Three suspects charged with armed robbery following early-morning incident in downtown Sarasota

One victim able to flag down police officer to report details

The alleged robbery reportedly occurred in front of the Tropical Thai Restaurant in downtown Sarasota. Image from Google Maps

The Sarasota Police Department has arrested three individuals on armed robbery charges following an early-morning incident reported on Dec. 1 on Main Street in Sarasota, the agency has announced.

A 19-year-old Sarasota man told officers that “he was punched in the face by a man armed with a gun,” a news release said. “The victim added that the man demanded money, stole his phone, and fled the scene.”

Officers were able to locate the following suspects shortly after the incident occurred, the Probable Cause Affidavits note. The three were arrested just before 4:30 a.m. at the Police Department Headquarters on Adams Lane in downtown Sarasota, the affidavits add. The suspects are as follows:

  • Alexis Saavedra, 23, of 1381 13th St., in Sarasota, has been charged with three counts of Armed Robbery with a Firearm; his bond totals $90,000.
  • Bryan Lopez, 27, also of 1381 13th St., in Sarasota, has been charged with three counts of Armed Robbery with a Firearm, with bond totaling $75,000.
  • Ayleen De La Cruz, 23, of 2055 10th St. in Sarasota, has been charged with three counts of Armed Robbery with a Firearm, as well; her total bond was set at $75,000.

All three remained in custody as of early in the afternoon of Dec. 6, Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office Corrections Division records noted.

Bryan Lopez. Image courtesy Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office

Their arraignments are scheduled for Jan. 12, 2024, the records added.

The Probable Cause Affidavits say that an officer on patrol about 12:40 a.m. on Dec. 1 was “flagged down by three individuals” who reported that one of them had been robbed in front of the business standing at 1535 Main Street in downtown Sarasota. The victims added that one suspect “brandished and racked a silver and black handgun” while confronting them.

The Tropical Thai Restaurant stands at 1535 Main St., a map shows.

The man who flagged down the officer — Karol Rodriguez — said that while he and his friends were walking east on the west side of Main Street, two males approached them. One of the males, who appeared to be Hispanic, started arguing with Rodriguez, the affidavits add.

After Rodriguez heard what he believed to be the sound of a gun slide being racked, the affidavits continue, he said he looked down toward the suspect’s waist, where he saw a handgun, which he described as a 9 mm.

Alexis Saavedra. Image courtesy Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office

Then Rodriguez said the suspect approached his friend, Alberto Rico, and punched Rico in the face, knocking him to the ground. The suspect asked for Rico’s money while punching him, the affidavits point out.

Then the first suspect approached Rodriguez “and took his iPhone 14 pro from his pocket,” the affidavits say.

A second suspect held Rodriguez’s friend, Luis Anthony, “placing [Anthony’s] hands behind his back while asking him for money,” Rodriguez continued in the affidavits.

After the officer spoke with Rico and Anthony, the affidavits note, the officer learned from Anthony that he had observed the suspects getting out of a dark sedan parked in front of Pizza & Brew, which is located at 1507 Main St.

Further, Anthony told the officer that a female suspect showed up after the incident began. She intervened with the two male suspects, Anthony added, “and pulled them away,” the affidavits say.

Then the suspect with the gun told the female to get inside the vehicle, the affidavits add, “and they left the area.”

The affidavits explain that Rodriguez “was able to pin the location of his phone using his smartwatch. The pin was accurate enough” to isolate the residence at 1381 13th St. in Sarasota, the affidavits note.

Officers who drove to that location found two Hispanic males and a Hispanic female inside the house, the affidavits add.

All three suspects were interviewed at the Sarasota Police Department headquarters before their arrests, the affidavits point out.

This incident remains under investigation, the release pointed out. Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call the Criminal Investigations Division at 941-263-6070, leave an anonymous tip with Crime Stoppers by calling 941-366-TIPS, or going online at

Past criminal history for Lopez

A Sarasota News Leader search of the records maintained by the Office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court in Sarasota County found no prior criminal charges against Saavedra.

Ayleen De La Cruz. Image courtesy Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office

In April, the News Leader found, De La Cruz was cited for speeding 56 mph in a 35 mph zone and fined $131.

A records search for Lopez found that he had been charged with a number of traffic infractions, including careless driving and having no driver’s license. He also was charged in June 2015 with possession of not more than 20 grams of marijuana.

Then, in August 2016, Lopez was charged with third-degree felony possession of cocaine; a second-degree misdemeanor count of possession of liquor by a person under the age of 21, which was a first offense; and a first-degree misdemeanor count of trespassing.

Court records also show that, in October 2016, Lopez pleaded “No contest” to the three counts. The judge found him guilty on the cocaine count, ordered him placed on drug offender probation for 24 months and required him to complete 50 hours of community service. Further, Lopez was ordered to pay total costs and fees of $583.

In November 2016, court records note, Lopez filed a form with the court, saying he would prefer spending time in jail instead of serving 24 months of probation. Yet, in January 2017, he was found to have violated the terms of probation. In February 2017, court documents point out, Lopez was sentenced to 90 days in jail on the cocaine charge. Finally, Lopez ended up turning over to the Clerk of Court’s Office $1,213.70 in court costs and fees — including interest — on Dec. 17, 2019.