Isaiah Battle believes in heaven. When he pictures it, everything is gold, everyone sitting on couches among clouds. He is not sure if people in heaven have to share rooms. But if they do, he hopes he can share one with his sister, Dominique.
They shared one on earth, in St. Petersburg, back before she drowned in a stolen car in a cemetery pond. Two beds where they'd lie side by side and joke about their boyfriends, girlfriends, school. Smoke weed and watch whatever was on TV. Tell each other I love you before lights out each night....
08/09/17 Public Safety
She closes her eyes and sees them clearly, the first moments of Jimmie Goshey's life.
Shalanda Marshall had gone to the hospital early, throwing up, the baby pushing hard. But the doctors said he was hours away, so she sent her daughters home to get things ready for Jimmie.
Then, all of a sudden he was coming, fast. "You better get back here or you're going to miss it," she told her daughters, but by the time they got up the elevator and to the door, Jimmie was born....
The last thing Keondrae Brown remembers before he blacked out is lying in shattered glass on Tampa Road, next to the burning wreckage of a stolen car, lucky to be alive after a high-speed crash that killed his brother and two of his friends.
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri held a news conference Monday afternoon in which he showed dash-cam footage from the first officer to respond to the Palm Harbor crash. Here is some of what he said in the news conference:
08/07/17 Public Safety
CLEARWATER — Ricky Melendez pulled himself out of bed when his alarm went off at 4 a.m. It was time to start a day that would nearly end his life.
He let his 4-month-old Lab puppy, Mila, out of her crate as he brushed his teeth and got dressed for work. The 29-year-old was a bit tired, having spent the previous day at a water park in Orlando with his cousin and his brother. But he was excited to get to his new job at Sprouts Farmers Market in Palm Harbor, where he was the dairy manager. He was trying to get the nickname "The Milkman" to catch on....
Deyon Kaigler said in December that he was done stealing cars. His friends were still posting videos of high-speed joyrides to Facebook, wearing key fobs on lanyards around their necks. But Deyon, 16, had decided it was too dangerous.
"I value my life," he said. "I'm not trying to be dead."
08/06/17 Public Safety
All six teen boys involved in the stolen car crash that killed three of them on Sunday morning had extensive criminal histories, according to state records.
The four boys in a stolen Ford Explorer that crashed were playing a "cat and mouse" game with two other boys in a stolen Chrysler Sebring, authorities said.
They all attended high schools in Clearwater or Dunedin, a schools spokeswoman said. ...
In the last week of June, bleeding into the first days of July, 20 cars went missing in the city of St. Petersburg. Nearly all were left unlocked, with keys inside — some still jammed in the ignition — the prime targets of juvenile auto thieves.
Police say it's a reminder of the countywide problem documented by the Tampa Bay Times this spring in "Hot Wheels." The series showed that kids in Pinellas crashed stolen cars once every four days in an 18-month period and were arrested more often for stealing cars than anywhere else in Florida....
Hillsborough commissioners, distressed by a Tampa Bay Times report about the juvenile auto theft epidemic in neighboring Pinellas County, ordered the sheriff to provide a rundown of the crime in the Tampa area on Wednesday.
Commissioner Sandy Murman asked the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office to draw up a report on kids stealing cars and potential solutions. She said deputies have seen some teens come from Pinellas to Hillsborough in stolen cars or to break into cars....
U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist on juvenile auto theft: "People are dying because of what's happening here."05/08/17 Public Safety
ST. PETERSBURG — Local leaders said Monday evening that juveniles stealing cars is the number-one public safety threat in Pinellas County and needs to be addressed immediately.
At a meeting convened by U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-St. Petersburg, city and county officials pointed to the Tampa Bay Times' "Hot Wheels" series, which they said drew attention to the dangerous epidemic and brought the problem to the forefront....
U.S. Congressman Charlie Crist is planning to bring community leaders together to discuss the dangerous car theft epidemic perpetrated by juveniles across Pinellas County.
The mayors of St. Petersburg and Clearwater said they would like to be involved and emphasized the need for action.
Crist said that Pinellas needs to find "a better path forward, to put an end to this madness" after reading "Hot Wheels," a two-part Tampa Bay Times series that documented the dangerous crashes and gunplay that threaten the region when juveniles as young as 10 steal cars left unlocked....
It's bad luck to have your car stolen once. But a handful of drivers across Tampa Bay have been repeat victims. Their cars were recovered, but not the keys. So young thieves came back for another joyride.
One St. Petersburg woman had just gotten her car back when it was taken again two days later, still coated in black fingerprint powder.
When police recovered a car stolen from a hospice patient, the 15-year-old suspect laughed and said, "There's about six more (spare keys) out in the streets." ...
Coming back late from a weekend away at a wedding, Robert Vincent and his wife wanted to go to sleep. They unloaded the car in the driveway of their home in St. Petersburg's Fossil Park neighborhood. Call it haste, or exhaustion, but either Vincent or his wife forgot to lock the Subaru Outback.
In the middle of that November night in 2015, while Vincent and his wife were sleeping off their trip, teenagers found keys in the center console....
04/26/17 Public Safety
How can a system allow dozens of kids to be arrested twice for felony grand theft auto, and still go on to steal another car?
Florida's juvenile justice system has undergone drastic reform in the last decade, shifting from locking up kids to giving them counseling, curfews and community service. Many young car thieves are sent home from court, told to follow the rules and stay out of trouble....
04/26/17 Public Safety
Delivery drivers, don't leave your cars running when you make a stop.
A teen in Clearwater stole a Chevy Impala driven by a Domino's Pizza delivery driver, then ditched the light-up sign and her purse in a trash bin.
One boy ordered Chinese food, then hopped in the delivery driver's Toyota Corolla when the man walked to the door.
"I used to get people like that," said Luis Herring Jr., 16, now in prison for carjacking. He would order food to a random address, from a phone number obtained on a computer app....