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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

Email: tmarrero@tampabay.com

Twitter: @TMarreroTimes

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  1. Angry UberEats driver shoots BBs into Tampa pizza parlor, police say

    Crime

    TAMPA — Tony and Amy Abdallah had two problems with the UberEats driver who came to pick up an order at their Seminole Heights pizza place on Sunday.

    For one, the man didn't have the proper bags to ensure their customer's pizza arrived hot. But there was something even more troublesome, said the owners of Crusty's Pizza on N Florida Avenue.

    "He was visibly under the influence of something," Amy said. "I don't know what it was, but he wasn't sober."...

    
Tampa police are searching for an UberEats driver who became angry at the owners of Crusty's Pizza on Sunday and shot a BB gun at the building on North Florida Avenue.
  2. New school named for Tampa civil rights champion Warren Hope Dawson

    K12

    TAMPA — Warren Hope Dawson helped lead the effort to desegregate Hillsborough's public schools.

    Now his name will grace one.

    The Hillsborough School Board voted Tuesday to name the district's new elementary school in Riverview after Dawson, a Tampa attorney who specializes in civil rights and labor relations. Currently under construction and slated to open in August, the new school is located in the Triple Creek subdivision south of Big Bend Road and east of Balm Riverview Road....

    Warren Hope Dawson, center, shown here at a Tampa Police Department news conference, was instrumental in the fight to desegregate Hillsborough's public schools. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times (2015]
  3. FHP brings back 'Arrive Alive' enforcement after spike in serious accidents

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — Faced with a spike in serious traffic crashes statewide after nearly two decades of decline, the Florida Highway Patrol is about to embark on an unprecedented campaign to make the state's roads safer.

    The effort has a familiar name: Arrive Alive, a crash-reduction effort that began in 1970 and was absorbed by other programs in the 1990s. But the latest incarnation is a data-driven approach that aims to identify the most dangerous roadways in the state and saturate them with troopers, sheriff's deputies and police officers....

    The number of fatal crashes in Florida, like this one in September on Busch Boulevard in Tampa, is increasing again after staying stable for two decades, the Florida Highway Patrol says. [ANDRES LEIVA   |   Times]
  4. Hillsborough state attorney dropping charges against volunteers arrested for feeding homeless in Tampa park

    Crime

    TAMPA — Jimmy Dunson knew he was taking a chance when he arrived at Lykes Gaslight Square Park on Tuesday morning to feed the homeless.

    Just 10 days earlier, the same act in the same park landed Dunson and six others in handcuffs. But this time Tampa police didn't stop Dunson and his group, the Tampa chapter of Food Not Bombs.

    Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren released a letter Tuesday dismissing the city's trespassing charges against the group members arrested Jan. 7 in the city-owned park. The group was told it was violating a city ordinance that requires a permit and insurance to distribute food....

    Prosecutors will not pursue charges against volunteers from Tampa Food Not Bombs, who were arrested while they were passing out food to homeless people while visitors were in town for the College Football Playoff championship game. (Courtesy of Tampa Food Not Bombs)
  5. FHP: Car clocked at 130 mph on I-75 before flipping, injuring four teens

    Accidents

    GIBSONTON — As Tyler Wilkinson steered his gold Maxima south on Intersate 75 at speeds of nearly 130 mph, the 18-year-old Lithia man was carrying three passengers, a quarter pound of marijuana and liquor in the car, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

    About 12:30 a.m., Wilkinson passed an unmarked patrol trooper. The Maxima's headlights were dark.

    The trooper prepared to make a traffic stop, but Wilkinson took the exit ramp to Gibsonton Road and lost control, said Sgt. Steve Gaskins, an FHP spokesman. The Maxima veered onto the shoulder and rolled several times, striking several trees and a utility pole....

    The Florida Highway Patrol troopers says an 18-year-old Lithia man was  driving at speeds approaching 130 mph when he lost control and flipped on the Gibsonton Drive exit off southbound Interstate 75. [Florida Highway Patrol]
  6. MLK parade in Tampa provides a forum for many messages

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — For Billi Griffin, the day to celebrate a civil rights leader is personal.

    The 80-year-old Tampa resident remembers being called racial slurs growing up and, later, while working in Washington, D.C. In the 1960s, she marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma and in Washington, D.C., standing near the reflecting pool as he delivered his famous "I have a dream" speech.

    On Monday, Griffin slipped some oversized gold and green beads around her neck and climbed on to the Tampa Housing Authority's parade float, one of about 120 entries in the annual King parade that rolled north from Cuscaden Park in the V.M. Ybor neighborhood. Hundreds of spectators lined the parade route along 15th Street to take in the marching bands and dancing troupes. Children's necks disappeared behind piles of beads but they still clamored for more of the plastic baubles and candy. ...

    Joshua Archie, 10, grabs a beaded necklace in mid-air during the 28th Annual City of Tampa Martin Luther King Day Parade in Tampa on Monday, January 16, 2017.
  7. Three Tampa Bay voters explain why Trump's Twitter habits alarm them

    National

    TAMPA — One voted for him. Two did not. But Donald Trump's Twitter use worries them all.

    "I think that him using Twitter is a modern way of communicating with the public. However, there's no filter, so maybe he should have somebody else running his Twitter posts," said Bryan Donathan, 33, of Lutz, an independent voter who supported Trump despite reservations.

    Donathan was among a few Tampa-area voters the Times interviewed as Trump prepares to take the White House with a trail of provocative tweets in tow....

    "I think that him using Twitter is a modern way of communicating with the public," said Bryan Donathan, 33, of Lutz, an independent voter who supported Trump despite reservations. "However, there's no filter, so maybe he should have somebody else running his Twitter posts." [TONY MARRERO   |   Times]
  8. Dogs once headed for slaughter in South Korea now bound for adoption in Tampa (w/video)

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — Some were born and raised on a South Korean dog farm, spending their lives in rusty cages. Others were people's pets, snatched by thieves and sold to the farm's owner.

    All were destined to be hanged or electrocuted, then slaughtered to become "gaegogi" — Korean for dog meat, to be eaten by humans.

    Then, a reprieve. The aging woman who owned the farm in Wonju, South Korea wanted to get out of the business. Now, 14 dogs saved from the farm are bound for Tampa, where they will be put up for adoption by the Humane Society of Tampa Bay....

    Photo from Humane Society of the United States
Fourteen of about 200 rescued recently from a dog meat farm in South Korea are headed to Tampa this month to be put up for adoption by the Humane Society of Tampa Bay.
  9. Police shoot burglary suspect in Tampa home

    Crime

    TAMPA — Police shot a burglary suspect who threw a "flaming accelerant" on an officer and police dog inside a home Thursday morning, a police spokesman said.

    The shooting happened shortly before 11 a.m. when Tampa officers responded to a burglary call at 1022 E 25th Ave., said spokesman Steve Hegarty. The officers noted that a window on the side of the house was broken. They also recognized a car parked outside the home belonged to a man with a lengthy criminal record who was wanted on outstanding warrants. ...

    Photo from Tampa Police Department
Joey Antonio Kennedy, 40, was shot by a Tampa police officer while burglarizing a Tampa home on Thursday, police said. According to police, Kennedy threw some sort of flaming substance on a police dog and his handler, Officer Tim Bergman, who opened fire and shot Kennedy at least once. He was taken to a local hospital with injuries that weren't life-threatening, police said. The officer was not injured. Police dog Indo suffered minor burns to his head.
  10. Debate coming to a head over feeding homeless in Tampa parks

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — The arrests of seven volunteers feeding people in a Tampa park last week is the latest flareup in a battle that has simmered for at least a dozen years.

    Now the conflict appears to be coming to a head. On one side is Tampa Food Not Bombs, an activist group that sees defying local ordinances as a form of civil disobedience. On the other are city officials like Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who says the park is the wrong place to feed the needy. ...

    Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn says Gaslight park is the wrong place.
  11. Police appear but no arrests made as food handed out again in Tampa park

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — Glen Edwards made his way along folding tables laden with muffins, hash browns, even pizza despite the early hour.

    Edwards, 45 and homeless, grabbed a pastry and wondered where the police were. Three days earlier, as fans packed downtown ahead of the College Football Championship game, seven members of the group Tampa Food Not Bombs were arrested and charged with operating in the city-owned park without a permit. ...

    Tampa Police Lt. Kim Plourdes-Torres, right, calls for more officers Tuesday morning as protesters form a human wall around a food serving line set up for the homeless in Lykes Gaslight Square Park.  No arrests were made at the park but charges were expected to be filed later. [JAMES BORCHUCK  |   Times]
  12. Driving death of former football star Holloway spotlights bar responsibilities

    Civil

    TAMPA — One night last October, Max Holloway lost control of his Dodge Charger, veered off the road and crashed into a house.

    The 26-year-old former standout football player for Jefferson High School died from his injuries. The crash was widely reported, in large part due to Holloway's football success and the notoriety of his father, who spent eight seasons in the NFL.

    Now, a lawsuit filed by Holloway's parents, Brian Holloway and Bette McKenzie, is placing blame on a Lutz bar and grill their son frequented. He was there so often, according to the lawsuit, that employees at Panini's knew he was addicted to alcohol but served him anyway....

    Max Holloway crashed his car after leaving a Lutz bar and grill.
  13. Brandon father killed when red-light runner suspected of drinking hits his car

    Accidents

    BRANDON — Dontae Hill had two loves: music and family.

    The 25-year-old Armwood High School graduate, known as Big Don, took great pride in his rapping skills, recording his own songs and posting videos on YouTube. And he doted on his 1-year-old son, "Little Don," while looking forward to another child who is on the way....

    The intersection of Adamo Drive and Falkenburg Road near Brandon was closed after a fatal crash Wednesday morning. [SKIP O'ROURKE  |   Times]
  14. Christmas bike he was riding when hit by SUV had expanded world for Ruskin boy

    Crime

    RUSKIN — Natasha Wood cooked chicken for a New's Year Eve family dinner, wondering why her 13-year-old son hadn't arrived.

    Cameron Fuller had ridden his new Christmas present, a black BMX bicycle, to a recreation center about a mile and a half from his family's home on SW Ninth Avenue. He should have been home, Wood thought.

    Then came a knock on the door. The friend Cameron was riding with stood on the doorstep with his parents....

    Cameron Fuller’s bike and sneaker lie in a turn lane along U.S. 41 in Ruskin on New Year’s Eve. The boy was hit by a sport utility vehicle while trying to cross the highway. [Florida Highway Patrol]
  15. For diehard Gator and Hawkeye fans, Outback Bowl is fine consolation prize

    Human Interest

    TAMPA

    As the sun beat down on the Raymond James Stadium parking lot, beads of sweat glistened on Hawkeye Elvis' brow. His custom-made black-and-gold jumpsuit and towering black pompadour wig don't breathe.

    Also known as Greg Suckow, the 47-year-old real estate lawyer from Minneapolis had hoped his team would make it to the big show. He grew up watching the University of Iowa Hawkeyes and now is a season ticket holder who dons the outfit and beads in Hawkeye colors for the team's games....

    Iowa Hawkeyes fans brought enthusiasm to Monday’s contest, though for most of the Midwesterners in the crowd, the summery Tampa day likely gave them more to cheer.