An 18-year-old Auburndale girl has been arrested on felony armed burglary charges, and her co-conspirators are in the hospital with gunshot wounds, after a plan to rob an Eagle Lake resident did not go as planned, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.
EAGLE LAKE — An 18-year-old Auburndale girl has been arrested on felony charges of armed burglary, and her two alleged co-conspirators, also both of Auburndale, are in the hospital with gunshot wounds, after a plan they had to rob an Eagle Lake resident didn’t go as planned, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.
Brittany Cook, Zachary Morris, 18, and Eric Villalobos Jr., 28, had planned to rob a resident they knew as “BY,” according to Cook’s arrest affidavit.
“BY” was known to have cocaine, heroin, cash, guns and a large amount of cannabis, she told deputies.
But the plan went awry, the PCSO said, and when the three arrived at the Eagle Lake Fire Department after Morris and Villalobos Jr. were shot, Cook initially claimed they had been victims of a drive-by shooting. She later changed her story, deputies said, saying Villalobos and Morris were standing outside her vehicle when they were shot by unknown people.
Cook told deputies that the three had been struggling financially, and while they ditched their initial plan a month ago, Villalobos woke up Thursday and said they were going to go ahead and carry out the plan.
Cook called Morris to let him know what they were doing, saying, “let’s do this,” and the two picked up Morris on the way, according to her arrest affidavit.
She told deputies the idea was that she would go into the residence, acting like she was going to buy some cannabis, and when she uttered the phrase “Do you still have those beans?” Morris and Villalobos would know it was time for them to enter the Eagle Lake home.
Cook said she concealed her phone, which was on and connected to Morris’ cellphone, so it would pick up the planned signal phrase when she said it.
But Morris and Villalobos didn’t wait for her signal and came into the residence on their own, Cook told deputies.
She said Morris ran up to “BY” and struck him with a metal object, while Villalobos started scouring the residence for cash and items to steal.
She left when a resident inside the home picked up a firearm from a table, Cook said, and after she left that’s when the shooting began.
Morris and Villalobos fled the house with gunshot wounds, Cook said, and she drove them to the fire department.
Deputies said they also spoke with a female resident of the Eagle Lake home, and she told them she heard a scuffle in the kitchen and went to see what was happening. She said she saw a fellow resident being attacked by someone she didn’t know, while a second person, armed with a hammer, screamed, “Where is the money?”
The person with the hammer then approached her and struck her somewhere about the face, according to reports. She told deputies that when she saw the resident and one of the suspects struggling over a handgun, the handgun fell to the floor. She said she grabbed the gun, firing at both of the suspects because she was in fear for their lives, the PCSO said.
The suspects fled the residence at that point, she said.
Cook was arrested on charges of conspiracy to commit robbery, armed burglary with assault and battery, attempted armed robbery and unlawful use of a two-way communication device.
Villalobos and Morris are named as suspects in the case, the PCSO said. They are currently in the hospital in critical condition and charges are forthcoming, according to the sheriff’s office.
Kathy Leigh Berkowitz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 863-802-7558. Follow her on Twitter @kberkowitzthel1.