Sunday, February 18, 2018
News Roundup

Florida briefs: FAMU business fraternity accused of hazing


FAMU fraternity accused of hazing

Florida A&M University is suspending a business fraternity for alleged verbal abuse of prospective members.

Interim University President Larry Robinson said Friday that Alpha Kappa Psi will be suspended pending an investigation of what the school termed an alleged hazing incident.

No physical abuse has been alleged.

Robinson replaced James Ammons, who resigned after the hazing death last year of a drum major in Florida A&M's famed Marching 100 band. The band currently is suspended.

The verbal abuse complaint has been referred to the Tallahassee Police Department because it allegedly took place off campus without an advisor present.

It is a violation of university rules for such organizations to meet off campus without advisers.


Killer competent to be executed, judge rules

A judge ruled Friday that a convicted mass killer is legally competent to be executed next week after spending the last 34 years on death row.

Circuit Judge David Allen Glant ruled against 64-year-old John Errol Ferguson in Starke. Ferguson is being held at nearby Florida State Prison.

Defense lawyer Christopher Handman immediately appealed to the Florida Supreme Court in Tallahassee.

Ferguson was convicted of killing eight people in South Florida. Six victims died in a drug-related, execution-style mass killing in Carol City in 1977. Two Hialeah teenagers were slain on their way to a church meeting in 1978.

Glant upheld Gov. Rick Scott's finding that Ferguson is competent. The Supreme Court has stayed his execution for two days until next Thursday to hear the case.


Security guard shot by police dies

Authorities say a South Florida security guard has died, two weeks after being shot by police officers responding to his call.

Lauderhill police say 73-year-old Earl Brown died Thursday.

Brown called police to report a prowler around 2 a.m. on Sept. 27 at the International Global Metals recycling facility. When three officers arrived at the scene, they spotted a man carrying a gun and opened fire. The man with the gun turned out to be Brown, though police say he wasn't wearing any clothing that identified him as a security guard.

Investigators found a loaded .44-caliber magnum revolver at the scene.

The officers involved in the shooting have been placed on paid administrative leave.


Police ID body found encased in concrete

Authorities have identified the body of a man who was found entombed in concrete in the backyard of a northeast Georgia home.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation medical examiner's office said Friday that the man is 30-year-old Sean Dugas of Pensacola, Fla. The body was found Monday encased in a plastic storage container filled with concrete.

The identification of the body comes after 31-year-old twin brothers Christopher and William Cormier were charged this week with murder in the death of Dugas. The brothers are also charged with concealing a death.

Winder police officer Chris Cooper says medical examiners declared the death a homicide based on the number and location of the man's injuries.

Police say Dugas had been reported missing and was last heard from on Aug. 27.

Fort Pierce

Gunshots break classroom window

Authorities say a Central Florida school was placed on lockdown for about an hour after gunfire from outside broke a window.

Police say multiple shots were fired in the direction of Fort Pierce Magnet School of the Arts Friday morning. No injuries were reported.

Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers reports that police have no evidence to suggest the classroom or anyone inside was an intended target.

A police spokesman says investigators aren't sure if the shots came from crossfire or something else.


Some of Fantasyland's new areas open early

Weeks ahead of its announced "soft opening," Walt Disney World quietly allowed guests into new portions of the Fantasyland expansion Friday for what it called a "dress rehearsal," the Orlando Sentinel reported.

Under the Sea — Journey of the Little Mermaid, Enchanted Tales With Belle, Ariel's Grotto, Gaston's Tavern and Bonjour! Village Gifts had been scheduled for a "soft opening" beginning Nov. 19. However, guests already were exploring these attractions Friday. The Be Our Guest restaurant was not open, although folks poked their heads through the iron gates and took pictures of its crowning architecture, Beast's Castle.

There are no guarantees as to when or if the new Magic Kingdom attractions will be open on a daily basis before Nov. 19, a Disney spokesman said Friday. The grand opening is set for Dec. 6.


Family of trapped man eager for progress

It's been two days since the floors and trusses of a Miami Dade College West Campus parking garage collapsed, killing three, hospitalizing seven and trapping Robert Budhoo beneath an unstable pile of rubble.

And with sunset in sight, and little activity to show that an ongoing recovery mission is indeed ongoing, Budhoo's family vented Friday afternoon, the Miami Herald reported.

"My brother is still down there," said Henrietta Robinson, Budhoo's older sister. "For the other man they worked until 1:30 (a.m.) but for my brother they couldn't use lights? They told my brother Donovan that whoever is down there is dead; if that's so then take him out if he's dead or alive. It's been three days."

Budhoo, an electrician, according to his family, was working at the college campus in Doral Wednesday when the final quadrant of the five-story project collapsed. Levels of the northeast section slammed down on each other, trapping workers beneath.

Authorities do not believe Budhoo, 53, survived.

"We have an idea where he is but he is still buried in that rubble . . . our dogs hit on him," said Detective Javier Baez, spokesman for Miami-Dade police. "We will continue searching until we find him."

Budhoo's large family, many of whom are staying at a nearby Hampton Inn, has for the last two days huddled and waited for news that he had been found, hopefully alive. The wait has been frustrating for his family, who have not been allowed close to the site.

Bubba Wallace emotional after Daytona 500 runner-up finish

Bubba Wallace emotional after Daytona 500 runner-up finish

DAYTONA BEACH – No, Bubba Wallace did not win the 60th running of the Daytona 500.But you wouldn't have known that after seeing his emotions after he placed second – the highest finish ever by a black driver in the Great American Race.Wal...
Updated: 3 hours ago
After Irma evacuation gridlock, new energy for Interstate 75 options

After Irma evacuation gridlock, new energy for Interstate 75 options

OCALA — In mid-2016, a regional task force that spent almost two years exploring ways to improve safety on a crowded Interstate 75 decided to take a conservative approach: make changes to the highway rather than build or expand other roads. Then Hurr...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Austin Dillon wins Daytona 500 after Aric Almirola wrecks late

Austin Dillon wins Daytona 500 after Aric Almirola wrecks late

DAYTONA BEACH – As Austin Dillon celebrated his Daytona 500 win Sunday, he couldn't help but remember the time he was standing there, in Victory Lane, 20 years ago this week.He was 7 then, and his index finger jutted into the air triumphantly t...
Updated: 4 hours ago
‘We had this monster living under our roof and we didn’t know.’

‘We had this monster living under our roof and we didn’t know.’

Nikolas Cruz was immature, quirky and depressed when James and Kimberly Snead took him into their Parkland home. But he was pleasant and seemed to be growing happier, they said.How the 19-year-old turned into a man now arrested and charged with 17 co...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Open-mic night at Pilars is a hot spot for Disney talent

WINTER GARDEN — At the end of the day, when the tourists are gone, Disney performers head out to their favorite spot to keep on singing after their shifts are over. Every Thursday, they perform at open-mic night at Pilars, a Winter Garden martini bar...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Broward program will give small-time offenders a big break

Broward program will give small-time offenders a big break

FORT LAUDERDALE — Pot smokers aren’t the only law breakers able to get a second chance in South Florida. Underage adults buying alcohol, those stealing property worth less than $300 and people nabbed for trespassing, loitering or disorderly conduct a...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Facebook turns to postcards to snuff foreign ads

MENLO PARK, Calif. — Facebook will soon rely on centuries-old technology to try to prevent foreign meddling in U.S. elections: the post office. Baffled in 2016 by Russian agents who bought ads to try to sway the U.S. presidential campaign, Facebook’s...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Parkland students to march on Florida Capitol to demand changes to gun laws

Parkland students to march on Florida Capitol to demand changes to gun laws

TALLAHASSEEAhundred students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland will travel to Tallahassee for a march on the state Capitol on Wednesday in the first organized protest of their #NeverAgain movement.Their demand: that Florida legisl...
Updated: 5 hours ago
EPA chief Pruitt cancels visit to Israel

EPA chief Pruitt cancels visit to Israel

WASHINGTON — Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has canceled a nearly weeklong trip to Israel, agency officials confirmed Sunday.Pruitt, who had been scheduled to leave this past weekend for an extensive tour of the Mideast al...
Updated: 5 hours ago
As victims are mourned in Florida, a search for solace, and action

As victims are mourned in Florida, a search for solace, and action

PARKLAND — On the Sunday after Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School lost 17 of its own, a minister in Parkland implored his flock not to let the horrific shootings lead them away from their faith."Our world is broken, but Jesus is not," the Rev. Eddi...
Updated: 5 hours ago