Second suspect in Brooksville Dollar General robbery charged

By Leah Masuda and Sara Belsole, Team Coverage
Last Updated: Wednesday, December 23, 2015, 5:17 PM EST

The second suspect in Tuesday's armed robbery of a Brooksville Dollar General has been taken into custody without incident, according to the Hernando County Sheriff's Office.

Deputies said Derek Stephen Kelley, 27, was apprehended earlier this morning in the area of Rackley Road and Saturn Road in Brooksville.

"Fortunately he was still in the same area," Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis said. "He had not, as far as we know, interacted with any citizens."

Kelly is currently charged with principal to armed robbery with a firearm, which is a felony. He is being held without bond at the Hernando County Detention Facility.

"He pretty much knew that his time was up and he was tired from hiding and being on the run for the night," Niehuis said.

Officials say Kelly and 29-year-old Michael U. Hilber robbed the Dollar General off Sherman Hills Boulevard shortly after 12 p.m. Tuesday.

Witnesses saw the robbery happen and followed the suspects while calling 911, deputies said. The witnesses followed the suspects to the area of Saturn and Endsley roads, where they bailed.

Two units went on scene with K-9 units and found Hilber in a field off Saturn Road. That's when officials say the deputy shot him and he died at the scene.

No deputies were injured.

Nienhuis added the two are possible suspects in other robberies stretching all the way up to New England, including the armed robbery of a Sarasota Subway restaurant.

The sheriff also applauded the efforts of his deputies, who had to deal with multiple scenes Tuesday after the robbery and suspect search. He said crime analysis is being conducted on this and other robberies to see if the two were involved.

"People in south central Hernando County can rest a little easier right now," Nienhuis said.

The deputies involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave, routine in any law enforcement officer-involved shooting. The sheriff's says that law enforcement in New Hampshire tried to arrest the two suspects, but they got away. He also said drugs could be involved in the crime spree.

Bay News 9 spoke exclusively with one of the men who tried to stop the two robbery suspects.

“When I got to the counter the lady had just been robbed, so I dropped my basket, headed out the door, and another guy went out also,” said Reggie Book, pictured above. “The two of us took off with our vehicles.”

Book says he followed the two men and pulled in front of them when they got to I-75. Book says he got out and opened their truck door and grabbed the steering wheel. They managed to squeeze the truck, with book still holding on, through the space.

“They forced the truck through that 30-inch space,” said Book. 

“He kept beating me to let go and I wouldn’t let go of the steering wheel,” he added.

He says the driver continued on.

“I stayed with him for 300 feet, my feet out dragging and hanging onto the steering wheel.”

Finally Book let go and fortunately he’s OK minus some cuts and bruises and the damage to his car. When we asked Book why he did it, he answered, “I don’t know, I hate thieves, I hate outlaws.”

After what had happened, Book says he probably wouldn’t do it again.