald’s was targeted in February when two men with guns forced employees to give them about $1,500 from a safe.
Anyone with information is asked to call Crimeline at 1-800-423-8477.