05/18/13 Human Interest
TAMPA — The love affair between Leland Hawes and newspapers began in the 1930s, with an old L.C. Smith typewriter in his father's office in their Thonotosassa home. Mr. Hawes, then a boy of 8 or 9, was fascinated by the typewriter, he told an interviewer later. His father, who worked in the citrus business, had an idea — the boy could put out a newspaper in their rural community.
That paper — The Flint Lake Diver (Thonotosassa is an Indian word meaning "lake of flint")— launched the journalism career of Mr. Hawes, who would go on to work for the Tampa Tribune for more than 50 years as a reporter, editor, and history columnist. A lifelong Hillsborough County resident and historian, Mr. Hawes died Saturday, according to the Tribune. He was 83....
TAMPA — The day before Remee Jo Lee learned her unborn child had died, she later told a judge, her boyfriend, John Andrew Welden, came over to care for her.
Lee, 26, was experiencing cramps and bleeding. She was worried something was wrong with her pregnancy, in its seventh week. Welden, 28, brought her soup and told her everything was fine as long as she didn't lose too much blood, she told the judge....
PLANT CITY — A man arrested Thursday for walking onto school property with a loaded gun told authorities he was a "sovereign citizen" and not subject to United States laws.
Bruce C. Hicks, 46, made the sovereignty claim to a Hillsborough County sheriff's deputy during the arrest outside Turkey Creek Middle School southeast of Plant City.
School resource Deputy Patrick Diaz was monitoring dismissal about 4 p.m. when he spotted Hicks walking near the school at 5005 S Turkey Road. Hicks was pushing a dolly that held an old plastic toy car, and Diaz noticed a gun holstered to his hip. Diaz called for Hicks to turn around and Hicks stepped onto school property....
05/16/13 Public Safety
TAMPA — For the second time this year, Tampa police's top DUI officer has been involved in a drunken driving stop that has the person arrested claiming conspiracy.
First it was Tampa lawyer C. Philip Campbell, whose attorneys say his Jan. 23 arrest was a setup involving Sgt. Ray Fernandez.
Now Al Fox, an outspoken activist for normalized American relations with Cuba, says he plans legal action over his Feb. 21 arrest. ...
TAMPA — The son of a Lutz fertility doctor killed a girlfriend's unborn child by tricking her into taking an abortion drug, federal authorities said Wednesday.
The act could put John Andrew Welden, 28, in prison for life.
Welden forged the doctor's signature on a prescription for Cytotec, relabeled a pill bottle as "Amoxicillin" and told the woman that his father wanted her on antibiotics, a federal prosecutor asserted Wednesday....
BRANDON — A deputy shot and killed a "career criminal" Tuesday after the man wrestled a gun away from a detective trying to arrest him, said Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee.
Bobby Earl Driggers, 50, of Seffner was wanted on arrest warrants for grand theft auto and uttering a forged instrument, the sheriff said.
He was on a list of prolific offenders the Sheriff's Office was looking for — Gee called him a "50-year career criminal."...
Did you get a ticket from a red light camera you don't think you deserve? How you appeal that will change, starting July 1, thanks to legislation sponsored by state Sen. Jeff Brandes.
The changes will create more work for cities and counties that use red light cameras but will fix other problems, according to one of the region's most vocal red light camera critics.
"I'm real pleased with it," said Pinellas County Clerk of the Circuit Court Ken Burke, who urged Pinellas cities with red light cameras to stop issuing tickets earlier this year. "It's a big improvement."...
TAMPA — Brittany Lanier got the phone call about 2:30 a.m. Saturday.
"Your brother got shot in the head," the caller said.
Lanier, 24, loaded the car up and made the 10-minute drive to her mother's apartment near Ybor City, where Wayne Lanier, 21, lived. She prepared herself to be the strong one, to help her mother and grandmother mourn, and started working on the question no one could answer hours later....
YBOR CITY — If you stumbled across the program to the Rev. Thomas Stokes' memorial Mass and saw the picture of the elderly Irishman with a thin tuft of white hair, glasses, and a slight grin, you would probably not think, "I bet a mariachi band played at that service."
But there the band was Friday night, the men in brown suits with gold trim and cream cowboy boots, playing Mexican folk music as hundreds of people filed into Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church to pay their respects to the Rev. Stokes, the former pastor who saved the church from financial hard times....
05/08/13 Public Safety
TAMPA — Before Tuesday, Jadarrius Speights was known to neighbors at Avesta apartments as the little boy who rode his bike in the empty parking spaces near his home, occasionally waving to people he recognized.
"He was a cute little guy," said neighbor David Turner. "Very spritely and very mannerly."
Tuesday evening, Turner looked out his window at a growing crowd in the parking lot and saw the little boy for the last time, on a stretcher being rolled into an ambulance. ...
TAMPA — A 3-year-old boy who found a gun in a backpack and shot himself died Tuesday night, authorities said, a local addition to this month's spate of child shootings nationwide.
The boy, identified by the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office as Jadarrius Speights, was with his mother, father and uncle in Apartment 109 of the Avesta apartments at 13144 N 22nd St., just west of the University of South Florida. ...
TAMPA — The director of Hillsborough Head Start resigned Friday to pursue an undisclosed career opportunity, according to county administration.
Louis Finney had led the antipoverty program — funded by federal, state and county money — providing education and social services for preschool-age children since 2005. His tenure was marked by a series of successes detailed in a county news release sent Friday evening, but was also marred by a series of disciplinary issues. The resignation was Finney's decision, according to Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill....
TAMPA — The salesman heard a baby's cries and the sound of running water. The cries stopped after 15 or 20 seconds, he told authorities. But the mother didn't seem concerned, according to court records, so the salesman kept talking.
The mother was Sierra McMillan, 22, who the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office arrested Monday evening on a charge of aggravated manslaughter of a child in the drowning of her 7-month-old son....
TAMPA — Ivan Echevarria awoke early Saturday covered in another man's blood, authorities said.
The 40-year-old construction worker had slept the night in the carport of the home where he'd been drinking the night before, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. It didn't take long for him to figure out whose blood it was — a few feet away from where Echevarria woke up lay the body of Luis Rojas, 79, the owner of the home at 1923 S 66th St. in Palm River, an unincorporated community east of Tampa....
TAMPA — The front door was already open when deputies arrived about 10:30 p.m.
They stepped on the welcome mat adorned with flowers and a ladybug and peered into the house. There, they found Julia Hill, 68, dying from a gunshot wound to her chest. A .38-caliber revolver lay on the floor by her.
She had shot herself, Hill told deputies Wednesday night. She had also shot her 46-year-old daughter, Tracey Hill. Deputies found Tracey dead in her bedroom, a gunshot to her head....