'This is for real': Robber who showed bullets to his victims, engaged cops in highway shootout pleads guilty

‘This is for real’: Robber who showed bullets to his victims, engaged cops in highway shootout pleads guilty

(As originally published, Wed, November 1st 2023, 4:23 PM EDT)

TAMPA, Fla. (TND) — A man involved in a string of armed robberies and a violent arrest many people remember well has pleaded guilty to multiple charges and will be spending decades in federal prison.

For five days in early 2022, Francisco Cabrera robbed two stores and a gas station in central Florida, holding victims at gunpoint.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s office, he even removed the magazine from his pistol, showed the bullets to his victims, and told them “this is for real” or “give me the money or I will shoot you.”

The feds said he even returned to the gas station he robbed, and carjacked a truck at gunpoint. Then, he showed his gun to others who wanted to stop him and help the victim.

Hours later, federal and local authorities chased him onto Interstate 4. They reported him sticking his hand out the window holding a gun, pointing it at officers, and firing multiple shots.

Then, they said Cabrera raced on the highway at speeds of over 100 mph, weaving in and out of traffic.

Finally, Cabrera lost control and crashed into a median, nearly causing a head-on crash with oncoming traffic, but he wasn’t done. He fired more shots and struck law enforcement vehicles.

'This is for real': Robber who showed bullets to his victims, engaged cops in highway shootout pleads guilty
Francisco Cabrera will spend at least 28 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to three counts of armed robbery, use of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, armed carjacking, and possessing a firearm and ammunition as a convicted felon, Jan. 20, 2022. (Polk Co. Sheriff’s Office)

Eventually, a special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives fired at Cabrera and hit him twice in his lower back. He was arrested, taken to the hospital, and booked upon his release the next day.

Cabrera’s plea deal had him plead guilty to three counts of armed robbery, use of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, armed carjacking, and possessing a firearm and ammunition as a convicted felon.

The 29-year-old faces a minimum mandatory sentence of 28 years, up to life, in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

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