04/29/16 Public Safety
BRANDON — A massive 19-hour search for four young girls who vanished from a Brandon foster care facility came to an abrupt end Friday night after they were caught trying to sneak back in, authorities said.
Just after 7 p.m., the girls, ages 4 to 13, were seen trying to scale a fence behind A Kid's Place, the foster care facility on Lithia Pinecrest Road, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office....
Prosecutors have upgraded criminal charges against a Wimauma man who now stands accused of first-degree felony murder in a 2014 beating death.
Erin Lee Lavon Robinson, 20, previously faced a charge of manslaughter in the death of 58-year-old Raul Ortiz. But subsequent legal challenges — namely, his arguments that the killing was justified under Florida's so-called "stand your ground" law — produced new evidence in the case....
About 40 people circled the bricks Thursday night in front of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Operations Center in Ybor City. They held signs bearing messages like “Stop criminalizing our children” and wore T-shirts with words reflective of the message: “Say yes to second chances.”
They chanted: “Justice for our children!”...
VALRICO — In the moonlit parking lot, two men gripped guns as they argued.
Logan Schwab, who had been drinking for hours, held a handgun behind his back, witnesses told Hillsborough sheriff's deputies. In front of him, Evan Godwin stood backed against a car, a holstered gun at his side.
It was early Thursday morning outside the One Night Stand bar on State Road 60.
A man stepped between the two, trying to quell the dispute. He was facing Godwin when a gunshot blasted past his ear. Godwin, 25, fell against a car, dropping his weapon....
TAMPA — A 30-year-old man was arrested on a charge of DUI manslaughter Monday stemming from a fatal October traffic crash near Temple Terrace.
A Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office investigation found that Jason Cedric Lucas, 40, had a blood-alcohol level of 0.09 more than three hours after deputies said he crashed a Jeep Grand Cherokee into a tree, killing a woman and injuring another man who were riding with him. State law presumes a driver is impaired at a level greater than 0.08....
TAMPA — More than 100 people filled the auditorium of Blake High School on Monday night to hear a panel of community leaders, educators and students talk about bullying.
They spoke of ending bullying entirely. They spoke of the importance of students speaking up — to teachers, to school administrators, even to law enforcement — if they feel targeted.
But when the panel turned to the audience for questions, the complexity of solving this problem became apparent....
PLANT CITY — Police have arrested a second man in the April 8 fatal shooting of a Michigan man during a failed robbery attempt at a gas station.
Al'kwaun Ty'relle Nakiss Dixon, 18, was arrested Sunday on charges of first-degree felony murder and armed robbery in connection with the shooting of Michael Joseph Beson, 67, who was killed at the Mobil station at 2010 N Wheeler St.
Dixon is the second man linked to Beson's death after the April 11 arrest of Xavier Quesean Smith, 19. Plant City police have not said which man shot Beson....
DOVER — The cows had been mooing for days. Envelopes piled atop the mailbox outside John and Nancy Engelhart's 10-acre spread on McIntosh Road. Their phone, attached to an outdoor ringer, rang and rang.
On Thursday, neighbors began asking each other if anyone had seen the retirees. They phoned the couple's niece in Atlanta, who hadn't heard from them either. Someone called the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office....
PLANT CITY — Police believe a second man was involved in a pair of botched robberies that led to Friday night's fatal shooting of a Michigan man outside a gas station.
Xavier Quesean Smith, 19, remained in jail Tuesday in the slaying of 67-year-old Michael Joseph Beson, a Michigan native who spent his winters in Plant City.
Plant City police would not discuss the second man on Tuesday, or if they've identified the accomplice. But they are trying to find him, said Sgt. Alfred Van Duyne....
After three teens died when the stolen car they were riding in plunged into a St. Petersburg pond two weeks ago, Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri decried what he called an "epidemic."
That epidemic is juvenile auto theft. It's an old problem, one law enforcement agencies tackle continuously, but one that tends not to draw much public attention — at least not until one of those thefts ends in tragedy....
TAMPA — The man accused of running over the foot of a Hillsborough sheriff's deputy was arrested Friday after a daylong search.
Christopher Labissiere, 24, was identified as the man who fled from Deputy Thomas Paradiso early Friday morning in a neighborhood east of Temple Terrace, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. Labissiere was later arrested in Seffner on charges that included aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer and leaving the scene of an accident....
TAMPA — A disturbance call in a Carrollwood neighborhood led two Hillsborough sheriff's deputies to engage in a gun battle Thursday afternoon that left their armed assailant wounded.
"The deputies were very lucky they were not struck," said Hillsborough sheriff's Col. Donna Lusczynski, noting that more than 20 gunshots were fired.
It happened after a woman called 911 about 2:10 p.m. to report the disturbance at 11010 Streamside Drive, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. The woman who called was not identified, and details about the call were not released, but she did report that a man was armed with a handgun....
04/06/16 Public Safety
TAMPA — Mary O'Connor, one of two assistant police chiefs and the highest ranking woman at the Tampa Police Department, will retire next month.
O'Connor, 45, said Wednesday she will leave the job May 13 in order to spend more time with her 14-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter. She has spent 22 years with the Tampa police, the last year as assistant chief of operations.
"It was a position that I was thrilled to be asked to do," O'Connor said. "I gave it my all. It's been a very rewarding year, but there has been some sacrifices that I've had to make." ...
Hundreds of people crowded an event room Monday night at St. Lawrence Catholic Church's Higgins Hall to demand social change from their elected leaders.
The Nehemiah Action, a community event put together by a coalition of local religious groups known as the Hillsborough Organization for Progress and Equality — HOPE — sought to have a new Tampa civil citation program for adults caught with small amounts of marijuana extended to juveniles....
The other day, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office put out a news release saying that crime last year went down. Specifically, “the overall crime rate in 2015 was reduced by 3 percent,” according to the release. “The violent crime rate is the lowest in Hillsborough County since 1985.”
At first glance, these stats appear to conflict with what sheriff’s officials said just last month....