A Missouri couple on the run from police after an alleged home invasion and abduction are facing additional charges of robbery and kidnapping, stemming from two additional incidents.
People reports that according to a Vestavia Hills police statement, Blake Fitzgerald, 31, and Brittany Harper, 31, both of Joplin, Missouri, reportedly walked into a home in Vestavia Hills, Alabama, last Sunday, via the home’s open garage. Fitzgerald walked upstairs and reportedly told a husband and wife that he was having car trouble, then immediately pulled a gun on them.
— Fugitive Watch (@FugitiveWatch) February 1, 2016
Fitzgerald allegedly forced the wife into her 2010 silver Ford Edge. Harper got in the vehicle and joined them. For reasons unknown, the couple dropped the wife off at the Grandview Emergency Room. She was unharmed.
Al.com reports that along with the home invasion, Fitzgerald and Harper reportedly robbed a McDonalds restaurant in Hoover, robbed the Microtel Inn and Suites in Tuscaloosa, and abducted a 26-year-old hotel clerk. All three crimes occurred within a two-hour span on Sunday.
The first crime happened at 6:30 a.m. at the Microtel Inn and Suites. The couple allegedly cleared the money out of the cash register and forced the hotel clerk into his girlfriend’s blue Volkswagon Jetta at gunpoint, while informing him they were taking him to get gas. Instead, they ended up in Jefferson County.
While Tuscaloosa reviewed security footage of the hotel on Sunday afternoon, they received a call that the clerk was found unharmed in Vestavia Hills. According to Tuscaloosa County Homicide Unit Lt. Kip Hart, the couple also stopped at the Tuscaloosa Home Depot parking lot off Veteran’s Memorial Parkway shortly after they abducted the clerk, where they took items out of an SUV that was reported stolen from Joplin, Missouri.
BREAKING:Vestavia PD ID kidnappers from this morning as Blake Fitzgerald and Brittany Harper from Joplin, MO pic.twitter.com/T7M7yJx5s8
— Jonathan Hardison (@FOX6Hardison) January 31, 2016
Shortly after, the couple reportedly stopped at the Hoover McDonald’s at around 7:45 a.m., where Fitzgerald pulled out a gun on restaurant manager Zora Harris. The following is per Harris.
“He said, ‘Give me the [expletive] car and that’s when he pulled the gun and said, ‘I’m not (expletive) playing with you.’ “
Before Fitzgerald could get any further, Harris threw her keys to an employee, while another employee ran out to help. Fitzgerald got in the Jetta and drove off, but not before Harris was able to get the car tag number.
At the time, Harris had no idea about the Tuscaloosa abduction. The victim was still in the backseat of the car, with a blanket over him, while Fitzgerald attempted the robbery.
The couple headed north after the botched attempt, and stopped at the Montreat condominiums in Vestavia Hills. Connor Grave, a resident of the condominiums, told police that he was leaving to pick up breakfast when a man, the abducted hotel clerk, started frantically running towards him as he was driving.
“He starts coming directly at my car trying to flag me down. I rolled down my window down and he asked if he had [a] cell phone. He said, ‘I was kidnapped in Tuscaloosa and they brought me here, dropped me off.’ “
Within 15 minutes of the McDonald’s robbery, Fitzgerald and Harper ended up at Monte Vista Drive, where they abducted the wife, who was sitting at home with her husband eating breakfast. After dropping her off at the hospital, the couple has continued to evade police.
Authorities state that the victims were “targets of opportunity,” and weren’t singled out during the crimes.
Fitzgerald is facing numerous charges, including first-degree burglary, first-degree kidnapping, and theft of property. Harper is facing charges of first-degree theft of property and first-degree kidnapping.
The couple may still be in the silver Ford Edge that they took from the Vestavia Hills home. The vehicle’s licence plate number is 2720AG7, but authorities warn the public to not approach the vehicle if seen, but instead to call the police immediately.
The U.S. Marshals Service is offering $5,000 each for the capture of Fitzgerald and Harper, for a total of $10,000 if both are caught. Anyone with any information should call the Vestavia Hills police at 205-978-0140 or call 911.
[Photo by the Vestavia Hills Police Department]