ST. PETERSBURG (FOX 13) – Tips from the community led to the arrest of the man who, police say, hog tied a realtor with zip ties, demanded a ransom from her husband, then held another realtor at gunpoint hours later.
Paul Jay Pinkston, 58, is charged with armed robbery and kidnapping with a deadly weapon. More charges are probable.
"We're confident we have the right guy," Assistant. Chief Jim Previtera said. "This is a good day. We got our man."
Detectives watched Pinkston all day Monday and, on his way home from work, arrested him outside his apartment on Gandy Boulevard.
Pinkston was silent as detectives escorted him out of St. Pete Police headquarters Monday night en route to the Pinellas County Jail.
Throughout this investigation, police relied on tips from the public, and over the weekend, police say, someone identified Pinkston as the 'person of interest' from Walmart surveillance video released Friday afternoon.
"The more we looked at him, the more it became obvious that we had found the right individual that we were looking for," Asst. Chief Previtera said.
Once in custody, Pinkston told police he is a retired Captain in the United States Air Force and has been working as a computer analyst in the bay area for several years.
Other than his employment and military background, police say Pinkston is not cooperating with investigators, and they haven't developed a motive.
"We believe that there was a level of planning that went into these two crimes. We believe that there was preparation and certain things done to avoid detection, so we knew we were dealing with what we believe to be a sophisticated criminal," Asst. Chief Previtera said.
Pinkston does not have a criminal history, and investigators had a hunch early on that they weren't looking for an experienced career criminal.
"We had extensive discussions throughout the weekend about when we finally find this individual who would he be," Previtera explained. "The ransom thing is what threw us off. The way he went about it, how he set it up, what he had in his possession when he did it - all of that convinced us that the individual was sophisticated."
Police took Pinkston's 2009 silver Nissan Murano in as evidence and executed a search warrant at his apartment.
Pinkston's wife was home at the time of his arrest and was asked to leave until the search warrant was complete.
Police say she and her husband were calm and collected during his arrest.
Police did not say if more arrests are coming or if he had help.
They also have not found a connection to realtors.
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