A search for a masked gunman who robbed a Chevron gas station on West University Avenue ended Friday night after Gainesville Police said officers couldn’t find him.
The suspect, who was described by police as a black man wearing a blue hoodie and toting a semi-automatic weapon, walked into the gas station at about 9:10 p.m. and demanded money from the gas station’s attendant, GPD Lt. Jaret Weiland said.
The gas station is located at the corner of Northwest 34th Street and West University Avenue, across the street from Westgate Plaza.
As the attendant gave the gunman money from a cash register, she pressed a panic button to alert police.
When officers arrived at the scene, the suspect was gone. He fled northeast from the gas station, Weiland said.
Police soon established a perimeter, and police dogs picked up on the man’s scent.
At about 9:46 p.m., UF students were notified via an emailed UF alert, which was also posted on UF’s Twitter account, that the gunman was in the area and that students should remain indoors until further notice.
Once the dogs lost the suspect’s scent, the search slowed to a crawl. Weiland said the gas station was a planned target, and that the suspect posed little threat to others.
“It fizzled out eventually,” he said. “At this point, we feel that he has probably left the area.”
At 10:19 p.m., a final alert notified students the suspect hadn't been found but that it was safe to return to the area, prompting skepticism from some.
“sweet. I live a stones throw from there and he’s on the loose,” one Twitter user commented.
Another user, UF professor Clay Calvert, wrote: “UF favorite phrase? #SuspectNotLocated . . .”
Weiland said the man might have left by car.
As of press time, the amount of money taken from the gas station is unknown, Weiland said.