The Orange County Sheriff's Office confirms to FOX 35 that they are investigating to see if an early morning robbery at a Denny's restaurant is linked to the string of hotel robberies in the Orlando area.
Investigators released recordings of 911 calls and surveillance video from the restaurant early Tuesday afternoon.
Deputies responded to the robbery just after 6 a.m. at the Denny's at 10999 International Drive near Central Florida Parkway. Witnesses said two men, one black and one Hispanic, wearing masks entered the restaurant demanding cash and other items. There were three employees and 10 customers in the Denny's at the time.
The customers were ordered to the ground and were robbed of their purses, wallets, cellphones, jewelry and other personal items. One victim who called 911 said she thought she was going to die.
"It was like shocking," said Yhomairy Noboa, who was eating breakfast when the two men barged into the restaurant. "Oh my God this is happening! This is really happening."
The employees were ordered to turn over money. They complied and gave the armed suspects an undisclosed amount of cash. The employees and customers were then herded into a storeroom while the robbers fled in an unknown direction.
"He came behind me, and he said, 'Stand up!' He didn't touch us. He said, 'Stand up!' pointed a gun," Noboa said.
Noboa waited five minutes after the men left and called 911.
Investigators believe the thieves may be connected to 11 other robberies in the Orlando area.
"Our detectives say there are a lot of parallels between this robbery and the hotel robberies that have been plaguing the Orlando area," said Orange County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Jane Watrel. "So they are taking a close look at it."
Noboa and her colleagues work at another business nearby and simply wanted to take a break. It turned out to be a traumatic moment.
"One of my coworkers was crying and shaking," she said. "I want them to be caught."
We tried talking to the manager at this restaurant but she did not want to comment.
Anyone with any information is asked to call Crimeline at 800-423-8477.