Headlines in No Time
December 5, 2013
School Bans ‘Twerking’ After Student Slips, Triggers Fire Alarm
area middle school has banned the dance move known as “twerking” after a student fell and triggered a classroom fire alarm in the process.
A sixth grader at North Naples Middle School was reportedly performing the move – which consists largely of gyrating one’s hips – in a classroom when he lost his balance, WZVN-TVis reporting.
In the process of falling, the unnamed studenthit the fire alarm, calling local firefighters to the school to investigate.
“The fire department came and teachers were all over the place,” Alyssa Murillo, a sixth grade student who was present at the time of the
Tuesday incident, told the station. “The principal made an announcement that twerking was banned.”
Officials additionally told WZVN that the student was suspended for his actions.
The move experienced a boom in popularity after singer Miley Cyrusimplemented it in dance routines accompanying several recently released music videos and live performances.
Two million passwords stolen from popular sites
More than two million usernames and passwords have been hacked. Security experts say that a criminal gang may be behind this security breach.
They stole user names and passwords. Even worse, they posted all of it online for other hackers to gain access to.
In all, 93,000 sites were hacked include some of the popular ones like Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Twitter and Linkedin.
One thing learned from all of these lists of stolen passwords is how many people use the same easy-to-guess ones.
The breach was discovered by researchers working for the security firm Trustwave. The company suggests you reset your password on all of these sites.
The best advice from experts is to stay away from the commonly used passwords.
Tampa City Council to consider new rules on bar closing times
The Tampa City Council is scheduled to talk about proposed ordinances that would affect bar closing times.
One ordinance would roll back bar closing times from 3 a.m. to midnight. Another would create an extended-hours permit that establishments could apply for in order to stay open until 3 a.m.
Bar employees said they are worried the new rules could hurt business.
"For a city based upon hospitality, it makes absolutely no sense, especially that we have a lot of Europeans coming in that bring the Euro here," said Kerin Clarkin of Gaspars Grotto. "We're bringing a lot more money to this town. As we increase business and more business comes in, especially corporations, we're going to bring in more tourists into town, and if we end at midnight, we're just going to throw away all that money."
Some city officials said the changes could make it easier to revoke a permit if a particular bar starts creating problems.
However, others say they don't want to do anything to hamper responsible business owners who are trying to stay afloat.
Collier student suspended after twerking incident
COLLIER COUNTY, FL -
We are learning a Collier County student was suspended over an incident that started with twerking. It may be the latest trend, but the latest message to students is think before you twerk.
"The principal made an announcement that twerking was banned," said Alyssa Murillo, a 6th grader at North Naples Middle School.
North Naples Middle School is now a twerk-free zone, after students say a classmate started twerking in class.
"When his feet were against the wall his foot slipped," Murillo said.
Murillo said she was in the classroom when the boy's foot slipped, and she said it hit the fire alarm.
"The fire department came and teachers were all over the place," Murillo said.
In a statement from the district, we're told the student was suspended, but for an incident that happened after the twerking.
School officials would not comment on what happened after the twerking, but officials with the North Naples Fire Department confirm they were called to a false fire alarm at North Naples Middle School on Tuesday.
School officials said students can be suspended for twerking.
"This is a really good school and I'm not going to go against what they say," said Georgeanna Schilling, a parent.
"As a parent, I don't see a parent being ok with their kids doing that in school," said Eduardo Murillo, a parent.
The dance move is too inappropriate for parents and school officials alike, but for students, it's all for fun.
"I don't think it's appropriate for school, but I don't think they were doing it to be inappropriate," said Catherine Schilling, an 8th grader.
DECEMBER 4, 2013
Alleged shooter Jose Martins arrested in North Carolina
Jose Martins, wanted in connection to the November 27 shooting incidentinside the House of Brewz restaurant at Gulf Coast Town Center, has been arrested in North Carolina, according to his father, Carlos Martins, and other sources.
Carlos Martins spoke to us first and said it was a relief for him and his wife to know that his son was found alive.
Jose Martins, 30, had been on the run since the incident.
Information gathered by the U.S. Marshal's Florida Regional Fugitive Task Force led to the determination that Jose Martins might be hiding out in a small town in western North Carolina. With the assistance of Marshals in North Carolina, Martins was located at a hotel in Boone, North Carolina, where he was arrested late this afternoon in the parking lot after walking out of his room.
Martins will be held in North Carolina pending extradition to Florida. Once back in Lee County, Martins faces charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and firing a deadly missile into an occupied building.
Python shows up in East Naples yard
COLLIER COUNTY, FL -
An East Naples man tells us he came within feet of a 12-foot long python in his own backyard.
"It's really surprising to see something that big in your backyard," said Rick Dominicks.
Landscapers spotted the snake while doing yard work. Dominicks said he went out too look and mistakenly got too close.
"I started scooping the brush off of him and he poked his head up, and I said, ‘whoa!'" Dominicks said.
Dominicks shot and killed the python before it could make a move.
"I had to do what I had to do," he said. "I didn't want him to turn and get a hold of me."
His chickens may not have been so lucky. Five of them have disappeared this month.
"I didn't know what could have been getting the chickens," Dominicks said. "I guess [the snake] could be one of the culprits."
The sighting is not completely rare. Experts say now is when pythons and other snakes start popping up.
"It starts to get really cold and they need to go out there and heat up their bodies before they can go out there and start doing their thing," said Jorge Pino, a Florida Fish and Wildlife officer.
Wildlife officers said pythons are out more this time of year, but still said finding one in your backyard is very uncommon.
"This is a very unlikely scenery and probably one that won't repeat itself," Pino said.
Experts think the snake was someone's pet that got loose, not a python from the wild.
It is not illegal to shoot a python on your own property, but experts said it is important to report it.
"It's very important for us to have a detailed database for where or where not these snakes are migrating to," Pino said.
With no way of knowing where the python came from, Dominicks isn't taking any chances. He said he knows one wrong step could land big consequences.
"I always keep an eye out for anything back there because you never know what's going to be back there," Dominicks said.
To report a python sighting, call the exotic species hotline at 888-483-4681
Deputies: Two men stole $450 worth of love gloves
Guess somebody must be planning one rockin' New Year's Eve party.
Or maybe they're just very, very popular with the ladies?
Get the DUHtails at WFTS-TV/ABC Action News.
Dog rolls down car window, helps deputies nab duo on drug charges
Nakita Martin was hiding two packets of cocaine under her bra, according to reports, and when they fell to the ground during a search, she stepped on them.
November 27, 2013
Firefighters explain dangers associated with frying turkey
As Southwest Floridians and their families prepare to feast this Thursday, the Cape Coral Fire Department wants them to be aware of the dangers associated with one of the Thanksgiving holiday's tastiest traditions: frying the turkey.
Unattended cooking is one of the leading causes of house fires in the United States, says Cape Coral Fire Department Public Information Officer Michael Heeder.
What goes into deep frying a 15-lbs bird makes it one of the most daunting and dangerous cooking feats.
While turkey frying conjures up images of flames and spilt oil for some, others say the ends justify the means.
"It's beautiful to look at and it's wonderful tasting," Debbie Angel, of Cape Coral said. "You just have to know what you are doing."
Heeder and the fire department want you to follow these tips:
-Never put a frozen turkey in a pot of hot oil, the steam generated will case overspill, and could ignite a fire.
- Heat oil between 300 to 350 degrees
- Wear gloves
- Set up your frying equipment away from your home or buildings
- Leave 1-inch of space inside the pot, between the turkey and pot's edge, to prevent overspills.
In case your turkey frying experience goes wrong, Heeder says you'll need to have a fire extinguisher handy.
"Hot oil and water will never mix, so it's important," Heeder said.
Some retailers bucking Thanksgiving sale trend
Black Friday is working on swallowing Thanksgiving, and some argue it's even going after Thanksgiving Eve (is that a real thing?)
Big retailers, including Walmart, Target and Best Buy will be open to indulge shoppers on Thanksgiving. K-mart is even staying open 40-some hours straight.
But a number of retailers are making headlines by bucking that trend. Home Depot, Costco and Barnes & Noble will all be celebrating Turkey Day at home. You can find a longer list of stores that will be closed below.
One poll showed stores opening on Thanksgiving is rather unpopular. A social media campaign to 'Save Thanksgiving' has popped up on social media, arguing the holiday is a time for family and giving thanks.
So why would some stores ignore that sentiment?
Among the other arguments, polls show consumers plan to cut their spending by 10-percent this holiday season - and opening on Thanksgiving could let them snag shoppers before they spend their money elsewhere.
So... what will you do? Will you shop on Thanksgiving? Vote in our poll below.
Retailers closed on Thanksgiving (the list is evolving - check here for updates)
Bath & Body Works
BJ's Wholesale Club
Burlington Coat Factory
Half Price Books
Joann Fabric & Craft Stores
Nordstrom / Nordstrom Rack
Tractor Supply Company
True Value Hardware
Bullied 12-year-old girl is threatened with expulsion from school for refusing to cut her natural afro hair
A 12-year-old girl is being threatened with expulsion from school for refusing to cut her natural afro hair.
Vanessa VanDyke, who is a student at Orlando’s Faith Christian Academy in Florida, had been suffering taunts over her hairstyle from fellow students.
But her mother, Sabrina Kent, says that when she complained about the issue, school administrators took similar aim and told Vanessa that her hair violated school dress codes for being a ‘distraction.'
Vanessa says that she was given one week to decide if she wanted to cut her hair, and if not, she would have to leave the school.
She feels that her hair is part of her identity and for that reason, does not plan to change it.
‘It says that I’m unique,’ Vanessa told Click Orlando. ‘First of all, it’s puffy and I like it that way. I know people will tease me about it because it’s not straight. I don’t want to fit in,’ she continued.
Ms Kent says that school administrators targeted Vanessa after she approached them about the excessive teasing Vanessa was receiving from fellow students over her hair.
‘There have been bullies in the school,’ she said. ‘There have been people teasing her about her hair, and it seems to be that they’re blaming her.’
School officials now say that Vanessa is violating the institution’s official dress code, which includes clauses about hair care, reports Click Orlando.
It states that ‘hair must be a natural color and must not be a distraction,’ and cites mohawks, shaved designs, and rat tails as distracting examples.
The school says that Vanessa’s hair qualifies as a distraction, but according to Ms Kent: ‘A distraction to one person is not a distraction to another. You can have a kid come in with pimples on his face. Are you going to call that a distraction?’
Administrators at Faith Christian Academy were not available to respond to MailOnline’s requests for comment.
Vanessa, who has been at the school since the third grade, says that she is ‘depressed about leaving my friends and people I’ve known for a while, but I’d rather have that than the principals and administrators picking on me and saying that I should change my hair.’
Barfing pizza thrower jailed in Port St. Lucie dustup
The girlfriend of Frank Sepulveda told Port St. Lucie police about 1:10 a.m. Nov. 12 that Sepulveda came home drunk and started barfing on her bed.
The girlfriend said she helped Sepulveda, 23, and made him a pizza, a flat food featuring cheese and tomato sauce.
"As the pizza was cooling down in the oven, Frank became enraged, took the pizza out of the oven and threw it at her," the affidavit states.
The girlfriend said Sepulveda pushed her down.
Sepulveda, meanwhile, said he had "a couple" of alcoholic beverages with a friend and came home and passed out. He started blowing chunks and his girlfriend helped him.
Sepulveda said his girlfriend indicated she wanted to break up and he grew angry.
He denied tossing the pizza or pushing her down.
Sepulveda, of Hollywood, was arrested on a misdemeanor battery charge.
NOVEMBER 26, 2013
Florida GOP leader calls for Radel to resign
Monday, Representative Trey Radel faced more disapproval and criticism. Support for troubled Congressman Trey Radel has hit an all time low. Tonight, members of his own party are speaking out -- and calling for his resignation.
All this as the once rising GOP star sits in rehab in an effort to reclaim his position as a leader.
We confirmed, in what is likely a coordinated effort, Southwest Florida conservative groups have held several meetings to decide their stance on whether or not to support the congressman any longer.
This is what the Lenny Curry, Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, had to say:
"The people of Florida's 19th congressional district need a congressman who is one hundred percent focused on the needs of Southwest Florida. Therefore Congressman Radel should step down and focus his attention on rehabilitation and his family"
Back at home, the Chairman of the Lee Republican Executive Committee, Terry Miller, issued a statement of his own. It states, in part, "His actions clearly disqualify the pursuit of another term. If he should run for re-election, he would not enjoy our support."
He goes on to say, "We feel it is in the best interest of all involved that he resign immediately."
Earlier today we learned two of his staffers quit. Communications Director Amanda Nunez and Digital Director Caitlin Rush have left. Both took jobs with a political communications firm in D.C.
The news comes just four days after Congressman Radel checked into the Hazelden Addiction Treatment Center in Naples.
We reached out to Radel's staff tonight for comment on these latest developments.
"Congressman Radel's top priority right now is to complete his rehabilitation and then return to work as soon as possible," a Radel spokesperson told us late Monday.
FGCU enforces new skateboarding policy
FORT MYERS, FL -
There are few things as startling as having a skateboard zoom past you while you're walking on a sidewalk.
Administrators at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) have had enough and they're doing something about it.
Skateboarding is a means of transportation for FGCU student Anthony Riesgo to roll to class and get there on time.
"I was riding my board and he pulls me over," said Riesgo.
Riesgo was fined and he's not alone.
"He stopped me and took out his booklet and wrote me a $30 ticket," said Freshman Alex Spencer.
A policy prohibits students from biking, skateboarding, rollerblading or scooting under covered walkways. It was approved by Dr. Bradshaw in April.
Since the October 9th enforcement, campus police have issued 22 tickets to students breaking the rule.
"I don't know why they are being that way to students who are doing the right thing, being at school, not causing any harm to anyone. It's wrong," said Riesgo.
FGCU Campus Police Chief Steven Moore says the policy is the result of some growing pains within the campus.
"It's basically a safety issue. The sidewalks are a lot more crowded. We didn't want to discourage the skate boarding; we just wanted them to do it safely. So, the compromise was, don't skateboard under the covered walkways," said Moore.
It's a concern that even freshman and skateboarder Josh Coots understands.
"I can see why it would be like a health hazard for people who are going way to fast in hallways and outside. The really long boards, those are a lot harder to control and you can injure someone," said Coots.
But for Riesgo - you will still find him rolling by.
Thanksgiving is murder on turkeys, animal-rights group says
Thanksgiving is murder on turkeys, an animal-rights group says.
Morning rush-hour drivers on Interstate 4 Wednesday will see that message as they pass by Conroy Road.
The Animal Rights Foundation of Florida said it plans to hang a huge banner declaring that, "Holidays are murder on turkeys."
Pasco critic pays $11,000 tax bill in $1 bills
DADE CITY — One of Pasco County’s most outspoken government critics made a political statement Monday when she paid her $11,075.44 tax bill in $1 bills and 44 pennies.
“It took several employees more than an hour to count and verify it,” Pasco County Tax Collector Mike Fasano said. “It was correct — down to the penny.”
Julann Roe, a registered Libertarian, lives on a 41-acre estate in Dade City valued at $711,447. Her property on Mickler Road includes a 4,014-square-foot home with a covered pool, jacuzzi and outdoor fireplace, a detached three-car garage and horse stables worth $118,300.
Roe could not be reached for comment.
The insurance company owner attended multiple public hearings this year to speak against the county budget, which included employee pay raises for the first time in five years. She also spoke against a Pasco County proposal to increase the gas-tax increase — which commissioners defeated — and the Florida Retirement System.
“I do not feel obligated to pay for any wage increase for any county employee,” she said in September. “I do not feel obligated to pay for your retirement, either. Save your own money for your own retirement.”
“The public is not your slush fund,” she continued. “Stay within your means because we don’t want anymore taxes.”
Fasano said Roe’s visit to the Dade City tax collector’s office created a bit of a commotion.
“We’re here to serve anyone who comes into our office,” he said. “We’ve had people pay in cash before, but to have a property tax bill over $11,000 is not average. I was wondering how she got that many dollar bills. I doubt any bank would have that many singles on hand.”
Butterball warns of potential turkey shortage
LEE COUNTY, FL -
Still debating on when to pick up your Thanksgiving turkey? With just over a week to go before Thanksgiving, Butterball -- the nation's largest turkey producer -- announced there could be a shortage of fresh birds to go around.
At the Circle-S Ranch in North Fort Myers you'll likely find some of the only free-roaming turkey's not already packaged and shipped this time of year.
The man keeping them safe is breeder Stuart Stein, although many might know him by another name."
"I'm known as chicken man Stu," Stein said.
Today, chicken man is talking turkey addressing the possibility of large, fresh turkey shortages this year.
"This has been a year of storms, a year of problems -- we've had our problems in the industry with feed," Stein said.
Turkey giant Butterball specifically referenced turkeys 16 pounds and larger.
Stein has theory why.
"We're trying to grow a healthier bird with less chemical dependency, to do that in doing that size is going to be compromised," Stein said.
Stein also says the majority frozen birds on the market typically labeled as broad breasted are genetically modified. He expects no shortage there.
"Today, you're getting a perfected specimen for your table," he said.
We called around and visited a few stores tonight to see if there's indeed a shortage. Fresh Market told us they'll plenty of both fresh and frozen. One Publix told us they have turkey stacked to the ceiling
"No, they got tons of them," said one customer.
As far a chicken man Stu's concerned that's plenty to be thankful for.
"There should be no reason anyone should worry getting a turkey for their Thanksgiving," he said.
Swordsman steals liquor from Fort Myers bar
FORT MYERS -
Deputies arrested a sword-wielding man after he allegedly broke into a Beef O' Brady's bar and stole bottles of liquor.
Deputies were dispatched to the restaurant located at 11841 Palm Beach Boulevard Monday morning after receiving reports of a past occurred burglary.
While reviewing video surveillance, store employees said a man wearing black entered the restaurant's patio with a long sword.
Deputies say the suspect is seen prying open the patio bar's liquor cabinet.
After reviewing the video, deputies met with a store employee who reported seeing a suspicious person near the building around 6 a.m. She said she didn't think anything of it until she noticed the patio bar had been burglarized.
She says she watched the video surveillance and recognized the suspect as the man she had seen in the area.
Deputies located the suspect and the employee positively identified him as the man she had seen earlier that morning and the man on the video.
Thomas Brooks, 23, was arrested on burglary charges. He was booked into the Lee County Jail.
Deputies searching for DD robber
FORT MYERS, FL -
The Lee County Sheriff's Office says they are looking for a suspect involved in a robbery that happened at a Dunkin' Donuts Tuesday morning.
Deputies say it happened at the Dunkin' Donuts at 11609 S Cleveland Ave just after 7:30 a.m.
The suspect got away with an undisclosed amount of cash.
There were no customers in the store at the time and no employees were injured.
Surveillance photos will be released shortly--stay with us for updates.
Rep. Radel charged in DC with cocaine possession
As first reported by Politico, Representative Trey Radel, the Republican who represents the west coast of Florida from Fort Myers to Marco Island, has been charged with possession of cocaine in the District of Columbia stemming from an October 29 incident.
The AP is reporting the congressman was involved in "buy and bust" operation.
Radel, 37, was charged with misdemeanor possession of cocaine in D.C. Superior Court today. He is scheduled to appear in court again on Wednesday.
Radel is a former journalist, TV news anchor and radio talk show host.
He was elected to the House of Representatives in November 2012.
According to Bill Miller with U.S. Attorney's Office for District of Columbia, more will come out on the drug charges during the hearing Wednesday in D.C. Superior Court. The hearing will be before Judge Tignor at 9 a.m.
They cannot currently comment on where this happened or where the drugs were found.
As the news spread here in Southwest Florida and around the country, we spent Tuesday evening talking with the congressman's constituents, members of his party and his former political challengers.
"If they can't make decisions on their own lives, how are we suppose to trust the decisions they make for other people," said Fort Myers resident Ross Parasiliti.
"It's a career-ender, also his whole life is probably going to change," said Fort Myers resident Tim Walsh.
The news was also a shock to fellow conservatives.
"I certainly never saw anything that would have indicated that he had a problem, and it's a disappointment because, you're right, I was a supporter of his," said Mike Lyster, Chairman of the Collier County Republican Executive Committee
While some of his constituents are calling for him to resign, his former political opponents are more concerned with the congressman's health -- including his Democratic challenger back in the 2012 election, Jim Roach.
"He's a tough guy he'll get through it somehow but I wouldn't wish this on any one," Roach said.
As do two of his opponents in the Republican primary, Gary Aubuchon and Chancey Goss.
"If there is a silver lining in this it's that Trey announced that he's going to seek the help that he needs," Aubuchon said.
"It sounds like he's admitting he has a problem and that's the first step," Goss said.
Woman accused of stealing adult toy, then inquiring about job
CRESTVIEW – A woman is accused of going into an adult products store intoxicated, shoplifting a sex toy by concealing it in her pants, then inquiring about a job, according to a Crestview Police Department arrest report.
The store manager told a police officer the 23-year-old woman came into Intimate Treasures on East James Lee Boulevard and inquired about a job, leaving her name, address and telephone number. Afterwards the manager noticed an Evolved brand female sex toy was missing from its display location. She reviewed video surveillance and spotted the woman “manipulating the front of her pants and shirt, in an action consistent with concealing the device within her pants,” the officer wrote in the report.
Police contacted the woman, whom they positively identified as the person in the video. They showed her the video and she confirmed it was she.
“As the defendant viewed her actions, she exclaimed in disbelief, ‘Oh my God. Look at what I’m doing. Oh my God. I’m gonna cry,” the report indicated.
“After viewing the video footage, the defendant retrieved the stolen device, which had been used and was no longer in a condition to be returned to the business, and advised she did not remember taking it,” the report stated.
She admitted she was “very drunk” when she was in the business.
She was charged with retail theft and has a Nov. 26 plea date.
7-foot gator found on front lawn of Cocoa home
COCOA, Fla. —
A Cocoa homeowner got quite a scare when she spotted a seven-foot alligator hanging out on her front lawn.
Trappers were called in to remove the gator from herBrevard County property.
The woman's husband told WFTV they're used to seeing wildlife, but that was a first.
"We usually have other animals: raccoons, possums, of that nature, but never an alligator," said the homeowner.
Brevard County Animal Services said the gator will probably be relocated.
Woman OK with crank calls to her rockin' phone number 867-5309
November 19, 2013|By Barbara Hijek, FloriDUH
In 1982, Tommy Tutone gave us an infamously prank phone number in its hit tune 867-5309/Jenny.
Now, 31 years later, it's still a number guaranteed to get you upwards of 50 prank calls a day, reportsWMBB ABC News-13 in Panama City.
NOVEMBER 19, 2013
First female Cape mayor sworn in
CAPE CORAL, FL -
Cape Coral's new mayor has been officially sworn in to the city's top seat.
Marni Sawicki was sworn into office about 5 p.m. as the city's first female mayor. She beat former Mayor John Sullivan by just 121 votes.
It wasn't enough to trigger an automatic recount, so Sullivan has filed a lawsuit for a recount of his own.
Sawicki can't help but look ahead.
"My goal is to make it a better place than when I came in. If I accomplish that it means everything so we have a lot of talks and discussions coming up on vision and where we would like to see the city in 30 to 40 years from now," she said.
We have learned Sawicki's attorneys have filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. It will be up to a judge to decide.
Florida won’t repeat public python hunt next year
MIAMI — A public hunt for Burmese pythons in Florida’s Everglades won’t be repeated next year, a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokeswoman said Monday.
Instead, the state is beefing up established programs that train licensed hunters and people who regularly work in areas known to contain pythons to kill or report exotic snakes.
“Certainly our work is not done with pythons,” said wildlife commission spokeswoman Carli Segelson.
The state-sponsored Python Challenge attracted roughly 1,600 hunters in January and February and made headlines worldwide. It netted 68 of the invasive snakes, the longest measuring more than 14 feet, but officials said the number of pythons caught wasn’t as important as the data collected during the hunt. University of Florida researchers still are analyzing that data.
Segelson said the hunt met the commission’s primary goal of raising awareness about Florida’s problem with pythons and invasive species, and there will not be another python hunt next year.
It’s unknown how many pythons live in Florida’s Everglades. Researchers say the large snakes are among the invasive species that are eating native wildlife at an alarming rate.
State and federal wildlife officials are exploring other ways to manage the python population, including radio tracking devices, snake-sniffing dogs and specially designed traps patented by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
During the Python Challenge, experienced hunters had more success than the hundreds of amateurs who signed up, so the state is focusing on honing their expertise to harvest pythons in the wild, Segelson said.
The state wildlife commission already allows people with special permits to remove pythons and other non-native snakes from designated wildlife management areas. A partnership with The Nature Conservancy and Everglades National Park will continue to train people who regularly work in areas known to contain pythons – such as law enforcement officers, utility workers and students doing research – to kill or report non-native snakes, Segelson.
The state also will reach out to licensed hunters to train and encourage them to harvest pythons while they’re out in search of other animals during open hunting seasons on designated lands, Segelson said.
Florida prohibits possession or sale of the pythons for use as pets, and federal law bans the importation and interstate sale of the species.
The wildlife commission urges people to report sightings of pythons and other exotic species to 1-888-IVE-GOT-1 or www.ivegot1.org .
People also can surrender exotic animals with no questions asked as part of the state’s pet amnesty program. Since 2006, 70 pythons have been handed over, including three at an amnesty event over the weekend, Segelson said.
Police ID man who fell through ceiling of luxury Hollywood hotel
Hollywood police on Monday morning identified the Chicago doctor who plunged to his death early Sunday at the Westin Diplomat Resort and Spa.
Piotr Kulesza, 46, fell from a 23rd-floor balcony and smashed through the glass ceiling of the luxury hotel, Lt. Osvaldo Perez, a spokesman for the Hollywood Police Department, said.
"Initial investigation does not reveal any suspected foul play," Osvaldo said. "Detectives are actively investigating this case as to whether it was an accident or intentional."
Kulesza is an assistant professor in pathology at Northwestern University and a physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
Kulesza's death remained shrouded in mystery Sunday as workers swept up debris in the lobby and guests wondered aloud about what led up to the bizarre fatality.
"It's terrible," said Ben Epstein, a guest at the beachside hotel. "We went to dinner last night…went upstairs about 11:30 p.m. We didn't hear anything. Today we came downstairs and everything was all blocked off."
Kulesza was pronounced dead on the scene soon after the first 911 call came in at 12:38 a.m., according to Joel Medina, a spokesman for Hollywood Fire Rescue.
Medina said the first emergency call may have been about a fire alarm and the activation of the sprinkler system at the hotel.
Sunday afternoon, the atrium was roped off and patrolled by hotel security guards. A large black cloth was spread below an area of the atrium's southeast corner, where workmen replaced two broken glass panes, each about 8 feet square.
"There was glass and debris in the lobby," said Medina. "And there was damage to a sprinkler pipe that caused the sprinkler system to go on."
Medina said he did not know whether Kulesza had hit the pipe and set off the sprinkler or if the sprinkler system had gone off before the man fell.
As Hollywood police detectives continued Sunday to gather evidence at the scene, speculation about what led up to the strange event was rampant.
"People were saying he was a speaker at a conference here — they said he jumped or was pushed off of the 27th floor," said Cheryl Stasney of Knoxville, Tenn., a guest at the hotel.
Hillary Clinton in Naples: Partisan bickering hampers country's strength
The former first lady — considered the front-runner for the 2016 Democratic nomination — projected a vision of how the United States must bolster its economy and retain a strong presence in the world.
Men's basketball: FGCU needs late run to put away D-II Eckerd
The Florida Gulf Coast University men's basketball team struggled to put away Division II Eckerd on Monday night
NOVEMBER 15, 2013
Cape city leaders meet with FBI agents
CAPE CORAL -
Suspicion hangs over Cape Coral City Hall after FBI agents met with current councilmember Chris Chulakes-Leetz and former city leader Bill Diele.
Diele claims the probe centers on a 652 acre land purchase for $13 million 18 months ago.
It was controversial at the time – but was it criminal?
City leaders say the purchase was a "great deal" and the perfect opportunity to buy land needed for sewer expansion, future police and fire stations and even parks -- at below market value.
Diele suggested -- for a lack of the better word -- Federal agents are looking at possible "insider trading."
Some sitting on the dais say they're skeptical of the timing -- which follows a shift in power.
Councilmember Leetz, who skipped the special council meeting in April 2012 and voiced disapproval of the deal, just got kicked out office by voters.
"This was a deal was made 18 months ago, OK. The council member who now is coming forward with this information so to speak… Where was he for the last 18 months? If there was wrong doing, where has he been?" questioned councilmember John Carioscia.
Those who were critical of the deal are staying quiet, and those who voted for it fear an FBI probe is purely politics.
Lehigh burglar distracts pit bull with corn
LEHIGH ACRES -
Deputies are investigating after a Lehigh Acres home was burglarized Wednesday morning.
The victim told deputies she went to the grocery store and came home to find her home had been ransacked while she was gone. She said her front door was unlocked and her dining room window was smashed out.
Deputies say the suspect(s) smashed the side window to gain entry into the home. Once inside, deputies say the suspect(s) stole a TV and a laptop.
The suspect(s) reportedly dumped corn from the refrigerator on the living room floor in an attempt to distract the victim's pit bull.
The victim believes the suspect(s) may have known her because her dog is usually aggressive and will bark.
Passenger Falls Out of Plane Off Florida Coast
A passenger fell out of small plane and plummeted into the water in Miami's Biscayne Bay today, police said.
The plane was flying at 1,800 feet at the time.
Air traffic control received a "mayday" call around 1:30 p.m. ET when the Piper PA 46 was flying roughly eight miles southeast of Tamiami Executive Airport.
"Mayday! Mayday! Mayday! I have a door ajar and I'm heading toward Tamiami," the pilot told air traffic control. "I have a door ajar and a passenger that fell down. I'm six miles from Tamiami."
"You said you've got a passenger that fell out of your plane?" the air traffic controller asks the pilot.
"That's correct, sir. He opened the backdoor and he just fell out the plane," said the unidentified pilot.
The aircraft continued onto Tamiami Airport and landed.
Miami-Dade Police tell ABCNews.com that their homicide unit was dispatched to the airport Thursday afternoon to question the pilot. The only people aboard the plane had been the pilot and the passenger, police said.
Detectives are currently at the Tamiami Airport "talking to the pilot to see what transpired before the passenger fell from the plane."
Divers with the Miami-Dade police department are searching the area where the man is believed to have fallen into the water. That area is between the Cape Florida Lighthouse on Key Biscayne and the seashore so some-where in that section of Biscayne Bay.
The Coast Guard station Miami Beach sent a search and rescue boat to search the waters and Miami-Dade County Air Rescue dispatched one of their helicopters as well. That helicopter has since been called off.
Hunter Shoots Robot Deer, Faces Charges
Is that a deer on the side of the road?
No, actually; it's a robot planted by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, and on Saturday morning a Florida man pulled over, got out of his car, and shot it, prompting police officers to emerge from a nearby hiding spot and charge him with shooting deer during closed season, discharging a firearm from a roadway, and taking deer from a right-of-way.
"He crossed a ditch and walked up toward the fence carrying a rifle," the report stated. "He placed the rifle on the fence to steady himself and shot at the replica," hitting it in the neck.
The man was arrested, saying he knew that hunting season was closed and that shooting deer from a roadway is illegal, and was released Sunday after posting $1,120 in bonds. He will appear in court December 12, facing a year in jail and $2,500 in fines if convicted.
The FWC often installs fake deer where illegal deer-harvesting is suspected. The most severe charge a hunter can incur by shooting one is a third-degree felony for firing across a fence line, called trespassing by projectile and offering a maximum sentence of five years in prison plus $5,000 in fines.
"It does help," said FWC Officer Jeffrey Babauta. "Once word gets out that there is a fake deer out there, it deters the bad hunting."
NOVEMBER 14, 2013
Cape mayor sues for recount after election loss
CAPE CORAL -
Cape Coral Mayor John Sullivan has filed the paperwork for a recount.
Sullivan filed a lawsuit against the winner of the election, as well as the Supervisor of Elections, on Tuesday at 5 p.m.
The incumbent lost the race for mayor to Marni Sawicki by 120 votes - less than one percent of the 15,923 votes cast.
Because the vote was not within half of one percent, it was up to him to file for the recount in Circuit Court, according to Florida law.
A difference of less than one half of one percent would have triggered an automatic recount.
The lawsuit, filed by Sullivan and five of his supporters, alleges "certain inconsistencies and irregularities occurred which resulted in Marni Lin Sawicki being reported as the successful candidate and winning the election by the Election Canvassing Board."
Sullivan and team also say there was:
- Misconduct by elections officials that changed or placed in doubt the results of the election
- A number of illegal votes or rejection of enough legal votes to change the outcome
- Voting system defects
$26,000 reward for SWFL's most wanted man
One of the most violent men to ever walk the streets of Southwest Florida is now the number one most wanted fugitive in Southwest Florida, and one of the 15 top priority cases nationwide for the U.S. Marshals Service.
This morning, Wesnel Isaac, DOB 4/25/81, was named Crime Stoppers Most Wanted Fugitive, but was also added to the elite list of the US Marshals 15 Most Wanted.
Isaac was chosen as one of the US Marshals "15 Most Wanted" out of a pool of roughly 500 other fugitive cases up for consideration. The extreme violence and disregard for human life that Isaac has displayed played a large role in his selection to this designation.
Isaac is a documented gang member, with an extensive criminal history, who is wanted in Lee County for three counts of kidnapping and murder, as well as attempted murder and home invasion robbery.
Isaac, along with his cohorts, stands accused of bursting into a North Fort Myers man's home in August 2007, then pistol whipping and shooting the victim multiple times, all because he didn't return a rental car back to Isaac in a timely fashion.
Just over three weeks later, Isaac and three others were named as suspects in a brutal triple homicide, in which three men were shot to death, then left in a car in a remote Lehigh Acres neighborhood. Isaac's three co-conspirators were all apprehended shortly thereafter – one of whom has been sentenced to three life sentences for his role in the triple murder. However, Isaac has managed to evade justice for over six years.
Detectives initially believed that Isaac returned to his native country of Haiti after the murders, however may have returned to the United States – where he still has connections – in the time that has passed.
Regardless of where he is, US Marshals are on the ready to apprehend this violent offender and afford him his well deserved day in court.
"Having the widespread reach of the US Marshals 15 Most Wanted list affords this case the attention and national focus its deserved," said Trish Routte, Crime Stoppers Coordinator. "For years, Isaac has posed a threat to our community, and any community in which he's resided, and until the day he's apprehended, that threat will remain. The members of the US Marshals Service have a tremendous track record of apprehending those who have eluded justice, and we are confident that they will get the job done and put Isaac behind bars for the rest of his natural life."
In addition to the local charges, Isaac's name is also penned on a federal warrant for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution, issued by the Middle District of Florida. This 32 year old fugitive has thus far racked up 34 previous arrests, including charges of burglary, drugs, resisting arrest and DUI. He is intimately affiliated with a violent Haitian gang, and as his actions have proven, he is a fugitive who should absolutely be considered armed and dangerous.
Florida woman renews marriage vows with Ferris wheel named Bruce
(CNET) -- We are approaching the stage of civilization when people are becoming more tolerant of each other's objects of affections.
The question some philosophers are asking, though, is: "What if that object is an object?"
I confess to have occasionally felt a frisson of affection for inanimate things. They might have been cars, clothes, or the British when they speak.
However, I have never really considered what it would be like to have an exclusive relationship with something that doesn't talk back,breathe, snore, or tell me to put on a tie.
This movie features people who are besotted with various mechanical and technological constructions.
For example, if I told you that Linda Ducharme of Gibsonton, Florida said: "It was like something pulling me, there was a tug," what might you think she was referring to?
Well, it was a Ferris wheel called the Sky Diva. This is a Ferris wheel she called Bruce. She's allowed to do that, because she married it. Um, him. And in the show Linda renews her vows.
She also feeds Bruce pizza.
There's a gentleman who explains the quest for love is very human, but he happened to find it with his car.
You're wondering if there's a woman who's in love with the Eiffel Tower, aren't you? As a matter of fact, yes. There's also one who is at one with Lady Liberty.
"When you're in love with the object, you become at one with the object," explained a woman who used to be in the military and on the US national archery team, but now Cupid's arrow has pierced her and directed her to buildings.
The phenomenon is known as objectum sexuality. It is based on the idea of animism, that suggests objects have a spiritual essence.
The whole show might make you question the meaning of life, love, and even sanity.
The gentleman in love with his car calls himself a "mechaphile." He underlines this is not about some twisted physical relationship with his car. "I think that's gross," he said.
It's far too easy to laugh at these people, to decide they must be actors, or to wonder whether they are entirely sane.
Still, you might know a few people who seem to be more in love with their gaming consoles or their iPhones than they are with anyone human.
When you read that 1 in 10 Americans use their smartphones during sex, a practice enjoyed by 20 percent of young adults, perhaps you might begin to decide that Ferris wheel-lovers are singular pioneers.
When the Singularity comes, we will all be free to express our love for objects.
Of course, by then, we'll largely be objects ourselves too.
Man impersonates officer to try and get discount on donuts
TRINITY, FL. - Pasco County Sheriff Deputies arrest a man after he tried to get a discount on donuts by impersonating a law enforcement officer.
Deputies say 48-year-old Charles "Chuck" Barry went to the drive-thru of a Trinity Dunkin' Donuts last week, and after identifying himself as law enforcement, asked for a discount on his order of donuts.
When the clerk refused to give him the discount, Barry allegedly held up a gun -- still in its holster -- and said, "See, I'm a cop!" The witness told investigators Barry never pointed the gun at him or took it out of its holster.
The next day he went through the drive-thru again and the manager took down his license plate tag.
On November 12, surveillance was set up at Dunkin Donuts and a Deputy with the Pasco Sheriff's Office observed Barry driving away from the business. A traffic stop was conducted and while speaking with Barry the deputy observed he had a law enforcement badge in his wallet. He was also carrying a .38 caliber revolver in his front pocket. He was positively identified by store personnel and arrested on above mentioned charges.
Barry was charged with one count of False Impersonation of a law Enforcement Officer and Improper Exhibition of a Firearm.
Florida Man Calls 911 Twice Within An Hour To Complain That His Neighbors Were Mean And Wouldn't Drink With Him
A man in Florida got so upset with his neighbors for not wanting to drink with him that he did the only logical thing there is to do in a situation like that: he called 911. Twice.
Both times, he let officers know that the neighbors weren’t being cool because, you know, the police don’t have anything better to do.
It’s safe to say this wasn’t a smart move on the part of James Collins.
Police in Fort Pierce, Florida, got a call around 8:35 p.m. about a domestic disturbance. Officers arrived on the scene and Collins explained to them why he was so upset.
"The complainant, James Collins, stated that his neighbors were being mean and would not drink with him," notes the police report. “Officer Rahn explained to James about misusing 911."
Apparently, Collins did not understand what the officers told him, because just 30 minutes after his initial encounter with police, the man called 911 once more to, again, complain that his neighbors wouldn’t drink with him.
This time, police were not so nice about it. The fact that he reeked of alcohol and had a container of “Blue Ice” in his front pocket were enough to arrest him for disorderly intoxication to go along with the misuse of 911 charge he was facing already.
NOVEMBER 11, 2013
FMB marathon makes history,
FORT MYERS BEACH, FL -
Fort Myers Beach made history Sunday by hosting it's first ever marathon; but that's not all that was made.
Several hotel officials on the island say they were booked solid because of the events on Fort Myers Beach this weekend.
Race organizers expected at least 3,000 people for the marathon alone. When all is said and done, they say it should bring in a lot of cash.
It was the first marathon Fort Myers Beach has ever hosted.
Organizers say it will bring in at least $1 million because people came in for the race, and stay for the week.
"It was a great excuse for a trip, you know," said Ann Clark from Holland, Michigan.
A couple from Oklahoma agreed.
"We've been eating a lot. A lot of restaurants, trolley service taking us to a lot of places on the island," said Terry Biehl from Tulsa, Oklahoma.
From foot traffic to real traffic, the island was packed with people.
Managers from SOB's, a well-known restaurant, say it's seen twice as many customers.
"We have just been exponentially busy. The more people come down, the more people come in to the Smokin' Oyster Brewery," said an official.
People came all the way from the other coast for the race.
"I live in San Francisco, California," said David Johnson.
Locals say they like to see Southwest Florida in the spot light.
"A lot of people show up from different parts like Miami and Tampa. It brings a lot of people to see what we have over here," said Naples resident Raul Gil.
The real winner of the race was Southwest Florida's economy.
"Good tourism, good introduction. [It] makes me want to come back," said Johnson.
"We don't have a beach in Tulsa. So this was good trip," said Biehl.
Thieves steal $20,000 worth of phones at Verizon store
NORTH FORT MYERS, Fla. - Crime Stoppers is asking for the public’s help honing in on an unknown suspect who hauled off more than 30 phones from a North Fort Myers Verizon store early this morning.
They report that around 4 a.m., the suspect broke into the Verizon store at 515 Pine Island Road after smashing through the store’s window. Surveillance cameras captured images of the suspect, who appeared to have a white bag or pillowcase in hand. Deputies say the suspect walked calmly through the store, initially attempting to remove display telephones, which he eventually caused to fall and break into several pieces.
He then walked to the storage area, where he loaded up more than 30 Apple iPhones and Samsung Galaxy phones. Those phones, most of which were Apple brand, are valued at more than $20,000. After taking as many phones as he could find, the suspect left the store through the same window he entered through.
The break in wasn’t discovered until later this morning, when employees arrived to work and heard the alarm for the iPhone case sounding, and soon after found the inventory nearly depleted.
Anyone with information on the break-in, or the identity and whereabouts of the suspect, is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-780-TIPS (8477). All callers will remain anonymous and will be eligible for a cash reward of up to $1,000. Tips may also be made online atwww.swflcrimestoppers.org or by texting a tip to CRIMES (274637) Keyword: REWARD.
Forecast: Citrus growers see lowest
crop in years
Florida hasn’t seen a citrus crop forecast so low since the 1989-90 season when a deep freeze hit.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture Nov. Citrus Forecast, orange production in Florida is down six percent from last season.
The state's grapefruit production is also down by 3 percent, along with non-Valencia orange production, which fell by 14 percent.
Growers said it’s due to the deadly citrus greening disease. It’s killing off crops by the millions and forcing prices up by as much as 15 percent.
But they are finding innovative ways of fighting back.
Sunday, the oranges continued to roll down the production line at Showcase of Citrus in Lake County.
“It looks like citrus greening is going to have about a $2 billion a year impact on the 2013-2014 citrus season here in Florida,” said grower John Arnold.
Going through the more than 2,000 acres of citrus groves, Arnold said his prices are up as much as 15 percent because of the shortage brought on by the Asian citrus psyllid.
The tiny insect causes citrus greening, a disease some growers might not see for up to three years.
Arnold explained how they are fighting the problem.
“We’ve got more of a homeopathic approach to combatting the disease, from applying compost to the soil and different nutritional regimens that we’ll use.”
Even then, it takes about a year for the crop to bounce back.
Not every orange, lemon or grapefruit price will be affected by citrus greening, since certain varieties can resist the disease.