New information emerges on attack on MacDill soldier
TAMPA - New details are emerging about the beating and robbery of a soldier as Tampa police continue to search for two more suspects. Officers on Friday arrested two suspects -- Robinson High School student Geroshe Lewis, 18; and Lerome Howard, 18 – but they're not being cooperative. "We are basically nowhere with the other two without the public's help," said District 1 shift commander Lt. Mary O'Connor. "Their cooperation is what we would call 'limited.' " Lewis and Howard have been charged with aggravated battery and robbery.Police said 24-year-old Sgt. Johnny Aparicio was walking on Iowa Avenue at about 3:30 a.m. Sunday when a group of men approached. "They approached him and asked him for a dollar," O'Connor said. "He was reaching in his wallet to give them a dollar and that's when they attacked him." The men jumped him and began punching and kicking him, then took his cell phone and wallet and ran down Renellie Drive. Aparicio, who is assigned to U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base, was able to walk to a nearby house and police were called. He has a broken nose and his tooth was knocked out, a police report states. Police said a video of the incident received from a nearby homeowner made the case easier to solve. They also said one of the suspects told friends about the incident, and that information reached investigators. Aparicio's neighbors who've seen the video were shocked at the attack. "It blows my mind," Rachel Sawyer said. "What's this world coming to?" "I mean ... it's not like they hit him a couple times and then ran off. I mean - they were beating the crap out of this man." Police shared her reaction to the attack video. O'Connor called it "one of the more violent videos I've ever witnessed." "We in law enforcement can never get desensitized to something as vicious as this, " she said, "just as much as it shocks the conscience of the public watching it. It shocks us as well and it motivates us very much to find these people." "We don't need these people roaming our streets. We have to protect the citizens of Tampa and with guys like this out there ... we have to get them off the street as quickly as possible." The reward for the arrest of his attackers has grown to more than $16,000. Police said they have received many tips directly and through the Crime Stoppers telephone line, including tips from out of state and offers to donate more reward money. Howard has been released from Hillsborough County jail on $15,000 bail, while Lewis is being held on $50,000 bail, according to records.
News Channel 8 reporter Josh Greene contributed to this report.