Police said Bates was at the center of seemingly random, but connected, crimes that started at 11 p.m. Thursday. He entered a residence at Cambridge Woods Apartments, where four women and four men, all USF students, were celebrating the start of the NFL football season.
Bates tied up the men and sexually assaulted the women, authorities said. He then went to another complex nearby, approached a woman sitting on her porch and forced her inside her apartment at gunpoint, investigators said.
He told the woman he was going to rape her, but she began to pray, Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor said. The woman prayed for Bates and with him, Castor said, and that unexpected act made Bates change his mind.
He left the woman unharmed but walked to The Oaks apartments, across the street from Cambridge Woods, where he barged into a party of about 25 people and threatened to shoot them. He forced the group into a bedroom and fired at least one round into the floor before leaving.
Claudia Seijo, a Hillsborough Community College student, posted on her Facebook page that the group was celebrating her birthday when Bates walked into the apartment.
“I got held at gunpoint inside my apartment with all my friends,” Seijo wrote. “Now all the cops are over here. Gun shot went off in the room with all of us. It was crazy. Worst birthday ever.”
Clarke, the USF sophomore, and his friend, Caitlyn Nugent, said they were shocked when they learned of the scope of Bates’ crimes and how it all came to an end in a shootout on U.S. 301