The suspect in a series of sexual attacks and home invasions near the University of South Florida's Tampa campus has died following a shootout with deputies.
Charlie Bates, 24, died shortly after 1 p.m., a short while after he exchanged gunfire with deputies on U.S. 301, just north of I-4. Officials said he was shot multiple times.
Deputies were searching for Bates in connection with a crime spree that started late Thursday night, causing schools to go on modified lockdown and USF officials to issue an alert.
The search for him continued until shortly after noon Friday, when Sheriff David Gee said the department received information that Bates was an an apartment where he was possibly holding another woman hostage.
When deputies arrived at the apartment, they saw Bates leave the apartment and drive away, Gee said. At some point, Bates realized deputies were following him, so he began firing gunshots at them.
"He was firing through his rear windshield and out his driver's door," Gee said.
The gunfire continued even as Bates lost control of the vehicle and spun across the road.
No law enforcement officers were injured in the shooting, as they had ballistic shields to protect them from the bullets, Gee said.
"No doubt in my mind he would've killed someone else before the day was over," said Gee.
The suspect was going anywhere from 80-100 mph during the chase, officials say. Gee said he's not sure how many shots were fired during the shootout but guessed it could easily exceed 100.
Earlier, Gee said they were looking for a woman who may be a possible victim because of a cell phone they had recovered, explaining that Bates made a reference during the crime spree that indicated he may have killed someone.
But Gee said they later located the phone's owner and she is safe and sound and was not a victim.
Stepfather said Bates 'wanted to die'
During an interview with Garfield Williams, Bates' stepfather, he said that his stepson 'wanted to die.'
“He’s tried suicide twice and like he posted on his Facebook, he was gonna go out in a blaze,” said Williams. "He was gonna try suicide by cop.”
Williams said Bates called around 7:30 p.m. yesterday after they were informed by U.S. marshalls of a warrant for his arrest.
“We had prepared ourselves for what was gonna happen, he wasn’t gonna make it home alive.”
During the call, Williams said that Bates told them he 'wasn’t gonna go to prison' and he loved them.
“When he said loved us and he was sorry we basically knew what he was gonna do. We didn’t know he was gonna take it to that level he took it, but there’s nothing we could do to stop it," said Williams.
Despite allegations, Williams doesn't believe his stepson sexually assaulted anyone.
“I don’t really think he raped anybody...He wasn’t that kind of child," said Williams. “He’s not a monster."
Family members said they are waiting to get Bates' body to start planning the funeral
“It’s devastating. It’s totally devastating.”
Victims of crime-spree describe events
Victims said during a birthday party inside a home at the Oaks Condominiums in Tampa things suddenly took a violent turn.
"All of the sudden this guy just runs in, he comes in through the door, he points a gun at us and asks us to go inside the bedroom," said one of the victims Sharad Rasdogi.
Authorities said Bates held at least 15 of the guests in the bedroom at gunpoint.
Another victim who prefers to not be named, said that when Bates found out someone was calling 911, he held a gun to her head and threatened to kill her if she didn't tell him who made the call.
"I kept telling him ‘I don't know’ and he kept asking me repeatedly and at that point I didn't want to name the person, so I just said it was somebody behind me,” she said.
Victims said Bates got angry and fired at least one round into the carpet, narrowly missing people standing nearby.
"I think it was kind of a warning shot. He didn't want to fire at us so he fired it on the carpet but we all got scared that he could kill us," said Rasdogi.
They said Bates demanded money, collected $80 and after terrorizing them for about a half-hour, he finally left.
Investigators say he then ran into another man outside the party and started chasing him.
The man managed to get back inside his apartment, slamming the door just as Bates started shooting at him.
"Those guys just went inside the closet and hid themselves. They were really scared," one of the victims said.
The victims say they feel lucky to have escaped with their lives.
“I apologize to them (the victims) for what he did, but like I said he did it – in his mind he did it to achieve what he wanted (to get shot by a cop),” said Bates' stepfather Garfield Williams during an interview on Friday afternoon.
Events leading up to chase, shootout
The string of events started at 11 p.m. in an apartment in the Cambridge Wood Apartments on Monterey Pines Drive. Investigators said Bates tied up four men in the apartment with duct tape, then sexually battered four women.
Bates then left the apartment and went into a second home in the Eagle Point Apartments, located on N. 46th Street in Tampa, deputies said. Bates, who had a gun, forced the woman who was sitting on her porch inside the house, then he ordered her to take off her clothes and forced her to kiss him.
Deputies said the woman began to recite Bible verses and prayed for Bates, and that Bates' demeanor changed. He apologized and gave her a shirt to put on, then they prayed together. He fled the apartment after she tore out pages from the Bible and gave them to him. The woman then called 911.
Bates then made his way to the Oaks Condominiums on Winding Moss Trail, which is directly across 42nd Street from the original incident at the Cambridge Woods Apartment.
Deputies said Bates went into a home, where about 25 people were having a party, then forced them all into a bedroom and fired at least one round into the carpet before leaving.
Then Bates encountered a man as he was leaving the house and began chasing the man. The man ran into his apartment and closed the door, but not before Bates fired at least three gunshots at him. The man was not injured.
Deputies and Tampa police officers began searching the area, stopping vehicles and speaking to pedestrians. They also knocked on doors in several apartment complexes in the area. Several schools were placed on modified lockdown, which was lifted after Bates was taken into custody.
Bates suspected in two other violent crimes
Authorities said Bates is a suspect in at least two other crimes.
On Wednesday, Bates allegedly broke into a house through an unlocked back door and woke the sleeping couple at gunpoint. Bates is accused of pistol-whipping the man, then sexually battering the woman before fleeing the scene.
Police said Bates threatened to kill them if they called the police, which is why the couple did not report the crime until Friday.
He is also suspected in a home invasion on Aug. 9. Police said he broke into a home near Busch Boulevard and Rome Avenue, then demanded money and the woman's phone and jewelry at gunpoint. Bates reportedly threatened to sexually batter and kill the woman.
Police said the woman began praying, and Bates fled from the scene.
While breaking into the home, Bates evidently cut himself and left blood at the scene. Police said the DNA left behind allowed investigators to identify him on Aug. 30. A warrant was issued for his arrest on one count of armed home invasion/robbery.
In March, Bates was previously arrested in Lakeland on charges of concealed weapons, marijuana possession and drug paraphernalia.