Articles on this Page
- 03/26/15--16:22: _Georgia men arreste...
- 03/27/15--12:18: _Fatal crash update:...
- 03/27/15--13:27: _Medical examiner: 2...
- 03/27/15--12:00: _‘Officer-involved’ ...
- 03/27/15--15:14: _BCSO issues scam alert
- 03/27/15--16:49: _FDOT shares Gulf Co...
- 03/27/15--19:40: _Sleeping teen hit b...
- 03/28/15--07:58: _ ** BLOCKED **
- 03/28/15--12:01: _PCB council votes t...
- 03/28/15--12:07: _UPDATE: 7 shot at S...
- 03/29/15--10:42: _Man injured in moto...
- 03/29/15--10:43: _Vigil planned in Al...
- 03/29/15--18:08: _Sky patrol tries to...
- 03/30/15--08:15: _Interim medical exa...
- 03/30/15--13:31: _Florida church van ...
- 03/30/15--15:14: _Franklin County bom...
- 03/30/15--16:35: _Credit card skimmin...
- 03/30/15--16:38: _BCSO: PCB shooting ...
- 03/31/15--10:23: _Trial set for woman...
- 03/31/15--12:39: _Jury awards $53K in...
- 03/26/15--16:22: Georgia men arrested after drugs, gun found
- 03/27/15--12:18: Fatal crash update: Children's injuries no longer life-threatening
- 03/27/15--13:27: Medical examiner: 22-day-old baby girl starved to death
- 03/27/15--12:00: ‘Officer-involved’ shooting remains under investigation
- 03/27/15--15:14: BCSO issues scam alert
- 03/27/15--16:49: FDOT shares Gulf Coast Parkway alternative
- 03/27/15--19:40: Sleeping teen hit by beach tractor
- 03/28/15--12:01: PCB council votes to give police more funding
- 03/28/15--12:07: UPDATE: 7 shot at Spring Break party
- 03/29/15--10:42: Man injured in motorcycle crash
- 03/29/15--10:43: Vigil planned in Alabama for wounded Spring Break students
- 03/29/15--18:08: Sky patrol tries to keep an eye on Spring Break
- 03/30/15--08:15: Interim medical examiner takes over
- 03/30/15--13:31: Florida church van crashes into canal, killing 8, injuring 10
- 03/30/15--15:14: Franklin County bomb threat forces early closure of K-12 school
- 03/30/15--16:35: Credit card skimming device found at gas station
- Before pumping gas, check to ensure the gas pump dispenser cabinet is closed and does not appear to have been tampered with or altered.
- At gas stations, try to use a pump located closer to the store. Often, skimmers are installed on pumps located outside the view of the store employee.
- If possible, use a credit card in lieu of a debit card so that a PIN number is not utilized and available to thieves.
- Monitor bank accounts for suspicious activity.
- 03/30/15--16:38: BCSO: PCB shooting suspect had synthetic pot (911 CALLS)
- 03/31/15--10:23: Trial set for woman accused of drowning puppy at airport
- 03/31/15--12:39: Jury awards $53K in FDOT civil trial
PANAMA CITY BEACH — Two men visiting from Georgia for Spring Break have been arrested while allegedly walking down the road with a pound of hydroponic marijuana, thousands in cash and a handgun, according to arrest records.
Pierre McBean, 21, and Darius Hill, 20, were arrested Wednesday after deputies noticed the two men walking along the 9400 block of Thomas Drive and allegedly drinking from a cup containing vodka, according to Bay County Sheriff’s Office reports.
After taking Hill and McBean into custody for consumption of alcohol on the right-of-way, officers could smell the strong odor of unburnt marijuana coming from a backpack McBean was wearing and began a search. Deputies allegedly found a mason jar containing about a pound of hyroponic weed and a large plastic bag with numerous smaller baggies inside. In the front zipper of the backpack, officers said they found a Ruger handgun, though McBean did not have a concealed carry permit, BCSO reported.
McBean also had several thousand dollars in cash, officials said.
Hill also was wearing a backpack allegedly containing a small amount of marijuana. He also allegedly had marijuana “blunt” in his pockets, officers reported.
Both men were arrested and taken to the Bay County Jail.
McBean, of Lithonia, Ga., was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, carrying a concealed firearm and possession of paraphernalia.
Hill, of Valdosta, Ga., was charged with possession of less than 20 grams and possession of paraphernalia.
Confiscation of the pistol adds to the number of firearms seized by BCSO since the beginning of Spring Break. As of Thursday, BCSO had seized 25 firearms this year, while only four were recovered last year.
PANAMA CITY — Injuries to two children whose mother was killed Wednesday night in a hit and run car crash are no longer life-threatening, according to family members.
However, the kids remain in critical condition.
Jenifer L. Whitehead, 33, of Panama City, was killed Wednesday at about 8:30 p.m. when a 1993 Chevy 1500 struck her while she and the children were walking south in the grass on the west shoulder of U.S. 231, according to Florida Highway Patrol reports.
Witnesses told FHP the truck had been swerving back and forth in its lane before veering into the grass. It then struck the pedestrians and fled the scene, leaving Whitehead and her children in a ditch, officers reported.
FHP later arrested 28-year-old Patrick Andrew Henninger, of Panama City, in connection with the fatal crash and charged him with leaving the scene of a crash with death. He was found at a residence on Copenhagen Drive in the Bayou George area and arrested at 5:40 a.m. Thursday.
FHP also said alcohol was a factor in the crash. Henninger has not been charged with an alcohol-related offense. However, FHP said their investigation is ongoing.
BARTOW (AP) — A baby who was found dead in her car seat in a Florida restaurant parking lot had lost more than one-third of her body weight in the 22 days since she was born, a medical examiner testified Friday.
Betsey Kee Stephens died as a result of malnutrition and starvation, said Dr. Vera Volnikh, Polk County's assistant medical examiner.
“When we examined her stomach, small, intestine and large intestine, all of them were empty,” Volnikh said. “There was no fat tissue on this baby.”
Betsey was pronounced dead on Dec. 23. Her mother, 23-year-old Ruby Stephens, along with 48-year-old Roy Stephens have been charged with first-degree murder.
Friday's court hearing was for Judge Donald Jacobsen to hear evidence on whether Roy Stephens of Tennyson, Indiana, should be released on bail pending trial.
Stephens’ lawyer, Byron Hileman, said his client isn't a flight risk. Stephens has multiple health problems, court records show, and on Friday he sat slumped in a chair in the courtroom, wearing an orange jail outfit. His sister attended the hearing but declined to speak to the media.
Hileman also countered Volnikh's assertions that the baby died from malnutrition, saying that the medical examiner only did a cursory examination and tests.
According to records, the baby wasn't Stephens’ daughter, but he had assumed parental responsibilities.
The couple had two other children and both were in good health when police and paramedics responded to the Stephens’ calls for help.
Officials said Betsey was dead for over three hours before 911 was called.
The family had traveled from their home in Indiana, to Polk County for the holidays to visit Roy Stephens’ family.
PORT ST. JOE — The Florida Department of Law Enforcement continues to investigate the death of a Port St. Joe man while in police custody on Feb. 11.
Port St. Joe Police Chief Matt Herring immediately requested the FDLE investigate the circumstances of the death of Jonathan Paul Pierce, 37, of Port St. Joe. The officer, who has not been identified, has been on administrative leave. Herring said the case is still under investigation and he expects it will be another three to six weeks until the FDLE issues its own press release or files the completed report.
PANAMA CITY — The Bay County Sheriff’s Office has issued a scam alert warning again about a phone scam in which the scammer claims to work at the Bay County Sheriff’s Office.
The scammer calls a potential victim and claims to work in the Warrants Division of BCSO. The caller, a male, tells the victim that a warrant is going to be issued for them because they have failed to pay a fine or show up for jury duty. Payment, the scammer says, must be made immediately to avoid arrest. The amount is usually from $300-$500. The victim is told to either buy Green Dot cash cards or pay by wiring money.
The Bay County Sheriff’s Office does not notify individuals if they have a warrant by calling them on the phone, and advises people to verify all requests for payment made by anyone claiming to represent any agency before wiring any money.
PORT ST. JOE — Officials with the Florida Department of Transportation on Tuesday unveiled a new proposed alternative for the Gulf Coast Parkway to the Board of County Commissioners.
Gulf County Commissioners seemed unimpressed.
Jason Peters, a director with FDOT District III, provided the update while seeking to find consensus in Gulf and Bay counties for a new proposed alternative in the next 60 days or so, he informed commissioners.
He’s hopeful a consensus would allow the FDOT to offer the alternative, along with a corridor previously identified by the FDOT as the preferred option, to the Federal Highway Administration, which is providing funding.
“It is up to the FDOT to justify the alternative,” Peters said.
But Commissioner Ward McDaniel noted the alternative being offered was not much different from the preferred route, which as designed is nearly all in Bay County, meaning the bulk of an estimated $18 million in road funding will be spent in Bay County.
“This is also going to the (Callaway) Wal-Mart,” McDaniel said.
McDaniel and McLemore also were skeptical of a statement from Peters that a majority of responses from county residents during last May’s public hearings were in support of the preferred alternative.
“I don’t buy that,” McDaniel said.
McLemore added, “We didn’t support it.”
County officials protested, by letter and in person to the FDOT secretary, that the original intent of the Gulf Coast Parkway, in significant measure to foster economic development in Gulf County, had been abrogated with the selection of the preferred alternative.
That route, so-called No. 17, travels around Tyndall Air Force Base and connects to Star Avenue in Bay County en route to Callaway.
“Gulf County got completely cut out,” McDaniel said. “It was for Gulf County and Franklin County to begin with.”
After that protest from Gulf County, FDOT officials sought to provide an alternative that would meet the county’s needs and received permission from the Federal Highway Administration to offer an alternative.
The preferred route, Peters emphasized several times, was identified as being optimal due to costs and environmental factors.
For instance, a bridge proposed to be constructed over East Bay as part of corridor No. 17, was preferable to jutting directly north using County 386 due to the level of wildlife along the more northerly route.
What Peters brought Tuesday was corridor No. 19, which follows No. 17 into Bay County and Star Avenue but includes a spur that would jut north to connect to the newly-constructed Bay Intermodal Center.
Peters said that during public hearings last year No. 19 came in just behind No. 17 for a preferred alternative.
It would not follow the more northerly routes, which would ultimately connect to U.S. 231 near Camp Flowers Road, most preferred by county officials, particularly corridor No. 15 which is nearly a direct route from County 386 north to U.S. 231.
That route is roughly four miles longer than the preferred corridor, No. 17, but does not include construction of a bridge, local officials have noted in their argument against No. 17.
In any case, Peters presentation did not include either of the corridors most sought by the county and was met with mostly by silence, at least from county commissioners.
“There is no way we can support the alternatives they had up there,” said Port St. Joe Commissioner Bo Patterson. He said the county was trying to develop a port and bring in jobs.
Nothing offered by the FDOT fit that bill.
“Those two (alternatives) are not what Gulf County needs,” Patterson said.
County attorney Jeremy Novak asked about the timeline to secure consensus from Bay and Gulf counties, with Peters answering that the new alternative had yet to be presented to Bay County officials.
He said FDOT officials hoped to have a decision and move forward with the Federal Highway Administration in the next 60 days.
The Gulf Coast Parkway has been an ongoing saga for a decade, as Peters noted.
Planning for the parkway dates back to a federal highway bill that included funding for a “regionally significant road project that enhances security by creating a U.S. 90 bypass around Tyndall Air Force Base and creates a commerce-hurricane evacuation corridor connecting Gulf County/Port St. Joe with Panama City/Bay County.”
Those goals, according to an FDOT fact sheet justifying the parkway project, include, among other missions, as county officials have repeatedly noted, providing a more direct route between U.S. 98 in Gulf County and U.S. 231 for freight and providing a more direct route for tourists between U.S. 231 and south Gulf County.
Public Works director Joe Danford noted one more issue with the corridors proposed by the FDOT.
Both would route U.S. 98 north of Tyndall, but in the event of a hurricane, that roadway would likely be blocked by Tyndall due to security issues.
PANAMA CITY BEACH — A man sleeping on the beach was injured when he was struck by a beach tractor Friday morning, Panama City Beach Police said.
Colin Shain, 18, of Orlando, was run over while sleeping beachside, police said. PCBPD responded at 8:53 a.m. and discovered Shain was sleeping in the sand in the middle of a vehicle access behind the Royal American while he was wrapped in a silver emergency survival blanket. The tractor driver told police he saw what he believed to be trash in the access, hitting the object with the front tire.
Once the tire was on the object, the driver saw Shain’s leg come out from under the blanket, police reported. The front tire had struck Shain in the side of his chest and the tractor driver stopped before running completely over him, according to police.
Shain originally refused medical treatment offered by the tractor driver and started walking toward the Summit, police said. Shain approached a security guard and requested EMS, police said. Shain was transported to Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center, where he was treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
PCBPD said the incident remains under investigation.
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PANAMA CITY BEACH — During an emergency meeting Saturday, the Panama City Beach City Council unanimously approved two motions to add more funding for law enforcement.
One motion, which passed unanimously, directs the city manager to funnel up to $200,000 in additional city funds for law enforcement. The council also voted 5-0 to ask the TDC for more funding for PCB Police Chief Drew Whitman.
Councilman Keith Curry requested the emergency meeting after a shooting early Saturday left seven people injured.
After a long discussion and advice from their attorney the council voted down, 3-2, a proposal to outlaw drinking alcohol on the sandy beach until April 18.
More from the meeting is available on The News Herald's Twitter account @The_News_Herald
Check back later for more on this story.
PANAMA CITY BEACH — The Bay County Sheriff's Office released new details Saturday about an early morning shooting that left seven people critically injured.
David Jamichael Daniels, 22, of Mobile, Ala., has been charged with seven counts of attempted murder and is currently in the Bay County Jail awaiting first appearance on Saturday.
The shooting occurred at a Spring Break house party at 5312 Thomas Drive shortly before 1 a.m. on the east end of Thomas Drive. Authorities arrived to the scene to find seven shooting victims.
"Three victims were found in the home, one in front of the house, one in the median of Thomas Drive, and two across the street from the home," officials said in a news release.
Sheriff Frank McKeithen said because of the number of extra deputies on duty due to Spring Break, authorities were able to arrive quickly and take the suspected shooter into custody. Portions of Thomas Drive remained closed until nearly daybreak Saturday.
"It happened," McKeithen said. "This is what we've been trying to warn people about. It's been a rough time and there are two completely different elements of Spring Break. There are the college kids who are here for their Spring Break, and there is the group of people drawn here because of them."
A 40-caliber handgun matching the description of the one used in the shooting was recovered in the backyard of a residence on Beach Drive, but McKeithen said the exact circumstances surrounding the shootings were still under investigation Saturday.
"It was a house party and there were a large number of people there," he said.
For McKeithen and some others watching Spring Break, there had been a fear that it was only a matter of time until violence erupted due to the proliferation of people coming into town with guns.
"It has been very frustrating because you listen to people stand up and say that Spring Break isn't really that bad and we've been trying to tell them it is," McKeithen said. "It was only a matter of time and it's only a matter of time until it happens again if we don't address it."
McKeithen said the Sheriff's Office would hold a press conference at 4 p.m. and he thanked the other agencies in the area that assisted.
"It really broke out into chaos when that happened," Mckeithen said. "There were a lot of people there to help."
Several of the victims are students at Alabama A&M University visiting Panama City Beach for Spring Break.
The victims are: Kearria Freed, 20, of Mobile was shot in the head and remains in critical condition; Anesia Powell, age 20, was shot in the left arm, chest, and knee; Devanta Moore, 21, was shot in the chest; Jacole Young, age 22, was shot in the back three times; Kelli Curry, age 21, was shot in the leg; Tykeria Ethridge, 22, of Mobile was shot in the neck and shoulder; Henton Franklin age 22, of Mobile was shot in the side.
Authories wrote that Powell is in surgery at a local hospital. Freed, Moore and Franklin remain hospitalized in critical condition. Young, Curry and Etheridge remain hospitalized in stable condition.
Neighbors were relucant to talk about the incident.
"Some guys got into the house party and started shooting. They were running in alleyways," said one neighbor, who did not want to be identified.
The neighbor said the suspect was caught by police after running down the street.
Gary Frees, a neighbor who lives across the street from the shooting, said he didn't know a shooting occurred but that he saw police cars and tow trucks at the house while walking down the street.
The shooting was the sixth firearm related call of the evening, police said. In one incident a firearm was discharged inside a condominium, officials added. Four firearms were seized in drug-related cases.
Check back later for more on this story.
PANAMA CITY — A man was injured in a motorcycle crash on Saturday, the Florida Highway Patrol reported.
Anthony M. Martini, 47, of Panama City struck two curbs before being ejected from his 2013 Harley Davidson Road King while traveling on Star Avenue at 9:30 p.m., FHP reported. Martini accelerated to make it through the intersection of Star Avenue and State 22 while the traffic signal turned yellow, according to the FHP. Martini made it through the intersection and struck the east side curb of Star Avenue, causing him to lose control before continuing northbound until striking another curb and falling from the vehicle, FHP reported.
Martini was transported to Bay Medical Center for possible head injuries and was listed in serious condition, according to the report. FHP reported Martini was not wearing a helmet.
NORMAL, Ala. (AP) — A candlelight vigil is planned at Alabama A&M University near Huntsville for three of its students who were wounded by gunfire during spring break in the Florida Panhandle.
Police said a total of seven people were injured, some critically, during an early-morning shooting Saturday at a Spring Break party in Panama City Beach. An Alabama man faces an attempted murder charge.
The Alabama school announced on its official Facebook site that the vigil will be at 7 p.m. on the campus in Normal, Ala.
University spokesman Jerome Saintjones said the three A&M students — 20-year-olds Kearria Freed and Anesia Powell; and 21-year-old Kelli Curry — were in Bay County for Spring Break. He said investigators in Florida told the university police department that the students were innocent bystanders.
Check back later for updates
PANAMA CITY BEACH — Spring Break has a certain rhythm to its chaos.
Large crowds simultaneously shift from lazing on the beach to crowding into the nightclubs and then heading back home at the night’s end.
In addition to numerous officers on the ground level, law enforcement also relies on an eye in the sky to determine where potential crowd issues might develop and advise routes to approach the source of a crowd’s unrest.
From the sky, the multitudes of spring breakers seem more like ant colonies scurrying along the waterline to their various destinations, some with greater numbers than others.
Lt. Larry Kennedy has been head of the Bay County Sheriff’s Office aviation unit for 15 years. He and two other officers are responsible for monitoring the movements of Spring Break traffic with routine helicopter patrols during high volume times.
“When crowds build up in places they don’t normally build up, that usually means trouble,” Kennedy said Friday afternoon. “Whatever we can see from the air, we report back to the deputies.”
Hours after The News Herald took a helicopter tour of the Beach on Friday, seven people were shot at what authorities said was a Spring Break house party.
During the Spring Break season, the aviation unit is not only used to track crowd movements or hone in on a suspect’s location during a nighttime foot hunt. They are also on the lookout for people climbing condominium balconies and people distressed in the Gulf of Mexico.
One of the most monumental Spring Breaks in Kennedy’s memory was a couple of years ago when rip currents caused about 130 near-drownings. So many swimmers were in trouble that Kennedy had to use the chopper to pull 15 people to safety.
“I had two helicopters out there at the same time, and that’s rare,” he said.
Spring Break isn’t the only time the chopper is gassed up and ready to go. On all major holidays, like Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, aviation crews perform regular patrols and stand ready to lend a hugely beneficial vantage point.
For the most part, Spring Break is the most unpredictable despite the rhythm of the mass comings and goings. However, law enforcement’s role in the hectic annual event remains the same day in and day out.
“We’re mostly just trying to keep these kids from hurting themselves,” Kennedy said.
PANAMA CITY — A former alligator trapper and avid outdoorsman, Bay County’s interim medical examiner could go on to be the youngest person to hold the office.
Dr. Jay Michael Radtke, 36, was brought on as the interim chief medical examiner a little more than a week ago from the Dade County Medical Examiner’s Officer where he served three years as an associate medical examiner. His predecessor, Dr. Michael Hunter, held the position as the youngest medical examiner in the 14th Circuit Medical Examiner’s Office — he was 37 at the time.
Radtke, originally of Naples, said he decided to take the position because the Bay County region held similar attributes to his homestead, as far as population density and the surrounding ecosystem.
“I wanted to move somewhere slower paced,” he said. “Somewhere more like home.”
To Radtke, the most appealing aspect of the area is the multiple opportunities for outdoor activities — such as hunting and fishing. A slender guy with a large, bushy beard, Radtke said back home and in Miami he had previously been an alligator trapper and also dabbled in taxidermy.
One area of forensic pathology under-recognized as an issue in communities Radtke thought should be highlighted were issues with cardiac disease in young kids. Many deaths of children from cardiac disease are preventable, he said.
“A lot of times it is genetic,” Radtke said. “To have a diagnosis of that early on in older family members is important to saving lives.”
Radtke was hired on an interim basis as the new medical examiner until the governor appoints a permanent medical examiner. The job is crucial to solving criminal cases in the six counties across the Panhandle encompassing the 14th Circuit. State Attorney Glenn Hess recommended Radtke to the position following the departure of Hunter after seven years for a position at the San Francisco Medical Examiner’s Office.
Radtke has experience at the Universidad Central del Caribe School of Medicine, Jackson Memorial Hospital/Jackson Health System and the Dade County Office of Medical Examiner.
FORT PIERCE (AP) — The congregants of a close-knit Haitian church gathered Monday around Nicolas Alexis, hoping to learn what happened to 18 friends and loved ones who had been expected to return that morning from a late Palm Sunday service.
Alexis described how he frantically tried to check who was alive after their overloaded church van crashed in the darkness in rural southwest Florida.
Three men who had been seated near the 57-year-old died. Alexis said he kicked out a window to escape.
“I just know there is a God,” said Alexis, sitting in a chair dragged outside the Independent Haitian Assembly of God to ease the pain in his bandaged leg and fractured ribs.
The crash early Monday in Glades County, about 60 miles from the Fort Pierce church, killed eight people. Alexis, the church's pastor and eight others were injured.
The van crashed after the driver apparently missed a stop sign at an unlit T-intersection surrounded by farmland, sending the vehicle across four lanes and plunging through tall grasses into a shallow canal.
Eighteen people were in the 15-seat-capacity van when it crashed about 12:30 a.m. Monday, about halfway through their trip home.
“That's a very steep embankment, and they kind of did a nosedive,” said Lt. Gregory S. Bueno of the Florida Highway Patrol.
The crash killed the male driver and seven passengers, four male and three female, troopers said. The Highway Patrol was not releasing names, pending notification of their families.
The agency identified 10 other passengers taken to four hospitals. Among them was a 4-year-old child who was not in a car seat, Bueno said. The child was taken to a hospital and later discharged.
The Highway Patrol spoke briefly spoke to some survivors and will conduct more in-depth interviews, Bueno said. A full investigation will assess any mechanical issues with the van, he added.
All the people in the van were from Fort Pierce. They had been returning to the Independent Haitian Assembly of God after making their usual Palm Sunday trip to another church in Fort Myers.
The church's pastor, 57-year-old Esperant Lexine, was hospitalized in critical condition.
“He hasn't learned of the fatalities yet,” Dina Lexine Sarver, his daughter, told The Associated Press. “He was able to tell us that somebody was able to get out of the van and flag somebody down.”
Lexine founded his church more than 35 years ago, and half the people in the van were longtime members of his congregation, Sarver said.
They had left Sunday afternoon as planned, excited to be celebrating Palm Sunday and preparing for the upcoming Easter holiday after a recent fast, she said.
Sarver said her father regularly had the van inspected before similar trips, and the driver was a school bus driver when he wasn't driving for the church.
“The driver has been driving them for 30 years. He's always the chauffeur, he's done this trip numerous times,” Sarver said.
Nozaire Nore, 48, who suffered a broken leg in the crash, also returned to the church to seek solace. With his niece translating from Haitian Creole, Nore told Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers (http://bit.ly/1xsZnml ) that the driver didn't notice a curve in the road and couldn't stop in time.
While other congregants rushed to the 150-member church to console each other in its simple wooden pews, Philippe Dorce drove to the crash site west of Lake Okeechobee. He said his father-in-law and cousin had been on the van, and he helped authorities identify the victims.
“I was there trying to be a man. But at the same time, I'm crying too,” he said.
EASTPOINT — The Franklin County K-12 School in Eastpoint was to resume its normal schedule Tuesday morning, after a bomb threat prompted an early dismissal Monday afternoon.
At a briefing for teachers and staff following the orderly dismissal of the 900-plus students by about 1:40 p.m., Sheriff Mike Mock and Superintendent Nina Marks said a note found earlier in the day in a boys bathroom said a bomb was set to go off at 7 p.m.
A news release issued by the sheriff’s office said Mock, Marks and Principal Kris Bray “examined the validity of the threat (and) it was jointly decided that school should recess early to assure the safety of students and staff.” A thorough search of the campus, conducted with the assistance of K-9 officers from the Bay County Sheriff’s Office and Capital City Police, discovered no explosive devices, the release said.
“The initial investigation suggests the threat was not credible,” it stated. “While the investigation of who is responsible for the threat will continue, there is no reason to believe the students’ safety is at risk.”
INLET BEACH — Recently, a number of businesses within Bay, Okaloosa and Walton counties have discovered skimming devices installed on gas pumps and automated teller machines (ATMs,) according to a press release sent out by the Walton County Sheriff’s Office.
In Walton County, a credit card skimmer was found on a pump at a gas station in Inlet Beach.
A skimmer is a device affixed to an ATM or gas pump which intercepts and retrieves credit card information. This information is then used to “clone” credit cards and is either sold or used by thieves to make fraudulent purchases without the owner’s knowledge, officials said.
The Walton County Sheriff’s Office is offering the following tips to residents:
If a skimming device is located, contact local law enforcement immediately.
PANAMA CITY BEACH — Several eyewitnesses saw the suspect of a Spring Break shooting using synthetic marijuana before allegedly spraying gunfire upon a crowded house party, authorities reported Monday.
David Jamichael Daniels, 22, of Mobile, Ala., has been charged with seven counts of attempted murder in connection with the shooting at 5312 Thomas Drive Saturday morning. Seven people were injured and three remain in critical condition following the Spring Break house party, according to the Bay County Sheriff’s Office. And neighbors said it was not the first time BCSO responded to calls of unruly activity in the past week at the home.
This time, however, deputies arrived to find gunshot victims scattered inside, outside and across the street from the home. One victim lay in the median of the road.
Officers would apprehend Daniels shortly after, allegedly with synthetic marijuana in his possession, according to BCSO.
“We do have indication he had used synthetic drugs,” said BCSO Major Tommy Ford. “That doesn’t give him an excuse for what he did.”
Phone lines of 911 operators lit up just before 1 a.m. Saturday morning to frantic reports of a shooting on Thomas Drive.
“I need an ambulance,” one woman cried out to 911 operators. “Please, they shot my friend.”
A Spring Break house party had devolved into gunfire apparently for no clear reason. When deputies arrived, a man who was shot in the side and laying in the driveway, a woman who was shot in the neck and a crowd of bystanders said they did not know who the shooter was.
The house party was packed to the point people were standing outside, waiting in line to get in. Witnesses told investigators Daniels was inside the home smoking synthetic marijuana. Without warning, he pulled out a firearm.
One witness said Daniels appeared to be in a daze as he began firing at random people. He would stop momentarily and then continue firing.
One of the shooting victims, 22-year-old Tykeria Etheridge, wrote on Facebook that she was “just an innocent person like everybody else.”
“I was shot several times including in the neck. I just knew I was dead,” Etheridge wrote. “All I could think about was my son. He all I got man, and I don’t want him to grow up with both parents gone.”
One man was driving past the home when a flood of people poured into the street on foot and in vehicles.
“I heard gunshots and I saw everybody on the ground, people were screaming and people were running,” he told 911 operators.
Beverly Chandler, a neighboring home owner, called 911 after hearing several gunshots come from the house party. She watched from her balcony moments later as officers found Daniels running adjacent to her fence line. Chandler said it wasn’t the first time neighbors had called authorities to the house throughout the week for various disturbances, including fights involving dozens of kids.
Chandler said it seemed like a matter of time before the situation finally erupted.
“The mayhem that was going on over there,” she said. “To us, it was inevitable.”
Daniels, a Mobile resident, came to town with two friends while out on bond for his sixth arrest since 2012, BCSO revealed at a press conference Saturday afternoon. Daniels’ adult rap sheet includes arrests on gambling, drug use and possession, loitering, disorderly conduct and a probation violation.
He is being held on a $525,000 bond.
At least three victims were critically injured yet stable as of Monday: Kearria Freed, 20, who was shot in the head; Devanta Moore, 21, who was shot in the chest was stable yet critical; and Henton Franklin, 22, who was shot in the side. Three others were discharged from medical care: Jacole Young, 22, who police said was shot in the back three times; Kelli Curry, 21, who was shot in the leg; and Etheridge, who was shot in the neck and shoulder.
A seventh victim — Anesia Powell, 20 — was shot in the left arm, chest, and knee, and was in stable condition.
GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (AP) — A June trial has been scheduled for a Florida woman accused of drowning a puppy in a south-central Nebraska airport bathroom.
In a document filed in Hall County District Court on Friday, 57-year-old Cynthia Anderson waived her right to a preliminary hearing and asked that a plea of not guilty be entered. Anderson, who is from Edgewater, Florida, is charged with felony cruel neglect of animals. Her trial is set to begin June 8.
On Jan. 23 Anderson was barred from boarding a flight at the Central Nebraska Regional Airport in Grand Island because the puppy was so young and not properly contained.
Authorities say Anderson then was seen entering the bathroom. Another woman soon reported finding a dead Doberman puppy in a toilet.
BONIFAY — A Washington County jury has awarded $53,000 to 2M Land Development, LLC for 14 acres of property acquired by Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). The unanimous verdict was reached by 12 jurors, concluding the five-day eminent domain trial before Judge Christopher Patterson.
According to court documents, the development company was originally seeking a compensation amount of $1.5 million for the property, which is divided among four parcels located near Douglas Ferry Rd., extending to the Holmes County line.
FDOT acquired the land in 2012 as part of the project to widen of State Road 79. Owned by partners Mike Howell and Mike Alvis of Holmes County, 2M Land Development’s property is the last to be settled - and the first to be involved in a Washington County eminent domain trial in about a decade.
Jurors visited the subject property Thursday and delivered their verdict Friday.