A Dutch woman who got lost and stopped for directions in a blighted, high-crime neighborhood was shot Friday in an apparent holdup, the first random slaying of a foreign tourist in Florida in more than two years.
Officials had set up a variety of safeguards for visitors since a string of tourist murders in the past few years damaged Florida’s $31 billion-per-year tourism industry.
But Tosca Dieperink, 39, was shot on a bright, sunny day at a gas station with cars and pedestrians all around.
The woman and her husband “apparently appeared to be tourists” to their assailants, Detective Brian Calloway said. “They saw the opportunity and they acted on what they saw.”
Tosca and Gerrit-Jan Dieperink, 43, were going shopping and stopped at a Shell station - a Dutch-owned company whose logo is familiar to tourists worldwide - for directions, Police Chief Frank Boni said. The husband walked out of the car with a map, leaving his wife alone inside.
As Gerrit-Jan Dieperink talked to the gas station manager, a man walked up and began frisking him. The man showed a gun when the manager tried to chase him away.
At the same time, another man walked up to Tosca Dieperink, who was sitting in the front passenger seat with the windows rolled up and the doors locked, police said.
When he couldn’t open the car door, he fired once, hitting the woman in the chest.