Charlie Bates
Charlie Bates

By Matt Wiley

A fugitive wanted for violent sexual batteries on multiple women, as well as several armed home invasions during the early morning hours of September 6, is dead following a 13-hour manhunt throughout the Tampa Palms area, a high-speed chase through Temple Terrace and a final, desperate shootout with local law enforcement authorities.

Choppers buzzed overhead in the southern section of Tampa Palms and over the University of South Florida (USF) area, as law enforcement officials searched the wooded, conservation areas for 24-year-old Charlie Christopher Bates, a dangerous fugitive facing six counts of armed sexual battery, eight counts of armed kidnapping and one count of armed home invasion, with more charges possible, if the suspect weren’t already dead.

New Tampa schools were kept on modified lockdown throughout the day, while “scores” of authorities with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) and Tampa Police Department (TPD) descended upon the southern New Tampa area to locate Bates, a tattooed and dreadlocked man, who had eluded them overnight since his crime spree began around 11 p.m. on September 5.

According to HCSO sheriff David Gee and TPD chief Jane Castor — both of whom spoke at a morning press conference in the parking lot of the Acropolis Taverna-anchored Oak Ramble plaza (which served as the enforcement authorities’ command post during the search), Bates entered an apartment inside the Cambridge Woods student rental complex, located on N. 42nd St., where eight USF students were watching a football game. Once inside, Bates, who was armed with a gun, bound the four men with duct tape and sexually battered the four women, before fleeing on foot. Two of the women went to Florida Hospital Tampa on Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd., where hospital staffers alerted HCSO about the incident.

Gee says that Bates then entered another nearby residence in the Eagle’s Point at Tampa Palms apartment complex, located on N. 46th St. Inside, he ordered the lone woman to take off her clothes and give him a kiss. When she complied and began to pray for him out loud, he apologized and prayed with her. She ripped pages from a Bible to give to him before he left, after they spoke for more than 20 minutes, HCSO says.

After leaving that apartment, Gee says that Bates then went to the Oaks apartment complex, also located on N. 42nd St., and entered a residence where another party was going on involving about 25 people. Using his firearm, Bates forced everyone into a bedroom, before fleeing again on foot. HCSO reports that Bates also shot at a man in the parking lot, although that man was unharmed.

“(Bates) fired shots inside that residence,” Gee explained during the morning press conference. “Deputies were already on scene at the other (home invasion) and heard the shots. They gave chase and we (ended up) looking for that subject all morning long.”

Deputies searched through the night and into the morning for Bates using choppers, dogs and a heavy law enforcement presence throughout the morning, with authorities positioned at several intersections, under the bridge at Cypress Creek on BBD (south of Amberly Dr.) and at nearby apartment complexes, monitoring and checking the trunks of cars exiting each complex.

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Bates was able to get into the apartment of another woman, who Gee said was someone Bates might have known at one time inside the Pointe at South Florida apartment complex (located on E. 138th Ave.), where the fugitive shaved his head and left in the woman’s car. Authorities were alerted that he had taken the vehicle and were able to locate Bates around 1 p.m. on E. Fowler Ave. at Gillette Ave.

It didn’t take long for Bates to realize that he was being followed, Sheriff Gee said. HCSO deputies, TPD officers, Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) troopers and U.S. Marshalls chased Bates through Temple Terrace to Temple Terrace Hwy. and onto U.S. 301, as Bates’ vehicle reached speeds up to 100 mph at some points, HCSO reports.

Gee explains that Bates fired at his pursuers through the rear windshield of his vehicle and out the driver’s window.

Shortly before 1 p.m., authorities caused Bates to lose control of his car just south of Sligh Ave. and come to a stop on the westbound shoulder of U.S. 301, in front of a Waffle House restaurant. He continued to fire at authorities and was struck several times, before being taken into custody. Gee says that Bates died at 1:21 p.m. Although more than 100 shots were fired, no law enforcement officials were hurt.

“The law enforcement officers that were here today did an outstanding job of quickly identifying this man, who would have, there’s no doubt in my mind, killed someone, if he hasn’t already,” Gee said at a news conference following Bates’ death.

The suspect’s identity was determined thanks to information gathered from similar cases that TPD has handled over the past several months. Bates has been tied to an August 9 armed home robbery near W. Busch Blvd. and Rome Ave., in which he broke in through the back window of a home, leaving blood on the scene. He demanded that the lone woman inside disrobe, but she began to pray. At that point, similar to the Eagle’s Point incident, Bates fled the residence. He left blood at the scene and was identified on August 30, HCSO says. A warrant had been issued for his arrest.

More recently, on September 3, HCSO reports that Bates entered a home through an unlocked back door and woke a sleeping couple at gunpoint, pistol-whipped the boyfriend and sexually battered the female before fleeing.


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