‘Red Bandana Bandit,’ arrested in connection to five robberies in three area counties

Bandana Bandit linked to multiple armed robberies

PUTNAM COUNTY, Fla. — Noe Cruz, 22, of Keystone Heights, is in the Bradford County jail, accused of robbing five businesses, in three area counties, of over $6,000 in the month of October.

Cruz, who deputies referred to as the ‘Red Bandana Bandit,’ is accused of robbing three businesses in Putnam County, one in Alachua County, and another in Bradford County. Investigators say guns were used in the crimes.

On Tuesday, Putnam County Sheriff Gator DeLoach, Clay County Sheriff Michelle Cook, Bradford County Sheriff Gordon Smith, and Alachua Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant David Tuck held a joint press briefing in Melrose to announce the arrest of Cruz.

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Cruz was arrested Friday and is being held on $200,000 bond at the Bradford County jail, with warrant holds in Alachua and Putnam Counties.

“The very nature of the actions of this individual potentially could have resulted in injury or death to an innocent person as in each instance the suspect was armed with a firearm,” said Sheriff DeLoach.

“We learned years ago that thieves, crooks and dirtbags know no boundaries, they don’t know county lines,” said Sheriff Smith.

Investigators say the suspect wore the same type of clothing throughout the robberies. They tell us the left shoe of the suspect appeared to be falling apart and was held together with electrical tape. They say Cruz also wore a red bandanna in the robberies.

Cruz is accused of robbing a Domino’s Pizza in Palatka on October 5, a Domino’s in Interlachen on October 20, and an Interlachen Fast Track gas station on October 24.

Putnam County Sheriff, Gator DeLoach, says there were robberies in Bradford, and an adult novelty store in Alachua, in the same time period.

“We began a robbery detail, and broadcast a ‘BOLO,’ or ‘Be on the Lookout,’ for the suspect and his vehicle on October 26th, notifying Alachua, Bradford and Clay Counties of the possible suspect information,” said DeLoach. “Including a possible vehicle description from some video that was taken outside the Interlachen Domino’s robbery location.”

On October 26, DeLoach says Clay deputies stopped Cruz for an unsecured tag light. He went on to say Putnam and Bradford detectives then began a 13-day surveillance of the suspect’s vehicle, a green Jeep Cherokee.

On November 13, Putnam dispatch received a call of a suspicious man matching the description at a local business.

Investigators say surveillance deputies followed the vehicle back to his house in Keystone Heights, and Clay County deputies obtained a search warrant.

“This is another example of the continued commitment to our communities, working together in partnership, sharing information, sharing tips, sharing leads, which ultimately lead to the arrest of a dangerous suspect,” said Sheriff Cook.

DeLoach says the search revealed gloves, shoes and guns believed to be used in robberies and other evidence.

He tells us a statewide prosecutor will be assigned to the case due to multiple jurisdictions being involved, and investigators believe the case will be prosecuted in Bradford County.