Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Public safety

Violent episode in Pasco highlights dangers of spice

NEW PORT RICHEY — Pinellas sheriff's Deputy Charles Redinger had just finished his shift Thursday afternoon. He drove his cruiser to his house in New Port Richey and sat in the driveway to complete paperwork.

Suddenly he faced a loud challenge: "Fight me, … !''

Redinger got out of his car and met a teenager who swung at him and missed. They grappled and the deputy handcuffed him and placed him in the back of his patrol car.

The teen, later identified as Julian Hayes, 17, who lives in the same Nature's Hideaway subdivision, kicked out the right rear window as Redinger summoned backup from Pasco County deputies. Hayes wriggled his hands in front of him, screamed and spit blood at them through the missing window, they reported.

As the deputies removed him from the car to reposition the handcuffs, he fought, according to a report. They used Tasers and pepper spray to subdue him until an ambulance took him to All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg after he told them he had smoked a synthetic drug known as spice.

"It demonstrates to every parent … about why we take it so seriously about getting spice off our streets," Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco said on Friday. "You can take an average teen boy … and now he's going to have a felony record and maybe time in prison."

Hayes was charged with auto burglary, assaulting a deputy, resisting arrest and criminal mischief.

Doug Leonardo, executive director of Baycare Behavioral Health, said the behaviors described match what he usually sees in patients: the depravity, the paranoia and violence.

"Synthetic marijuana," he said, is a misnomer for the drug. Because manufacturers spray the leafy substance with a host of chemicals, the reactions vary. It's closer to a hallucinogen, he said.

Leonardo said he has seen patients lose eyesight and hearing. Some experience heart attack-like symptoms.

"You smoke this stuff one time," he said, "and you don't know what's going to happen. You don't know what the effect is going to be.

"Kids think that because they can get (spice) in a convenience store, that it's legal and it's not going to hurt them. And nothing could be further from the truth.''

For more than a year, Nocco has pushed for legislation to keep spice out of stores. Pasco commissioners approved the Synthetic Drug Ordinance, which hit sellers in the wallet and pegged the drugs for their packaging: "items described by misleading packaging such as 'potpourri,' 'synthetic marijuana,' or 'synthetic drugs.' " Convenience store owners caught carrying the drugs have been fined $500 per package. One store owner last month was fined $23,500.

State legislation went after the contents of the packages, outlawing the chemicals on broader terms to keep manufacturers from tweaking ingredients to avoid prosecution.

Nocco has publicly shamed a handful of convenience store owners caught selling the drugs, leading them in handcuffs in front of reporters and photographers. Mostly, he said, his strategies have worked to get the drugs out of stores, but have driven the trade underground. Friends sell to friends out of homes. He worries they'll sell at schools.

Comments

St. Pete officer suspended for month after pushing concert guard

ST. PETERSBURG — A police officer was suspended for a month after he pushed a security guard at a summer concert in Tampa, according to St. Petersburg police.It could have been worse: Chief Tony Holloway determined Officer Curtis Wright could have be...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Casino boat operator in fatal fire had maintenance, safety issues before earlier blaze

Casino boat operator in fatal fire had maintenance, safety issues before earlier blaze

PORT RICHEY — The casino boat operator whose shuttle caught fire Sunday, leaving one passenger dead, says it does not know what could have caused the blaze.But federal records show the company, now called Tropical Breeze Casino Cruz, had another boat...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Hillsborough County firefighter gets the ax after investigators find ties to motorcycle gang

Hillsborough County firefighter gets the ax after investigators find ties to motorcycle gang

TAMPA — Hillsborough County officials fired a Fire Rescue medic Tuesday after an internal investigation concluded he had "unwavering loyalty" to the Outlaws Motorcycle Club — the state’s dominant biker gang.Clinton Neal Walker, 33, of Bradenton is th...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Man shot, runs for help to Bahama Breeze with suspects following

TAMPA — Attackers shot a Tampa man Monday night as he sat in his car then chased him as he fled to a nearby restaurant to get help, Tampa police said.The victim was taken to a hospital with injuries that were not life threatening.The incident occurre...
Updated: 8 hours ago

Man pistol-whipped resisting home invasion in Wimauma

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s office is looking for three men who broke into a Wimauma mobile home Tuesday morning, beat one of the residents with a pistol, stole cash and carjacked a vehicle to make their getaway.The incident occurred around 5:4...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Here’s the backstory of the Pasco casino boat operator whose ship caught on fire

Here’s the backstory of the Pasco casino boat operator whose ship caught on fire

By Zachary T. SampsonTimes Staff WriterLong before a shuttle ship from Tropical Breeze Casino caught fire Sunday off the coast of Port Richey, leaving one passenger dead, the company behind the operation was a source of controversy.The casino operato...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Florida love triangle led to a murder-for-hire plot, police say. But the wrong woman was killed.

Florida love triangle led to a murder-for-hire plot, police say. But the wrong woman was killed.

Heartbreak and jealously were the twin engines driving the scheme, police would later say. Ishnar Marie Lopez-Ramos was in love. The object of the 35-year-old Floridian’s affection, however, was tangled up with another woman. To solve her hear...
Published: 01/16/18

Florida boy, 6, dies of rabies contracted from a bat

ORLANDO — A 6-year-old Florida boy has died from rabies he contracted after being scratched by an infected bat.The father of Ryker Roque told NBC that the boy died Sunday at an Orlando hospital.Father Henry Roque said he had found a sick bat, put it ...
Published: 01/16/18

Pasco man fatally struck on Interstate 70 in Kansas

SALINA, Kan. — The Kansas Highway Patrol says a Florida man died after he was hit by a car as he walked along Interstate 70 near Salina.The patrol says 35-year-old Cody Nordlund of New Port Richey died Sunday night.He was walking in an eastbound lane...
Published: 01/16/18
Drone sightings sparking increasing concern locally

Drone sightings sparking increasing concern locally

TAMPA — Shortly before Christmas, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s pilot Jason Doyle was flying a department helicopter over east Hillsborough when he saw the lights of a drone. It was about 800 feet below him and a half-mile away, and quite bright, sai...
Published: 01/16/18