Caymanian woman charged in Tampa robbery

Two deputies injured, accomplice shot by cops

A Caymanian woman was involved in a dramatic armed robbery in Florida that ended with her accomplice being shot by police following a chaotic car chase during which two deputies were injured. 

Bryna McLaughlin, 30, originally from Grand Cayman, has been charged with armed robbery and armed kidnapping following the raid on a Radio Shack store in Tampa. 

Her accomplice, Jovanny Pena, who allegedly injured two sheriff’s deputies with the getaway vehicle, has also been charged with the attempted murder of both officers. 

Pena is said to have driven the car directly at the deputies before being shot in the chest after the couple were cornered at an Interstate exit. His condition was described as stable on Tuesday. 

The mayhem started as police pursued the pair following reports of an armed robbery at the Sun City retail center on May 28. 

According to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department, Pena walked in to the Radio Shack store wearing a stocking mask over his head at around 6 p.m. McLaughlin, also wearing a mask, waited outside in the driver’s seat of a gold colored Jeep Liberty. 

Pena held customers and staff at gunpoint before escaping with a plastic bag filled with 90 cellphones, taking over at the wheel as the couple were pursued by police along Interstate-95 before being cornered at exit 254, the sheriff’s office said. The deputies exited their vehicles with guns raised, at which point Pena is said to have rammed his Jeep into one of the patrol cars, knocking Deputy Richard Johnson to the ground.  

According the police report, Deputy Buddy Leisch fired at Pena in an unsuccessful attempt to stop him driving through the barrier of cars toward a third officer, Deputy Domingo Gonzalez. 

Gonzalez fired his gun and dove out of the way, but he was hit in the leg as the Jeep barreled into oncoming traffic, hitting two other vehicles before coming to a stop. 

Pena received at least one gunshot wound to the chest during the shootout. One of the deputies suffered a suspected broken shoulder. 

McLaughlin was not injured but was taken to hospital with what police described as an “unrelated medical issue.” 

Pena has been charged with attempted murder and aggravated battery on an officer, along with multiple counts of armed robbery, kidnapping and false imprisonment. McLaughlin faces charges of armed robbery, kidnapping and false imprisonment. 

Her booking sheet lists the Cayman Islands as her place of birth and officers said she had a tattoo of the words “Grand Cayman” on her body.  

The car chase led to part of the northbound I-75 highway being closed to traffic for around four hours. 

Bryna-McLaughlin

Bryna McLaughlin
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