LITHIA — A Hillsborough sheriff's deputy and a firefighter could find themselves in hot water after some recreational target shooting went awry last weekend.
Sheriff's officials say Scott Radford, 33, of Hillsborough County Fire Rescue, and Hillsborough sheriff's Deputy Paul Adee, 25, were firing guns behind Radford's house when some bullets apparently hit a neighbor's home on the 3800 block of Porter Road in Lithia, a community in east Hillsborough. The properties abut each other....
01/24/15 Human Interest
Amelie Heine had the perfect bead-snagging strategy. • The 5-year-old sat atop her dad's shoulders and let out an ear-splitting scream as Ye Mystic Krewe of Neptune chugged down Bayshore Boulevard. • Seconds later, a string of red plastic beads sailed through the air to land perfectly around her narrow shoulders.
She didn't need to reach out to grab them.
Even her father, Todd Heine, seemed surprised, but he offered a quick explanation....
At John B. Gorrie Elementary School, the school's basement doubled as a Cold War-era fallout shelter. During fire drills, kids scrambled down rickety metal fire escapes.
Students walked more often than rode to school, and they sweated out pre- and post-summer months in classrooms without air-conditioning.
Bonnie Jordan chuckles at the memories of her student days in the 1950s....
01/18/15 Human Interest
Markease Kilpatrick showed up toward the end of lunch service as the last plates of chipotle beef, potatoes and mixed vegetables were being cleared.
Kilpatrick isn't homeless, he said. He's a construction worker between jobs and, for now, "the Trinity" was the place to be for a hot meal, "to get me on my way."
Whatever the reason, hundreds like Kilpatrick line up daily outside the Trinity Cafe food program at 2801 N Nebraska Ave....
TAMPA — Joel Tavera was five months into his deployment in Iraq when a rocket ripped into the vehicle he was riding in, killing everyone except Tavera and another soldier.
Burns covered 60 percent of Tavera's body. Exploding shrapnel and the blast's concussion left him with severe brain trauma that took his sight. His right leg was amputated below the knee. He lost several fingers. Doctors weren't sure he'd survive the trip to a hospital in San Antonio....
TAMPA — The connector road linking Interstate 4 and the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway was supposed to mean an end to semitrailer trucks chugging through Ybor City.
The 1.1-mile road, which opened a year ago this month, was meant to curb big rigs from rumbling along 21st and 22nd streets on their way to Port Tampa Bay, about a mile south. But while fewer of the trucks are cutting through the historic shopping and entertainment district, merchants and others say they still see them....
TAMPA — Casting herself as an advocate for bullying victims, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi told supporters at a pre-inaugural event Saturday that she plans to work to prevent juvenile bullying during her second term.
"We are going to put an end to bullying in the state of Florida," Bondi, a Republican, said at the two-hour event, dubbed "an appreciation" party for family, friends, donors and other Republican supporters....
ST. PETERSBURG — Joao and Arminda Martins were nearly inseparable in their 63 years together.
Immigrants from the same seaside Portuguese village, the couple moved to New Jersey to raise two sons then retired to Largo for the mild winters 20 years ago.
On Friday, the two will be laid to rest together, along with their daughter-in-law, Isabel Martins, 58.
Arminda Martins, 82, lost her fight to survive late Friday at Bayfront Health St. Petersburg, a day after Joao Martins, 84, known as "John" by family members, and Isabel Martins were killed by a wrong-way driver in Seminole....
LARGO — The family devastated by Thursday's wrong-way crash in Seminole says they have received "amazing" support from friends and neighbors.
"It's overwhelming, the outpouring from friends, family and co-workers," John Martins said of reaction to the deaths of his father, Joao "John" Martins, 84, and sister-in-law, Isabel Martins, 58, in a wrong-way crash after a Christmas Eve party. "My co-workers, even the CEO came forward."...
12/25/14 Human Interest
TAMPA — The city streets were quiet on Christmas Day, except for a block of Palm Avenue, where under a large white tent, several hundred of Tampa's poorest residents enjoyed plates of ham and sweet potatoes.
Above them, a televised yule log crackled. Men talked of switching it to sports.
The Christmas meal came courtesy of Metropolitan Ministries and dozens of volunteers, some of whom arrived as early as 5 a.m. to sort gifts and begin preparing food. Organizers estimated this year's charitable effort — by now, a familiar tradition — would feed 2,400 people in Pasco, Hillsborough, and Pinellas counties. ...
This story has been corrected to say this was the 14th and 15th wrong-way fatality this year in the Tampa Bay area.
SEMINOLE — Joao "John" Martins and his wife, Arminda, were inseparable, retirees who left New Jersey's icy winters to bask in sunny Florida.
They especially loved family get-togethers. Christmas Eve sat atop their list, with sons, daughters and grandchildren — a dozen in all — telling stories and enjoying Portuguese classics....
12/23/14 Human Interest
The Plant High cheerleader placed in a medically induced coma after being hit by a pickup while visiting Tallahassee has been moved to a rehabilitation hospital in Atlanta.
Kathy Faircloth said her daughter, 18-year-old Jackie, seems to show signs of progress.
"She is moving her hands and feet a little more today. We continue to pray that she will open her eyes and begin the process of waking up," she wrote in a Facebook posting on Monday. "Thank you for love and prayers."...
12/23/14 Public Safety
TAMPA — The Salvation Army is trying to figure out what to do with an unusually large donation — a cache of gold bars and a gold ring wrapped inside some clothes.
The clothes were dropped off at one of the charity's field boxes in Hillsborough, Pasco or Polk counties, the charity said. Workers found the ring and what was described only as a "generous quantity of gold bars" while sorting donations at the processing warehouse in Tampa, said Maj. Paul McFarland, an administrator....
GIBSONTON — Police officials on Sunday called Marco Parilla Jr. a coward, a bad guy and a cop killer.
The portrayal stunned his family, who described the 23-year-old as "quiet" and "nice," not someone who could possibly gun down a police officer.
"He was a nice kid. I raised him," his aunt, Juana Melendez said between sobs from the front yard of Parilla's family home on the 11000 block of Ekker Road in Gibsonton. "He was not like that. He was a good guy."...
12/19/14 State Roundup
The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday chose not to meddle in Florida's tug-of-war over marriage equality, declining to delay the Jan. 6 start of same-sex vows.
Attorney General Pam Bondi had asked the court to block gay marriage while Florida fights to protect a 2008 constitutional amendment that allows only heterosexual couples to wed. In a one-paragraph order, the court decided not to step into the Florida case....