TAMPA — An hour before she died, Ivonne Rivera-Ramis bought two large orders of fries.
"She was fine," said Natori Ferrell, a manager at the McDonald's in Palm River.
It was busy Thursday night, Ferrell said, and no one much paid attention to where the woman went after she left.
But they couldn't ignore the commotion when deputies later arrived.
In the parking lot, they pulled Rivera-Ramis from the driver's seat of a white Hyundai. A man in a white striped shirt paced nearby, a phone to his ear....
TAMPA — Flames erupted Wednesday at a Town 'N Country mosque for the second time in 10 days, leaving local and federal investigators looking for answers.
Electricity got the blame for a July 17 fire at the Islamic Education Center on Rockpointe Drive, but a mosque official discounted that possibility this time, saying power had been cut off since the earlier blaze.
"Who would want to burn a burned place?" said board member Sallah Harake, puzzled. "Hopefully it's just a coincidence."...
TAMPA — The day before Alica Fussell was shot to death outside a Tampa liquor store, Antwoine Noland was supposed to appear in court on charges that he had shot her in January.
He never showed up. An arrest warrant was issued. Less than 48 hours later, Fussell was killed.
Detectives now want to question Noland about Fussell's death this week. She was shot Tuesday night outside City Liquors at 9403 N Nebraska Ave. No one has been charged with her murder, but police are asking for the public's help in locating Noland....
TOWN 'N COUNTRY — The smell of charred wood still hangs on the musty air inside the little mosque off George Road. On Thursday morning, leaders of the Muslim worship space strolled over soggy carpets, past scorched walls and under caved ceilings, surveying what remained after a Monday afternoon fire.
"We love this place really," said Jabbar Al-Mashahdani, a board member of the Islamic Education Center. "It has an effect on our heart. All our community, they like this place. They love this place."...
07/19/16 Public Safety
St. Petersburg police Chief Tony Holloway lost friends when he became a cop. He knows some people hate him for being one.
"They don't see me as a black man, they see me as a police officer," he said. "You're working for the man."
As a national race and policing debate swells, Holloway and other black officers find themselves in a thorny middle ground between a fiercely loyal law enforcement community and some minorities that do not trust authorities....
Late one night in April, Hillsborough sheriff's Lt. Dennis Fogarty was about to get into his patrol cruiser when he heard four distant — but distinct — popping sounds from his perch off E Fletcher Avenue.
He paused, then looked at his watch.
It took 32 seconds for the alert to sound on his in-car laptop.
Four gunshots. The computer pinpointed them at N 19th Street, five blocks south....
TAMPA — The 9-year-old boy sat beside the woman he called grandma in the back of the blue Honda Civic, playing a video game on her phone. The smell of pasteles, a cherished dish of the family's native Puerto Rico, filled the car. Maria Rivera-Contreras had cooked them for a family friend.
It was her first night in Tampa, her new home.
Her great-nephew, Jeanny Manuel, turned to show her his high score....
A consortium of 22 media organizations filed a lawsuit Thursday against the city of Orlando over its refusal to release full transcripts of the 911 calls made the night of the Pulse nightclub shooting.
More than a week after the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history, in which 49 people were killed, most of what was recorded in the calls that both the shooter and club patrons made the morning of June 12 is still shielded from public view....
ORLANDO – Early last Sunday morning, Sophia Ansari joined about 60 Muslim women in downtown Orlando to pass out meals and toiletries to the homeless, a volunteer effort they do each year in the holy month of Ramadan. Before leaving home that morning, many had heard about the shooting that was happening nearby.
About 10 a.m., cellphones began to buzz. The shooter had been identified as a Muslim man. It was being called a terror attack....
ORLANDO — As firefighters and paramedics worked feverishly to try to save the victims of Sunday's massacre, Orlando Fire District Chief Bryan Davis watched as they made the grimmest decision of all:
Who got a red tag and who got a black tag.
Red tags went to gunshot victims who could be saved. They were rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery.
Black tags went to the dead....
06/16/16 Public Safety
ORLANDO — Authorities have kept the body of the man behind a terror attack at a gay nightclub Sunday away from those of the 49 people he killed, according to Dr. Joshua Stephany, Orange County's chief medical examiner.
"This is not a law or requirement, but was rather done out of respect for the victims and their families so that the shooter may never be near the 49 beautiful souls again," he said in a statement....
06/10/16 Public Safety
TAMPA — This week the Tampa Police Department held three community forums so the public could respond to a Department of Justice report that examined racial disparities in the city's issuance of bicycle citations.
The first two meetings, held Tuesday in West Tampa and Wednesday in north Tampa, were sparsely attended.
Then came Thursday's meeting at Middleton High School, in the heart of east Tampa....
RUSKIN — Matthew Crane was at the wheel of a semitrailer truck early Friday morning heading north on a dark stretch of interstate when a pair of headlights drifted into view.
He couldn't make out what kind of vehicle it was or how fast it was moving. But as the lights grew bigger, he knew it was heading toward him.
"Now, he's coming into my lane," Crane said later. "This ain't good."...
TAMPA — A harrowing scene unfolded as a fire broke out at an apartment complex Wednesday afternoon: witnesses said an elderly resident was trapped in her upstairs unit as flames billowed from the apartment next door.
She was saved thanks to some quick-thinking bystanders.
Three maintenance men climbed up to her balcony, a witness said, then coaxed her to climb over the railing and safely lowered her down to another group on the ground....
Leo Potts and Nancy Bowman rode atop tricycles Monday afternoon through the ankle-deep water on Shore Boulevard in Gulfport. Nearby, reams of seaweed piled against doorways of beachside motel rooms.
They said they considered kayaks, but, by the afternoon, the wind was too tough for paddling.
"Gulfport always floods like this," Bowman said. "Any time there's a storm. We're not worried."...