MILTON, Fla. (WKRG) — It’s what media outlets deemed the “modern-day Bonnie and Clyde” — a Missouri couple committing crimes across multiple states. When they were found in Florida, gunfire was exchanged, leading to a deadly ending for one of the pair. This is the story of Blake Fitzgerald and Brittany Harper.
WKRG News 5 is looking back at the crimes that shocked the Gulf Coast. Blake Fitzgerald and Brittany Harper’s story is the eighth in the series.
On Jan. 31, 2016, Blake Fitzgerald and Brittany Harper committed their first reported crime at a Tuscaloosa hotel. Authorities said the couple kidnapped a hotel clerk and drove off with him in his vehicle. According to the hotel clerk at the time, the couple said they were trying to get to Panama City, Fla. in order to get married and start a new life. The couple did eventually let the clerk go.
Officers with the Vestavia Hills Police Department accused the couple of kidnapping a woman from her home on Feb. 1. According to officers, Fitzgerald entered the woman’s home through an open garage door and said he was having car trouble. Fitzgerald then allegedly pulled out a gun and demanded the woman’s vehicle.
At the time, Vestavia Hills police Lt. Kevin York told another CBS station that the woman was grabbed in a “crime of opportunity.” Officers said the two suspects later dropped the woman off at a hospital. The couple faced both kidnapping charges and theft charges.
The couple then made their way from Alabama to Georgia, where authorities said they were involved in another crime. Officers in Perry, Ga. issued a warning about Fitzgerald and Harper after they were allegedly involved in another robbery and kidnapping. Officers said the robbery and kidnapping happened around 11 p.m on Feb. 1 at a local gas station.
At this point, officials said the couple had been involved in:
- robbery and kidnapping of the hotel clerk
- kidnapping of the woman in Birmingham
- attempting to rob a McDonald’s manager
- robbery and kidnapping at the gas station
On Thursday, Feb. 4, authorities in Florida got a report of an armed robbery at a shoe store in Pensacola, Fla. The witness’ description of the two robbers seemed to match Fitzgerald and Harper. The vehicle the two were in was found hours later where it had been abandoned in a driveway near the store, according to The New York Times.
At around 12:30 a.m. on that Friday, officers got a call that the two had entered someone’s home and held its residents hostage, before stealing their truck. Officers then caught up with the truck and were able to corner the suspects on a road in Milton. Because the two refused to surrender, a 15-minute armed standoff took place. Then, the couple attempted to leave the vehicle and enter an occupied home.
Officers then open fired on the two, at which point Fitzgerald attempted to use Harper as a shield. Fitzgerald was shot and killed on the scene. As for Harper, she was injured and taken to the hospital but was then forced to face the consequences.
Harper pleaded no contest to the crimes committed in Florida but pleaded guilty to the Alabama crimes. She was sentenced to 19 years for the Alabama crimes. Harper faced a 20-year sentence in Florida.