03/09/14 Human Interest
TAMPA — From inside jail walls, Ali Shabazz saw opportunity instead of inconvenience.
On Sept. 1, Hillsborough's jails started prohibiting letters for inmates. Postcards only, they said. So Shabazz, 38, decided to start a website where inmates' loved ones could type messages. He'd print them on postcards and mail them for $2.50 each.
When he got out of jail on Oct. 21, after serving time for violating probation on previous petty theft and fraud charges, Shabazz raced ahead. Before leaving the jail grounds, he paid $7.80 for the names of every inmate in jail — his new target audience....
TAMPA — Deputies were searching Thursday for a man who pretended to be a law enforcement officer when he pulled over a 28-year-old woman near Town 'N Country.
About 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, the woman was on her way to the bank when she saw a Ford Expedition behind her with a flashing blue light on its dashboard, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.
She pulled into the Grow Financial Federal Credit Union parking lot, 8314 Sheldon Road, and a man exited, approached her car and started yelling at her....
03/06/14 Public Safety
TAMPA — An inmate at the Orient Road Jail escaped Thursday morning but was later recaptured at a nearby gas station, deputies said.
Jeffrey Robert Stafford, 48, was being held in Hillsborough County on a Polk County warrant for reckless driving. About 8:45 a.m., deputies were getting ready to transfer him to Polk.
That's when, deputies say, he entered a vestibule with another inmate who was being legitimately released. Stafford exited the vestibule with that person and left through the jail lobby....
03/06/14 Public Safety
TAMPA — Authorities evacuated two homes Thursday morning after finding a possible sinkhole at the Breezewood Mobile Home Park just north of Tampa.
About 10:30 a.m., firefighters were called to the park, 1701 Skipper Road, where they found a 6-by-9-foot depression between two mobile homes.
They evacuated those two homes and Tampa Electric and code enforcement officials were called to the scene, said Hillsborough County Fire Rescue spokeswoman Nacole Revette....
BRANDON — Deputies released video of Monday's chase that ended inside the Dillard's store at Westfield Brandon mall.
The pursuit began in Manatee County, where three young men are accused of burglarizing a home. Officials say they then took off in a stolen 2014 Hyundai and headed north into Hillsborough County shortly after noon.
A Hillsborough sheriff's helicopter followed as authorities gave chase on Interstate 75. On the interstate, just south of State Road 60, the driver of the Hyundai tried to leave the interstate but skidded off the road....
BRANDON — A chase that began in Manatee County ended inside the Westfield Brandon shopping mall Monday after three burglary suspects headed north to Hillsborough County, authorities said.
The pursuit began about noon, when Manatee sheriff's deputies got a call about a burglary in progress in Palmetto. A deputy arrived to find at least two people leaving a house. When the deputy tried to talk to them, they fled in a 2014 Hyundai that had been stolen in Hillsborough County, the Manatee County Sheriff's Office said....
03/01/14 Public Safety
TAMPA — Nearly four years after authorities waged an unprecedented manhunt for Tampa cop killer Dontae Morris, a fundamental question remains:
How did they capture him?
Morris' crimes, imprisonment and trials have been extensively reported, but police have never said how he ended up in a South Tampa law office four days after he fatally shot two Tampa police officers in June 2010. For years, police simply said Morris turned himself in through a third party at the office of Fernandez Larkin & Garcia PA....
TAMPA — Police arrested a second man Friday in the December slaying of a Yellow Cab driver.
Landrick D. Edwards, 24, known as "Fat Cat," faces charges of first-degree murder and attempted robbery with a firearm. He has been in jail since Dec. 12 — four days after the death of John Dooley, 56 — because, police say, he violated probation for an attempted-murder conviction....
TEMPLE TERRACE — A Temple Terrace man was shot and injured in a parking lot Wednesday, and police were searching for the men he was fighting with beforehand.
Ronald McClendon II, 38, was described Thursday as stable, according to the Temple Terrace Police Department.
The shooting happened about 3:45 p.m. in the parking lot separating the Sweetbay Supermarket on 56th Street and Doral Oaks from the apartment complex where McClendon lives, police said....
TAMPA — Police have arrested a 35-year-old man they say raped a 6-year-old girl in his care in 2010.
David Francis-Brewster Mace was arrested Wednesday in West Palm Beach, according to Tampa police. He faces one count of capital sexual battery.
Police started investigating after getting a tip from the girl's family in June 2012. Detectives say they learned that Mace sexually battered the girl and gave her $60 to not tell anyone. Eventually, after consulting with prosecutors, authorities got a warrant for Mace's arrest....
02/26/14 Public Safety
TAMPA — A Hillsborough sheriff's deputy used a Taser on a 14-year-old McLane Middle School student on Tuesday during a fight at the Brandon school.
The brawl started about 4:15 p.m. between two teenage girls at the school bus ramp. School Resource Deputy Chad Keen tried to separate them, but his efforts — both physical and verbal — didn't work, according to the Sheriff's Office....
TAMPA — Deputies say Keith Lukas called sheriff's dispatchers nearly 3,000 times in a year-and-a-half, each time harassing and belittling them. On Tuesday, he was convicted on one count of making "repeated harassing phone calls," the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office says.
It was the conclusion that deputies were hoping to see. They filed a complaint with prosecutors after being inundated by calls from Lukas to a non-emergency line between May 2012 and December 2013....
02/19/14 Public Safety
TAMPA — A pedestrian is dead after being hit by a vehicle near the intersection of Florida and Fletcher avenues in Tampa, deputies say.
The crash happened around 2:33 p.m., and deputies expect that Florida, between 131st and Fletcher avenues, will be closed the remainder of Wednesday afternoon as the Florida Highway Patrol investigates.
According to FHP, Timothy Harvey Danenhower, 41, was traveling northbound on Florida in a truck towing a trailer loaded with a tractor. The pedestrian, 64, was on the east shoulder sidewalk and started walking west across the street before being struck by the truck's passenger side....
02/18/14 Human Interest
TAMPA — Some blamed the Sheriff's Office, some blamed the schools. Many blamed the parents of misbehaving youths. Others said Tampa's churches need to be more involved.
All agreed that mass chaos at the Florida State Fair cannot happen again.
About 100 people gathered at Beulah Baptist Institutional Church on Tuesday evening to learn more about the Feb. 7 scene at the fair from the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. Col. Jim Previtera described groups of more than 100 teens stampeding through the fair, breaking into fights and terrifying vendors....
TAMPA — A Tampa man has been charged with manslaughter after an investigation revealed that he beat his roommate to death after a disagreement about a chicken foot, Tampa police said.
James Jugo, 52, admitted in an interview with detectives on Saturday that he beat his roommate, 56-year-old Benjamin Calderon, with his fist after an argument about some stolen food, police said.
The fight started earlier, when Jugo took a chicken foot from a skillet as Calderon cooked in the apartment they shared at 8722 N 48th Street, police said....