Make us your home page

Tony Marrero, Times Staff Writer

Tony Marrero

Tony Marrero covers breaking news and general assignment stories in Hillsborough County. A Baltimore native, he joined the Times in 2009.

Phone: (813) 226-3374


Twitter: @TMarreroTimes

  1. Displaced South Tampa peacock gets a new home in Pasco

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — The rented U-Haul van sped north, a displaced South Tampa peacock named Big Bird resting in the back.

    For weeks, advocates of a bird displaced by progress had looked for a new home and a way to get him there.

    They'd begun to lose hope of plucking him from his solitary urbanity. But on Saturday, a plan devised by two of the peacock's biggest supporters entered its home stretch. ...

    A peacock known as Big Bird that formerly roamed South Tampa's Virginia Park neighborhood hangs out in a temporary pen at its new home on a Hudson farm on Saturday. [Photo courtesy John Maloney]
  2. Questions still linger in drowning deaths of siblings at Brandon hotel pool


    BRANDON — The last time their parents saw them, siblings Kesha and Sebastiano were walking together to the pool at the Clarion Inn and Conference Center about 2:45 p.m. Sunday.

    A short time later, brother and sister were found unresponsive, 17-year-old Kesha at the bottom of the 8.5-foot deep pool and her brother, 12, face down in the water with his arm resting on the pool deck, according to case summaries released Wednesday by the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner's Office....

    Kesha Greco, 17, was pulled from the bottom of the pool at the Clarion Inn in Brandon. Sebastiano, 12, was found near the side.
  3. Texas brother and sister dead after both pulled from Brandon hotel pool


    BRANDON — A brother and sister found at the bottom of a hotel pool Sunday afternoon have both died, authorities said Tuesday.

    Sebastiano Greco, 12, was pronounced dead at the scene Sunday, while his sister Kesha Greco, 17, died Tuesday evening at Tampa General Hospital after initially being listed in critical condition.

    Bystanders said the two were unresponsive after they were pulled from the pool at the Clarion Inn and Conference Center about 3 p.m. Sunday. ...

    A brother and sister found at the bottom of a pool at the Clarion Inn and Conference Center, 9331 E Adamo Drive in Tampa, on June 18, 2017, have both died, authorities said.
  4. Chad Chronister surprised to be tapped by Sheriff Gee but now aims to succeed him


    TAMPA — About a year and a half ago, Hillsborough Sheriff David Gee called in Col. Chad Chronister for what would be a career-changing talk.

    Sitting with his Chief Deputy José Docobo in Docobo's office, Gee told Chronister he planned to run one more time, for a term ending in 2020. Then he invoked the Sheriff's Office tradition of anointing a successor.

    "They said, 'We believe with your capabilities and what you stand for that you will be the right one to lead the office into the future,' " Chronister recalled in an interview last week. "It took my breath away."...

    Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee, far left, stands with members of his command staff during the office's annual Law Enforcement Memorial Service in May. Gee has been grooming Col. Chad Chronister, second from right, to take over when Gee retires. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]

  5. Low pressure system in Caribbean could develop into tropical depression in Gulf


    There's a 50 percent chance that an area of low pressure forming in the northwest Caribbean Sea could develop into a tropical depression or storm in the next five days, the National Hurricane Center reported Thursday.

    The complex area of low pressure is expected to form over the northwestern Caribbean Sea and the Yucatan peninsula this weekend, forecasters said. Conditions appear to be favorable for gradual development of the system while it moves slowly northwest toward the southern Gulf of Mexico by early next week....

    There's a 50 percent chance an area of low pressure in the Caribbean Sea will develop into a tropical depression or storm in the next five days as it moves into the Gulf of Mexico, the National Hurricane Center said Thursday. [National Hurricane Center]
  6. Sheriff Gualtieri taking lead in talks with ICE over immigrant detainees


    ST. PETERSBURG — One day last month, a Largo Police officer arrested Malkhaz Ambroladze on a charge of allowing an unlicensed driver to operate a vehicle.

    The next day, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement sent Pinellas County jail officials an arrest warrant for Ambroladze, a 39-year-old Guatemalan man, saying agents had probable cause to believe he was in the country illegally. ICE also sent an official form requesting the jail hold Ambroladze for up to 48 hours more if he posted bail to give its agents time to pick him up....

    Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri is taking a lead role in negotiations over immigration detentions with U.S. Immigrations and Custom Enforcement. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  7. Great-grandmother calls for help as Tampa home burns with infant boy inside


    PALM RIVER — Carla Gonzalez and daughter Elizabeth were enjoying an evening in their backyard pool Wednesday when cries for help pierced the humid air.

    Mother and daughter hurried out of the pool and across the street to see flames shooting from the double-wide mobile home at 5112 Marc Drive.

    Standing in the street, their frantic neighbor, Barbara Weidman, couldn't answer a heart-wrenching question....

    Investigators examine the ruins of the double-wide mobile home Thursday at 5112 Marc Drive in Palm River. A 9-month-old boy died in the fire Wednesday. His great-grandmother escaped.
  8. Murder victim's friends reject woman's claims he masturbated in front of her


    TAMPA — Social worker William "Bill" Denham Jr. was a small-framed, openly gay, 53-year-old pacifist, his friends and family say.

    That's why they call it absurd that a woman accused in Denham's slaying told police he had walked into a back yard and masturbated in front of her.

    Jadian Sinead Zeiders, 26, was arrested late Friday and charged with second-degree murder in Denham's beating death Jan. 14....

    William "Bill" Denham, who police say was beaten to death on Jan. 14, was described as light-hearted and kind, a prankster with a great memory who loved Boston Kreme Dunkin Donuts and his two chihuahuas. On Friday, 26-year-old Jadian Zeiders was arrested and charged with second degree murder in connection to Denham's slaying.

[Photo courtesy of John Layer]
  9. Authorities release name of Tampa woman killed in Temple Terrace apartment fire


    TEMPLE TERRACE — Authorities have released the name of a woman who died in a fire that destroyed a dozen units in an apartment complex here Sunday.

    Fire investigators discovered the body of Tenecia Renee Brannon, 28, in the rubble of one of the units at the Park at Monument Terrace complex on Normandy Place, according to the Temple Terrace Fire Department. Brannon, of Tampa, was visiting a friend's apartment when the fire broke out shortly before 3 a.m....

    Firefighters battle an early-morning fire Sunday that claimed the life of 28-year-old Tenecia Renee Brannon and left about 30 others homeless. [Temple Terrace Fire Department]
  10. Man who fired at Temple Terrace officer is shot in leg, police say


    TEMPLE TERRACE — A man shot by a Temple Terrace Police officer has been released from the hospital and booked into jail on an attempted murder charge.

    Jordan Arthur Bowie, 24, of Tampa opened fire on an officer during a traffic stop Tuesday night, according to Temple Terrace police. Bowie was hit in the leg and taken to Tampa General Hospital, where he was treated and released Wednesday then booked into the Hillsborough County Jail....

    Jordan Arthur Bowie, 24, of Tampa was arrested Wednesday and charged with attempted murder of a law enforcement after police say he shot at a Temple Terrace Police officer during a traffic stop. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  11. Memorial service sparks wistful memories for daughter of fallen Hillsborough deputy

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — As the somber notes of taps sounded in a stiff breeze, Sherri Longway thought about her father.

    She wondered if her dad, Hillsborough Sheriff's Deputy Mark Longway, was looking down on her as she sat in the Sheriff's Office memorial plaza in Ybor City, steps from the glass panels commemorating her father and 15 other Hillsborough deputies who have died in the line of service....

    Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Deputy William Barnes, standing with a group of cadets, salutes during the agency’s annual Law Enforcement Memorial Service on Wednesday in Ybor City. The service pays tribute to those lost in the line of duty.
  12. Sharing extreme views, neo-Nazis sometimes convert to radical Islam


    It sounds like an unlikely leap of faith: a neo-Nazi converting to Islam.

    But according to records and at least one friend who knew him, that's what 18-year-old Devon Arthurs did about a year before he allegedly killed two roommates in a Tampa Palms apartment on Friday. According to police report, Arthurs said he previously had neo-Nazi beliefs in common with Jeremy Himmelman and Andrew Oneschuk, but shot them Friday because they disrespected his new faith. Arthurs also said he was angry about anti-Muslim sentiment and the United States bombing Muslim countries. ...

    Devon Arthurs, 18, told police  he shared neo-Nazi beliefs with his roommates, Jeremy Himmelman and Andrew Oneschuk, until he converted to Islam, according to a police report .
[Tampa Police]
  13. Roommates in Tampa Palms slaying case never outgrew Nazi sympathies, friend says


    TAMPA — Like most people, Watson Fincher was shocked to hear that a neo-Nazi turned jihadi stands accused of killing his two Tampa Palms roommates, and that a fourth roommate told federal agents he, too, was a neo-Nazi — with bomb materials and a plan to target infrastructure.

    But unlike most people, Fincher, 24, who lives in the Houston area, says he knows both the defendants — Devon Arthurs, 18, charged with two counts of murder in the shooting deaths of his roommates, and Brandon Russell, 21, a Florida National Guardsman accused of illegal possession of explosives....

    Devon Arthurs, 18, and his friend Btrandon Russell, 22, never outgrew the extremist ideology of a disaffected youth, according to an acquaintance. Arthurs is now accused of shooting to death two of their roommates and Russell faces federal charges in connection with bomb-making materials found in their apartment. [Tampa Police Department]
  14. 'Neo-Nazi' in Florida National Guard arrested after explosives found at Tampa Palms murder scene


    TAMPA — A man accused of shooting his two roommates Friday in a Tampa Palms apartment told police he shared neo-Nazi beliefs with the men until he converted to Islam then killed them because they showed disrespect for his faith.

    The revelations weren't over.

    Officers found a garage stocked with bomb materials as they arrived to investigate the double homicide, leading to federal explosive charges against Brandon Russell — a Florida National Guardsman and admitted neo-Nazi who kept a framed photo of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh on his dresser....

    Devon Arthurs, 18, told police  he shared neo-Nazi beliefs with his roommates, Jeremy Himmelman and Andrew Oneschuk, until he converted to Islam, according to a police report.
[Tampa Police]
  15. Undercover drug buy leads to 58 shots and changes in Hillsborough Sheriff's policies (w/video)


    RUSKIN — It was supposed to be a quick undercover cocaine buy in a Wendy's parking lot. Make the transaction, let the seller walk and arrest him later.

    Then, with the cock of a gun, everything changed.

    "Just give me the . . . cash," 19-year-old Efren Esparza-Lopez told an undercover Hillsborough Sheriff's Office detective that December day, according to newly released records. ...

    [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
Efren Esparza-Lopez, 20, tried to rob an undercover detective at gunpoint during a cocaine buy at a Ruskin Wendy's on Dec. 6, 2016, then started shooting at backup detectives. He was shot in the back and later recovered. He is charged with four counts of attempted murder of law enforcement officers and armed robbery, among other crimes.