Crime

A restaurant is held up with a garden hoe. The workers got even

A diner employee hurled this pink chair at the robber as he pedaled past on his bicycle.
A diner employee hurled this pink chair at the robber as he pedaled past on his bicycle. Keynoter

A homeless Key West man robbed a local diner with a garden hoe and a pink sweatshirt tied around his face, police said.

But he didn’t get very far after employees fought back.

Robert Paul Pryor, 62, who left state prison last June after serving time for burglary, was arrested Jan. 13 on suspicion of robbery with a weapon, battery and possession of marijuana, the synthetic drug Spice and a pipe with crack cocaine residue.

Police caught Pryor two blocks away from the crime scene after the store owner chased him on his scooter trying to side-swipe the robber — wiping out after Pryor kicked him — and another employee hit him with a pink diner chair as he pedaled past her on his bicycle.

Pryor entered the Sunshine Grill, 1110 White St., about 2:50 a.m. Jan. 13, demanding cash from the register. When an employee said she couldn’t open it, he began trying to pry it open with a garden tool, according to the police report.

But when it wouldn’t give, Pryor “ripped the register off the counter, smashing the computer,” and ran out the door, police said.

Christopher Itrato, 46, the diner’s owner, went after Pryor on his moped, along with employee Gabrielle Keen, 32. After Itrato crashed, Keen continued to follow Pryor on scooter and then on foot. She grabbed him but said she let go when he acted like he was going to fight her.

At some point during the chase, Jessica Marquez, 29, spotted Pryor passing by the diner’s front door on his bike and she threw a pink chair at him. The chair strike caused money to fly out, she said.

During his failed getaway, Pryor dropped cash and rolls of change, and one employee said she watched him in a nearby lot trying to rip open the register and he was able to get some cash out of it. Police said $1,000 was in the register.

Pryor was taken to the county jail on Stock Island, where deputies said they found two marijuana cigarettes and a colorful substance that tested positive for the synthetic marijuana called Spice. Tuesday, Pryor remained locked up on $56,000 bond.

He has prior convictions for burglary, in 2005, 2007 and 2015, and also for marijuana possession and resisting arrest, and has spent time in prison three separate times between 2007 and June 2016.

Pryor’s last bid was May 20, 2015, to June 17, 2016, on a conviction for a burglary committed in 2014. Upon release, he gave the state corrections department a home address of 2001 Airport Road in Naples.

Itrato recovered the register, some cash and the hoe.

Gwen Filosa: @KeyWestGwen

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