TAMPA — In the 1980s and '90s, the Outlaws Motorcycle Club was the alpha biker gang in Florida, responsible for drug dealing and gun running, decapitations and torture. Then its leadership was decimated by a series of prosecutions, and the gang seemed to slip quietly out of sight.
But after the May 17 massacre in Waco, Texas, when a battle involving as many as six biker gangs resulted in nine deaths and 170 arrests, a disquieting truth emerged: Biker gangs remain dangerous and widespread, including here in the Sunshine State....
ST. PETERSBURG — A man who had been the subject of a manhunt that started Friday with a carjacking in Polk County committed suicide Saturday morning in St. Petersburg, authorities said.
Sloan Aaron Maybeck, 44, was found dead about 6 a.m. behind a fishing bait shop and a 7-Eleven store at 6161 Fourth St. N. He appeared to have hanged himself with a belt, police said.
Maybeck had been sought since late Friday afternoon, when he stole a car from a Bartow convenience store, according to the Polk County Sheriff's Office. Inside the car were a 1-year-old baby and a 30-year-old autistic man. Witnesses told sheriff's deputies that Maybeck had been at the store in the 3800 block of E State Road 60 in Bartow for a few hours. He was seen carrying a suitcase....
TAMPA — Tampa police are trying to identify two people who carjacked a man at Tuesday at a Waters Avenue gas station.
A video of the crime, captured on a surveillance camera, was released Wednesday.
Edgardo Luis Cruz Medina, 36, parked his car next to a gas pump about 2:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Sunoco station at 1403 W Waters Ave., Tampa police said. As he walked inside to pay for gas, two men ran up to the car. One hopped into the driver's seat, while the other tried to open a passenger door....
CLEARWATER — The former head of the Tampa police DUI unit told officers on two different nights to look for C. Philip Campbell, the attorney whose arrest in 2013 touched off a scandal that threatens to cost three rival attorneys their law licenses, officers testified Friday.
One was Jan. 23, 2013, the night of Campbell's arrest. But one was more than a month before, in November 2012, when an officer said he went looking for Campbell at the direction of then-police Sgt. Ray Fernandez....
TAMPA — A man was jailed Wednesday on an attempted murder charge in connection with a shooting two months ago in east Tampa.
Anthony C. Edwards, 36, was arrested on a warrant Thursday afternoon charging him with the March 1 shooting of John Render, 30, at Rim Masters, a business at 4709 E Hillsborough Ave.
It was unclear what led police to tie Edwards to the shooting and why it took more than two months for an arrest....
05/13/15 Public Safety
TAMPA — They call Eric Ward the quiet storm. And if his first few days as Tampa's police chief are any indication, that will sum up his approach to the job.
Ward, who became the department's interim chief last week after the retirement of Jane Castor, says he has spent his first days examining all aspects of his agency's operations. That includes meeting with every supervisor, from sergeants and lieutenants on up. He has mostly stayed out of the public spotlight, but on Wednesday he answered questions in a blitz of one-on-one meetings with local news reporters....
TAMPA — Cynthia Wheaton was 28 and helped manage the popular Tex Mex Cantina on the Courtney Campbell Causeway. Cheryl McMullen was 33 and worked as the night manager at Bennigan's in Carrollwood.
Twenty-five years ago this week, both women were killed. Despite exhaustive investigations, their cases remain unsolved.
The pair are linked by little more than what they did for a living and when and how they died. Despite the similarities, investigators think the crimes were the work of separate killers....
TEMPLE TERRACE — A 7-year-old girl died after she was thrown from a car Saturday night in a crash that also killed the driver of a pickup.
The accident left Desiree Gilley, who was finishing first grade at Lewis Elementary School, brain dead, clinging to life for hours at Tampa General Hospital before her family decided to take her off life support, said her father, Donald Gilley.
Jeffrey Lamar Wade, 49, the driver of the pickup, died at the scene. ...
TAMPA — A gang rivalry was to blame for a pair of shootings in the Sulphur Springs area Saturday that left one man wounded, according to Tampa police. Three men were arrested the same afternoon.
Officers first received a call of shots being fired about 3 p.m. near some apartments at 8404 N 18th St. From interviews of witnesses, they learned that someone in a black sport utility vehicle had driven past the apartments and fired a gun from a window, police said. The shots were aimed at Lamalcodel Freeman, 18, who was described as initially not cooperative with officers....
BRANDON — A man who left state prison Friday was back in jail Saturday, accused of sexually assaulting a Brandon woman who had given him a place to stay.
Ryan Wesley Reese was the subject of a brief manhunt Saturday after the woman escaped and notified authorities. He was arrested on sexual battery and kidnapping charges.
Reese, 39, was released from prison Friday after serving eight months for a probation violation. It was the latest in a lengthy string of prison stints that Reese has served over the years for convictions ranging from burglary and grand theft to false imprisonment and intimidating a witness....
05/01/15 Public Safety
TAMPA — As a young man, Eric Ward had much in common with other black men who grow up in east Tampa and struggle to make it out.
He was raised by a single mother. Part of his childhood was spent in public housing. As a young teen, his mother recalls, he had a less-than-cordial encounter with a Tampa police officer.
So what made the difference for Ward? How did he end up being named this week as Tampa's next police chief?...
04/30/15 Public Safety
TAMPA — At a time when police relationships with the black community are driving a national conversation, Mayor Bob Buckhorn on Thursday made Eric Ward, an African-American and east Tampa native, the city's next police chief.
Ward, a 26-year Tampa police veteran, will succeed Chief Jane Castor upon her May 8 retirement.
"Eric Ward is the right person at the right time for the Tampa Police Department," Buckhorn said, adding that he represents a "new generation of leadership" at the 1,000-officer agency....
TAMPA — Two members of a Hillsborough County street gang that was the target of a 10-month investigation two years ago have been sentenced to prison after being convicted of racketeering charges.
Joseph Rondon, 26, and his brother, Jonathan Rondon, 29, were members of the Nortenos street gang, also known as Norte 14. On Tuesday, they were sentenced to 15 and seven years in prison, respectively....
TAMPA — A monthslong sex trafficking investigation has led to the arrest of a Tampa man who is accused of forcing a 16-year-old girl into prostitution, according to police.
Dewey James Hendrix, 38, faces charges of unlawful sexual activity with a minor, forcing another to become a prostitute, battery, and deriving support from proceeds of prostitution.
Detectives have been investigating the relationship between Hendrix and the 16-year-old for some time, police said. Her identity was not released due to the nature of the investigation. The two have been in a relationship as boyfriend and girlfriend for seven months, according to a police report....
TAMPA — Sitting on the front porch of her east Tampa home, Eva Bulmer spoke Monday about the gun violence that has struck her family three times in less than a year.
First there was her grandson, George Oglesby, who survived after he was shot several times last summer on a short street lined with low-rent apartments on the city's eastern edge.
Two weeks ago, a couple blocks away, two bullets knocked his older brother, Jarrod Coachman, off a motorbike. Before he died, Coachman told the cops who did it. They made an arrest. But the shooting didn't stop....