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Sunday, March 03, 2024
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A man accused of stealing from Wyndham Garden Gainesville and the UF Kappa Sigma fraternity, as well as stealing a pickup truck and forcing a victim to drive his getaway car at gunpoint, was arrested by Gainesville Police May 6.

Mark Lafrenier, 34, of 3510 NW 20th St., was charged with burglary, theft, auto theft, aggravated assault and possession of a concealed firearm. He is being held in Alachua County Jail with a bond set at $320,000.

Philip Henderson, manager for the Wyndham Garden Gainesville hotel at 2900 SW 13th St., reported on May 1 that the $2,500 back sliding door of room 1114 was smashed and between $350 to $400 worth of items including a TV, coffee maker, ice bucket, pillowcase and iron, were missing. 

Another burglary occurred the next day at the UF Kappa Sigma house, located at 1120 SW Ninth Road. There were eight people in the house at the time.

A video taken by witnesses shows the burglar inside the house walking through all three floors of the building soon after 9:42 a.m., gathering items like mail, food and a change machine containing about $100, the police report read. 

The burglar was filmed by witnesses when he exited the fraternity house at 11:10 a.m. with an estimated $1,000 worth of stolen items, the police report said. An in-depth list will be compiled when the fraternity members who live in the house return to Gainesville.

A GPD officer identified Lafrenier from the videos as he had encountered him in several other cases, the police report read. 

A few days later on May 6, Lafrenier stole a 1998 Dodge pickup truck at 6:30 a.m. According to the report, the victim, Benjamin Dowling, knew Lafrenier and that he was running from law enforcement. 

Three hours later, surveillance at Lafrenier’s house showed him returning in a different vehicle. It was being driven by another victim who didn’t know police were searching for Lafrenier on an active warrant, GPD spokesperson Jorge Campos told The Alligator.

Lafrenier retrieved some items from his home and left with the victim. According to police reports, the victim was driving Lafrenier through the Lucky’s Market parking lot at 1459 NW 23rd Ave. when he told her law enforcement was looking for him. 

As multiple patrol vehicles approached, Lafrenier took a loaded .45-caliber pistol out of his backpack, pointed it at the victim and told her to keep driving and “take them on a high-speed!” the police report stated.

Out of fear, the victim obeyed. When police approached the vehicle. Lafrenier threw the pistol behind the driver’s seat. The victim ran out of the car and told police about the gun, which was later found to have blood on it. 

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The report mentions that Lafrenier’s hands had cuts on them. 

After Lafrenier’s arrest, the owner of a house he was found staying in without permission asked police to remove the items Lafrenier brought in. The owner told police the house was used for storage and no one, aside from Lafrenier, was living in it.

Inside the house, police found the stolen items from Wyndham Garden. Some of them were found inside a cloth bag with the Wyndham Garden hotel logo.  According to the report, Henderson confirmed that the items belonged to room 1114, telling police no other rooms had items stolen recently. 

He also told GPD he had seen Lafrenier around the hotel when his child’s mother was a guest. The police report states the child’s mother wasn’t letting Lafrenier come inside her room because he was “too drugged out.”

GPD is currently investigating Lafrenier’s potential involvement in several other cases, Campos said. 

Contact Sarah Mandile at Follow her on Twitter @sarahmandile.

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