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RSS Full Text Feed of Crime-public_Safety for Mobile.

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    GREENWOOD — Jackson County Sheriff's Office deputies are investigating a shooting that occurred Sunday at a home on Allen Street.

    A man was hospitalized after he was shot in the legs. The victim, who was not identified in a press release, said he was shot by an unknown person just after 7 a.m. After he was shot, the victim ran to a nearby home and the sheriff's office was notified.

    Deputies are investigating and may provide more information as the investigation develops. The victim's condition was not released.


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    An Orlando man was arrested in Gainesville Sunday afternoon after another man said he tried to rape him and steal the money he had just withdrawn from a credit union.

    A man told Gainesville Police Department officers he had just withdrawn money from a walk-up ATM at 4:25 p.m. from the Campus USA credit union at 1900 SW 34th St. and walked near a Honda Civic occupied by a man identified as 58-year-old Phuc X. Kieu. The man told police Kieu jumped out, pulled him into the driver’s seat of the Honda, straddled him and tried to pull off his clothes, according to a GPD booking report.

    The man wrestled himself out of the Honda, and Kieu tried to pull off his backpack as he ran away, the report states. He eventually broke free of Kieu’s grasp and ran to a nearby shopping center yelling, “Rapist!”

    At some point, the $220 the man had withdrawn went missing, the report states.

    Police officers determined that Kieu had been watching gay pornography in the driver’s seat of the Honda with a portable DVD player before he is accused of attacking the victim.

    Kieu, whose name was verified by GPD officers, was booked into the Alachua County jail on charges of sexual assault, kidnapping and robbery without a weapon.


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    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico man is facing charges after police say he posted Facebook photos of stolen guns from an unsolved burglary.

    KOB-TV reports Christopher Banegas recently was arrested and charged in connection with the September 2013 heist at an Albuquerque home.

    Police say they lacked any leads until the victim recently saw pictures of his stolen guns on Banegas’ Facebook page.

    The two had been friends, and the victim tells police he didn't check Banegas’ Facebook page because he didn't suspect him.

    Banegas is facing charges of aggravated burglary, larceny of a firearm, and tampering with evidence. It isn't known if he had an attorney.


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    TALLAHASSEE (AP) — In the frantic moments at the Florida State University campus library last week, bullets struck 21-year-old student Farhan “Ronny” Ahmed three times, including a shot that severely damaged his spine and left him paralyzed from the waist down, his sister said on Monday.

    “Despite his injuries, he's alive and we're so grateful that he's here with us,” said Farhana Ahmed during a brief news conference at Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare.

    His status has been upgraded from critical to serious.

    --- SHOOTING BAFFLES THOSE WHO KNEW MAY»»

    He is the only person who remains hospitalized from last week's shooting. Officers shot and killed the gunman, 31-year-old Myron May, outside the front entrance of Strozier Library. Library employee Nathan Scott, who was shot in the leg, was released from the hospital last week. Another student, Elijah Velez, was grazed by a bullet and was treated and released at the scene.

    May, a 2005 FSU graduate and an attorney, reloaded at least once and tried to enter the library, where at least 400 students were studying for midterm exams early Thursday, but was blocked by lobby security barriers that permit only students and staff inside. Police responded within two minutes of the first 911 call and fired off a barrage of bullets that killed him. FSU officials noted the security barriers were put in place in late 2008 - or after May had already left the school.

    Ronny Ahmed is from Orlando and is studying to be a biomedical engineer. University President John Thrasher, who has met with the family, said the school is “100 percent committed to ensuring” it does what it can to help Ahmed graduate as planned. The student's friends have already started raising money on his behalf to help with medical expenses.

    --- SHOOTING BAFFLES THOSE WHO KNEW MAY»»

    Classes resumed a day after the shooting and the library reopened. But it could be weeks before the investigation is wrapped up. Police are likely to question witnesses again, and a grand jury will review the actions of campus police and Tallahassee police, who killed May.

    Videos and a journal obtained by police indicate May, who went on to graduate from law school at Texas Tech, thought he was being watched and targeted by the government. He also complained to police and property managers in New Mexico that cameras were watching him in his apartment and that he heard voices talking about and laughing at him, according to police reports released last week.


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  • 11/24/14--15:00: 2 face drug, gun charges
  • PANAMA CITY Two men have been arrested on charges of narcotics and firearm possession outside a local gentleman’s club, Panama City Police Department officials announced Monday.

    Investigators of the PCPD Street Crimes Unit arrested Petetrick L. Browning, 22, and David C. Adkins, 31, Sunday at about 3:30 a.m. near Bambi’s Dollhouse, 2913 E. 5th Street. Investigators were conducting a security check in the area when they observed several people loitering around a Chevy Camaro that was parked in front of a vacant property clearly marked as a tow-away zone. During their investigation, police found marijuana and a Walther PPK firearm, PCPD reported.

    The firearm was reported stolen out of the Bay County Sheriff’s Office. Browning, a resident of Lynn Haven and a convicted felon, was arrested for an active warrant and additionally charged with felon in possession of a firearm, felon in possession of ammunition, tampering with evidence, possession of marijuana less than 20 grams and possession of drug paraphernalia. Adkins, of California, was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana and tampering with evidence, police reported.

    Both men were subsequently taken to the Bay County Jail for their charges.


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    FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) — Officers in armored vehicles lobbed canisters of irritants that made people's eyes and lungs burn, dispersing crowds in Ferguson after a police car was vandalized, business windows shattered and gunshots rang in the streets.

    Some protesters erupted in anger after the announcement that Officer Darren Wilson won't be indicted in the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. Protesters overran a barricade and taunted police. Some chanted "murderer" and others threw rocks and other items.

    The windows of a police car were smashed and protesters tried to topple it before it was set on fire. Officers responded by firing what authorities said was smoke and pepper spray into the crowd. Protesters insisted it was tear gas.

    Some in the crowd reportedly tried to stop others from taking part in the violence.

    St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch announced the decision Monday evening. A grand jury of nine whites and three blacks had been meeting weekly since Aug. 20 to consider evidence. The panel met for 70 hours and heard from 60 witnesses.

    McCulloch stressed that the grand jurors were "the only people who heard every witness ... and every piece of evidence." He said many witness presented conflicting statements that ultimately were inconsistent with the physical evidence.

    "These grand jurors poured their hearts and soul into this process," he said.

    As McCulloch was reading his statement, a crowd gathered around a car from which it was being broadcast on a stereo. When the decision was announced, Michael Brown's mother, Lesley McSpadden, who was sitting atop the car, burst into tears and began screaming before being whisked away by supporters.

    The crowd erupted in anger, converging on the barricade where police in riot gear were standing. They pushed down the barricade and began pelting police with items, including a bullhorn. Police stood their ground.

    At least nine votes would have been required to indict Wilson. The panel met in secret, a standard practice for such proceedings.

    The Justice Department is conducting a separate investigation into possible civil rights violations that could result in federal charges. The department also has launched a broad probe into the Ferguson Police Department, looking for patterns of discrimination.

    The Aug. 9 shooting inflamed tensions in the predominantly black St. Louis suburb that is patrolled by an overwhelmingly white police force. As Brown's body lay for hours in the center of a residential street, an angry crowd of onlookers gathered. Rioting and looting occurred the following night, and police responded with armored vehicles and tear gas.

    Protests continued for weeks — often peacefully, but sometimes turning violent, with demonstrators throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails and police firing smoke canisters, tear gas and rubber bullets. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon to briefly summon the National Guard.

    Hours before the announcement, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon urged people to remain peaceful as he appeared at a news conference with the state's public safety director and the leaders of St. Louis city and county.

    "Our shared hope and expectation is that regardless of the decision, people on all sides show tolerance, mutual respect and restraint," Nixon said.

    Some black leaders and Brown's parents questioned McCulloch's ability to be impartial. The prosecutor's father, mother, brother, uncle and cousin all worked for the St. Louis Police Department, and his father was killed while responding to a call involving a black suspect in 1964. McCulloch was 12 at the time, and the killing became a hallmark of his initial campaign for elected prosecutor.

    Nixon declined to seek the removal of McCulloch in the Brown case, but he also called for McCulloch to vigorously prosecute Wilson, who had been on the Ferguson force for less than three years. Prior to that job, Wilson was an officer for nearly two years in Jennings, another St. Louis suburb.

    McCulloch, a Democrat, has been in office since 1991 and was re-elected to another term earlier this month.

    Among the cases that McCulloch's opponents cited as examples of pro-police bias was the 2000 shooting death of two men in a fast-food parking lot by two undercover drug officers in the town of Berkeley, which like Ferguson is a predominantly black suburb in what locals call North County.

    A federal investigation determined that Earl Murray and Ronald Beasley were unarmed and that their car had not moved forward when the officers fired 21 shots. But that inquiry also determined that the shootings were justified since the officers feared for their lives.

    McCulloch opted to not prosecute the two officers and characterized the victims as "bums" who "spread destruction in the community" by selling drugs.


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    ST. LOUIS (AP) — St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch's decision to announce the Ferguson grand jury decision in the evening drew complaints Tuesday from many who wondered whether that helped fan the flames of unrest and violence leading to destruction in the St. Louis suburb.

    McCulloch's news conference that began just before 8:30 p.m. Monday, during which he disclosed Officer Darren Wilson would not face indictment. The white officer shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was black and unarmed, on Aug. 9.

    By the time of the announcement, many protesters had already gathered in Ferguson and the decision sparked violent protests that included gunshots and the burning of several businesses and vehicles in the St. Louis area. At least 18 people were taken to hospitals with injuries.

    --- VIOLENCE ERUPTS AFTER ANNOUNCEMENT»»

    The decision to announce at night was McCulloch's alone, Gov. Jay Nixon said Monday. McCulloch spokesman Ed Magee concurred, and he defended the decision.

    “We coordinated with law enforcement, gave schools time to get the children home and in a safe location, gave businesses time to make a decision regarding the safety of their employees ...” Magee said.

    Former two-term Ferguson Mayor Brian Fletcher, who now leads the “I Love Ferguson” campaign to help restore the community, called the timing “horrible.”

    “I don't understand why it wasn't done in the early-morning hours of 4 a.m. or 5 a.m.,” Fletcher said. “You could still call off school and there would have been a full day of daylight for law enforcement to get into position to prevent the unrest and ultimate destruction of our city.”

    Darnesha Tabor, 20, who lives in Hazelwood, a community near Ferguson, also questioned the timing.

    “They made the decision to announce the decision later at night when you know things are going to go awry,” Tabor said. “You can't fully control things at night because it's dark outside. ... I feel like they let a lot of things unfold in Ferguson.”

    ABC's Stephanopoulos interviews Darren Wilson

    NEW YORK (AP) — ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos landed the much-sought first television interview with Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, speaking to him for an hour Tuesday in Missouri.

    The network interrupted its afternoon programming Tuesday for Stephanopoulos to talk about the interview, even before excerpts were available. ABC News plans to feature portions of the discussion on “World News Tonight,” ‘'Nightline“ and ”Good Morning America" and promised to post the full interview on its website.

    Stephanopoulos said no questions were off-limits for the interview, which took place less than 24 hours after a grand jury decided not to indict the 28-year-old officer in the shooting death of Michael Brown this summer. The shooting of the black man by the white police officer has inflamed racial tensions.

    Stephanopoulos said Wilson told him he was sorry about Brown's death, but that he feared for his own life in their confrontation this summer. The officer said that he did not believe he would have acted any differently whether Brown was black or white, the “Good Morning America” host reported.

    “He has a clear conscience over his actions,” Stephanopoulos said.

    In television terms, the Wilson interview was one of the biggest “gets” of the year, and the Ferguson police officer reportedly held discussions with representatives from CBS, NBC and CNN before deciding to speak with Stephanopoulos.


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    PANAMA CITY BEACH — Power to 125 units of the OceanVilla Condos went out Monday night during inclement weather and could be out until Dec. 5.

    “The storm got us last night,” said building manager Jim Rossi. He said he believes a lightning strike damaged an electrical piece on the third floor of the 23-floor building, located at 10625 Front Beach Road.

    “It’s the piece that goes from the transformer where power comes in and feeds up to each of the meters to each of the units,” he said. “It’s a bus bar that feeds power to all units from the third floor up. It is a custom-made piece. …” He said the part won’t arrive until next week and then there is a major installation job that likely won’t be completed until Dec. 5.

    Rossi said the strike hit the worst possible floor.

    “If it hit the top of the building, only the top floor would be out of power,” he said. “Everything that could go wrong went wrong — other than it would be worse if it happened in July. We have very low occupancy now.”

    Rossi estimated there are only a dozen people staying in the building at this time of year. He said the few residents staying in the building are coping as best they can.

    “We have power on the walkways. I’m telling them to get extension chords so they can plug up their refrigerator [to that power source] and not have food perish.”


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    PARKER — Police have arrested a Callaway man they said was responsible for a string of masked robberies dating back to 2010, Parker Police Department announced Tuesday.

    Devonteal Bernard McFann was arrested in Callaway without incident Tuesday, according to Parker Police. He is being charged with armed robbery, possession of a firearm while in commission of a felony and aggravated assault in connection with a string of armed robberies dating back to 2010, Parker police said.

    --- VIDEO: SCENES FROM ONE ROBBERY»»

    One of the store’s video shows two masked men — one wearing a wolf mask and another with a shirt wrapped around his head — robbing the store at gunpoint. Parker Police had been investigating the robberies for more than four years.

    This investigation contiues and further charges and arrests are expected, police reported. McFann is being held at the Bay County Jail pending a court appearance today.


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    PANAMA CITY — Philip Dean Brock will not see a fifth trial in Bay County for the stabbing, shooting and bludgeoning death of his friend and neighbor, a circuit judge ruled Tuesday.

    Though one of the jurors who convicted Brock, 58, of the murder and robbery of 65-year-old Terry Brazil claimed his decision was coerced, Circuit Court Judge Brantley Clark denied defense attorneys’ motion for a new trial. Jurors found Brock guilty as charged for the December 2012 death of Brazil following more than seven hours of jury deliberation — essentially convicting Brock to life in prison.

    During the verdict reading in October, each juror was given a chance to express any disdain with the group’s verdict, but no one spoke out. Clark cited that as the reason for denying the defense’s motion for a new trial and interview of the juror Tuesday.

    “He was given access to the court when the verdict was given to the court,” Clark said, “He was also given the opportunity when polled.”

    Brazil’s throat was slashed, he was shot in the stomach and bludgeoned after apparently being bound with duct tape. Several items — including his car, guns and coins — missing from Brazil’s home were found at Brock’s home. After three hung juries, the fourth found Brock guilty on Oct. 4 of murder and robbery, which carries a life sentence.

    Days after the trial, juror Bobby Baker contacted Brock’s attorneys, claiming he requested the foreperson to advise the judge they were deadlocked, but the foreman refused, he said.

    “By our foreman’s refusal to take my request to the judge, I felt as if I would be held indefinitely, until I was forced to go along with the majority,” Baker wrote.

    According to Baker’s account, nine people had decided on a guilty verdict, two were undecided and one holdout — Baker — believed state prosecutors “had not made a case of sufficient strength to overcome every citizen’s presumptive innocence,” he said.

    Several pieces of evidence linking Brock to the crime scene were missing. The gun and knife used in Brazil’s murder were never recovered. Brock’s DNA was found inside the room where Brazil’s body was found and on a bedpost investigators said was used in the bludgeoning. However, an unidentified third party’s DNA also was found at the scene.

    Defense attorney argued Baker’s verdict was made under duress, and “juror misconduct resulted in a guilty verdict denying (Brock) a fair trial,” the motion stated. “Although the jury was polled and Mr. Baker in fact stated it was his verdict, he advises and states it was only done by pressure and not his true verdict.”

    However, since Baker did not express those concerns at the time the jury was polled, Clark denied the motion for a fifth Brock trial.

    “I disagree with that argument,” Clark said. “So I’m going to deny the motion for a new trial, and deny the motion to interview the juror.”


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    A second Sarasota County Schools student has been charged in connection to an act of prostitution and an attempt to establish a prostitution ring of students from Venice and Riverview high schools.

    Julian Luis Mathena, 15, a Venice High student, was arrested today and charged with human trafficking, a felony, Venice Police Capt. Tom Mattmuller announced at a press conference this afternoon.

    Mathena was already in the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice for unrelated charges — which Mattmuller did not provide information about — and remained in the department’s custody after he was rearrested.

    His apprehension follows the arrest of Sarasota High School student Alexa Nicole De Armas, 17, on Friday. She was charged with human trafficking of a person younger than 18, a felony, police announced Monday.

    De Armas is also in the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice.

    Mattmuller said an investigation into the prostitution ring is still ongoing, but that his department currently did not expect to make any more arrests.

    “This looks like it is isolated between Sarasota High School, Venice High School and Riverview High School,” he said.

    Police reported Monday that they had also arrested John Michael Mosher, 21, on a felony charge of sexual battery on a victim older than 12. In August, he reportedly paid $40 and a bottle of liquor to have sex with a 15-year-old girl that Mathena and De Armas recruited from Riverview High School.

    Mosher, whom Mattmuller said has home addresses in both Venice and Nokomis but was listed on jail documents as homeless, is a dishwasher at a local restaurant.

    “Mosher was part of the same social group as these students,” detective Keith Quick said.

    Police allege De Armas arranged for Mosher to have sex with the teenager in a community pool shed near a park off Colonia Lane in Nokomis. The 15-year-old said she told Mosher she did not want to have sex with him, but he held her against the wall of the shed to keep her from leaving.

    “She was not a willing participant,” Mattmuller said. “She was coerced into this.”

    Mattmuller said the girl appeared to have been the only person prostituted by Mathena and De Armas, although at least four more had been solicited by the pair after they were paid by Mosher.

    Police said the ring came to light after four female students confided to Venice High School administrators that Mathena and De Armas had asked them to join their prostitution ring.

    “They discussed it as a business opportunity and tried to recruit others to buy into the business,” Mattmuller said. “You could see that the motivation was money, alcohol and drugs.”

    During a police investigation after a search warrant was issued for De Armas’ Facebook account, police said they found conversations between potential business partners, participants and details of how transactions would be made; prices for services included $50 to $70 to perform oral sex and $100 for intercourse with a virgin. They considered a 40 percent profit split for prostitutes.

    Police said none of the sexual activities they are investigating happened on school grounds.

    Sarasota County school officials will not make a comment because of the ongoing investigation, said Debbie Tippen of the district’s communications office on Monday. She said the district is cooperating with law enforcement.


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    CHIPLEY — The Florida Department of Transportation will hold a public hearing session on the department’s tentative five-year work program starting at 8 a.m. Tuesday at the FDOT District Three Design Conference Room, 1074 U.S. 90 in Chipley.

    The hearing will be held to present and receive input on the work program for fiscal years July 1, 2015, through June 30, 2020. It also will be broadcast at FDOT Panama Operations Center Conference Room, 3633 Highway 390, Panama City.

    The hearing will cover the following counties at the scheduled session times. Public comment time is anticipated 45 minutes after the start time of each session:

    • 8 a.m.: Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, and Walton counties;
    • 10:30 a.m.: Bay, Calhoun, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, and Washington counties;
    • 1:30 p.m.: Franklin, Gadsden, Jefferson, Liberty, Leon and Wakulla counties.

    The department also will receive written comments from transportation planning organizations, transportation planning agencies and other interested parties. Comments should be addressed to James T. Barfield, PE District Secretary, P.O. Box 607, Chipley, FL 32428.


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    PANAMA CITY — Antiquated credit card scams will be edging toward extinction in the coming year, but it will get much worse before it gets better, according to local law enforcement.

    With the widespread implementation of new credit card chip technology in the coming year, authorities expect significantly less occurrences of fraud. The chips will render nearly all current scams obsolete — save for the most sophisticated. But with the deadline looming, Bay County authorities are preparing for a surge in reports of banking accounts inexplicably coming up short over the holidays, according to BCSO officials.

    “Most of those [credit card] numbers they have now have a shelf life, and the bad guys know that,” said BCSO fraud investigator Craig Romans. “So everybody is in a rush to use that info and we are expecting them to start using those numbers while they can.”

    Some fraudsters have built up large caches of credit card information acquired by dubious means, such as skimmers on gas pumps, ATMs or drive-through windows at fast food restaurants. Much of that information is sold online to the highest bidder. That information then can be put on any card with a magnetic strip so that scammers don’t need the stolen card present.

    Since the credit card information is simply a binary code linked to one specific banking account, massive amounts of those codes could have been collected and stored without a “last call” on their use. The last call for the already stolen credit card numbers has been announced for October 2015, and the value of those binary codes are dropping daily until the implementation, which will cause a spike in use of that information.

    “With there now being a shelf life, many more credit card numbers are being sold and the prices of those are continually dropping,” Romans said.

    Previously in the U.S., only information from the cards magnetic strip and a personal identification number were needed to use the card — and sometimes only the information on the magnetic strip. The chip adds a third identifier to credit and debit cards that must be present at the time of a transaction.

    To ensure retailers comply with the new chip requirements in October, the banks will be passing on losses from scams to those retailers who accepted cards without the chip.

    “The merchant will eat those and not the banks,” said fraud investigator Paul Vecker.

    More than 20 million cards with the chips have been circulated so far, but more than 400 million will have to be implemented by next October.

    The best way to protect banking information until that date is to monitor banking accounts closely and report any instance of even the smallest suspicious amount that comes up.

    Unfortunately, fraud investigators don’t expect the credit chip to put scammers out of a job anytime soon.

    One example of a persisting scam law enforcement anticipate to see more of, despite the card chips, is the recently publicized IRS scams. Several Bay County residents have reported unsolicited calls from alleged IRS staffers claiming they owe back taxes. The person is then told to buy a Green Dot card, a form of a gift card, and give them the information from that card.

    Once that information is transferred to the scammer, it is highly unlikely to be retrieved without an arrest.

    “The chips make scamming more difficult, if not nearly impossible,” Vecker said. “But whether you have a 6-foot or 8-foot-high fence around your house, somebody’s going to jump the fence if they want in bad enough.”


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    PANAMA CITY — A Lynn Haven man has been arrested after violating his sex offender probation for possessing child pornography, according to court documents.

    Darius L. Goodin, 51, was arrested Tuesday after violating the terms of his sex offender probation. Goodin was originally charged for possessing 15 videos and one picture of child pornography on his computer. He pleaded no contest to eight counts of possession of sexual performance of a child.

    Bay County Sheriff’s Office investigators in February determined Goodin had been downloading and sharing child pornography on the Internet using peer-to-peer software from his home at 1402 Mississippi Ave. When investigators gained a search warrant Feb. 14, Goodin told them he frequently downloaded pornography but not child pornography, according to arrest records.

    Goodin’s computer and external hard drive was sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for forensic examination, where investigators found 15 videos and one picture that were “notable child pornography files,” investigators reported.

    Information on how Goodin allegedly violated his eight years of probation was not available Wednesday.


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    BONIFAY — A Westville woman was arrested Tuesday for allegedly filing 28 false reports of child abuse in an attempt “to create havoc,” according to the Bonifay Police Department.

    Jessica Elizabeth Combee, 38, was arrested and charged with 28 counts of false report of child abuse and each count is a third-degree felony. The reports dated back to August and were focused on two distinct homes. After subpoenas were served on Internet providers, investigators discovered Combee was the link between the two homes, police reported.

    “This is just one example of how people use the ‘system’ to carry out their agenda against whomever they felt has done them wrong,” said Bonifay Police Chief Chris Wells. “The time and effort spent by law enforcement and DCF investigating these false reports could have been better used helping others who were really in need. I hope that this case will get the attention of others who might think twice before reporting something they know to be untruthful.”

    On some days, the Florida Abuse Registry was receiving multiple reports from Combee, Wells said.

    In October, the police began investigating some of those false reports of child abuse/neglect submitted to the Abuse Registry. The investigation began after numerous unfounded reports were filed reporting alleged abuse in two separate households. The local Florida Department of Children and Families provided necessary information that led to subpoenas for records from two internet providers. The subpoenaed records led police to Combee.

    When interviewed by law enforcement as to her motive for filing such reports, Combee responded, “to create havoc,” police reported.

    Combee was arrested Tuesday and taken to the Holmes County Jail with a $28,000 bond.


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    PANAMA CITY — Local black community leaders said they were appalled both by the ruling of the grand jury in Ferguson, Mo., and the rioting that followed it.

    “The violence in Ferguson needs to stop,” Panama City Youth Movement organizer Marquis Tyson said Wednesday. “We’re only destroying our community.”

    Bay County NAACP chapter president Rufus Wood, Rainbow Coalition Coordinator Greg Dossie and Panama City Commissioner Kenneth Brown all see the grand jury decision not to indict Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson for the shooting of 18-year-old Mike Brown, who by all accounts was unarmed, as an extension of other cases over the past decade — most recently Trayvon Martin. Martin was killed in Sanford in 2012 by the neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman, who then was not convicted of a crime.

    Before that, there was a local case in 2006 they cited.

    Wood went into detail about the case of Martin Lee Anderson, who was attending a state-run local boot camp when he collapsed and was then surrounded by several officers. Video showed the officers appearing to beat Anderson while he was on the ground suffering from a serious medical condition.

    “There were seven drill sergeants doing this to this child — he was 14; all the stuff they did was totally excessive,” Wood said. “It was excessive use of force and nobody was held accountable.”

    The jury in that case ruled the officers and a nurse were not responsible for Anderson’s death.

    Dossie compared Brown’s shooting to a 12-year-old shot Tuesday by a rookie police officer on a playground in Cleveland.

    “No lessons have been learned,” Dossie said.

    While neither advocated the use of violence, both Dossie and Wood used the same quote from Martin Luther King Jr. to explain the reasoning of the rioters.

    “A riot is the language of the unheard,” King said in a 1966 interview with Mike Wallace.

    “I don’t advocate violence; I’m a clergy person,” Wood said. “But people feel they’re being oppressed.”

     

    Local law enforcement

    Tyson and Dossie believe that oppression extends to Panama City.

    Dossie said the black community in Panama City has no relationship with local police. With a high number of murders in Panama City and most of the victims being young black males, the Panama City Police Department has expressed dissatisfaction that cooperating witnesses were in short supply.

    Dossie countered that kids were afraid to file a report because of school resource officers.

    “The majority of the time they’re coming into the community to profile,” Dossie said.

    Tyson said the profiling situation is the same as it has been for some time.

    “We’ve always been profiled,” he said. “We’re getting pulled over for nothing.”

    Tyson said the Panama City Police Department could repair its image in the community by both being available and more friendly.

    “Harassing us is not working,” he said. “It doesn’t take much to talk to people in the community.”

    Panama City Police and Bay County Sheriff's officials expressed reluctance to speak about any of the events related to Ferguson. BCSO spokeswoman Ruth Corley said the case in Missouri did not really have a bearing on Bay County. State police organizations also could not be reached for comment on the matter, and local law enforcement officials either could not be reached for comment or declined to comment about their relationship with the local black community.

    Kenneth Brown, who as a commissioner is one of Panama City Police Chief Scott Ervin’s bosses, has a different perspective on law enforcement in the black community.

    “It ain’t the officers shooting,” Kenneth Brown said, referring to recent black-on-black violence. “We have people like Chief Ervin; he’s dynamic in what he’s doing. You can look at it from both sides.”

    Kenneth Brown’s solution for encouraging a better relationship with law enforcement and the black community is to foster a continuing dialogue. Wood called out all elected officials to take more a diplomatic role.

    “What happens [is that] when they’re running for office, they can catch up with you, and when they’re in office, they don’t have time,” Wood said.

    While Kenneth Brown supported the work of local officers, he still expressed some frustration with the decisions and actions in Ferguson.

    “What’s going to happen when John Q. Citizen said he shot an officer and he said he was afraid for his life?” Kenneth Brown said.


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  • 11/26/14--18:38: Teen girl reported missing
  • PANAMA CITY — Authorities are looking for a missing teenaged girl.

    Alexis Deborde was last seen Monday at about noon at her 10th Place home in Panama City, according to a Bay County Sheriff's Office release. Her parents reported her missing about 6 hours later.

    Deborde is described as a white female, 5-feet, 9-inches tall, 140 pounds with a thin build, light brown hair and blue eyes. Her age was not given in the release.

    Anyone with information on the location of Alexis Deborde is asked to contact the Bay County Sheriff's Office at (850) 747-4700 or CrimeStoppers at (850) 785-TIPS.


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    PANAMA CITY BEACH — A second suspect in a violent Panama City Beach home invasion has been arrested, according to court documents.

    Gregory Keith Cain, 45, was arrested Monday after being sought by the Bay County Sheriff’s Office in connection with an Oct. 9 stabbing. The victim, who lived in one of the units at 217 Carol Place, survived the incident and BCSO deputies arrested Ricky Lee Young, 46, while the search for Cain continued, according to court documents.

    BCSO deputies responded to 217 Carol Place at about 11:30 p.m. for a burglary. Cain, whose address is listed as the same as the victim, and Young, whose address is listed as 203 Rose Lane, allegedly entered another room on the property belonging to another person.

    The victim told deputies he was in a private room when Cain and Young entered and began striking and kicking him against his will. The victim said he did not incite or invite them into his room.

    Deputies were not certain what weapon was used in the burglary, but the victim suffered a 4-inch laceration to his left arm, a stab wound in his back and a puncture wound in his back, BCSO reported.

    Cain was arrested on charges of burglary with aggravated battery, and his bond was set at $25,000 during his first appearance.

    Young has pleaded not guilty to the charges of burglary with aggravated battery against him.

    BCSO reports do not detail the motive for the burglary. However, each man has either had charges or currently has charges against him involving methamphetamine. 


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    PANAMA CITY BEACH — Chances to help Bay County’s less fortunate children will be plentiful over the next week.

    The Bay County Sheriff’s Office and Panama City Beach Police Department will each be collecting toys and games at various locations to go toward the needy children of Bay County Saturday through Dec. 6.

    Harley-Davidson of Panama City Beach will hold a toy drive for the Bay County Sheriff’s Office children’s charity, Project 25, called “Blacker Saturday Cruise-In” that takes place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. In 1980, several Bay County Sheriff’s deputies started Project 25 for the purpose of collecting and purchasing Christmas toys for underprivileged children.

    “There is nothing like the face of a child with gifts under a tree on Christmas morning; the memory will last their lifetime,” said Sheriff Frank McKeithen.

    Guests who bring in one new, unwrapped toy or game will be registered for in-store drawings to win a variety of special Harley-Davidson gifts.

    At lunchtime, World Class Athletics, a local gym at the Beach, will sell a barbecue lunch and holiday treats prepared by the children; all proceeds will benefit the gym’s youth programs. Jace Smith will entertain with his acoustic holiday rock music, and at 1 p.m. the Panama City Classic Cruisers will hold their Fall Cruise-In at Harley, filling the parking lot. All classic cars, hot rods and antiques are welcome to come join the fun that afternoon.

    Harley-Davidson will also be the site of the 20th Annual Cops ’n’ Kids Toy Run for PCBPD the following day. Registration is Sunday 9 to 11 a.m. Kickstands go up at 11 a.m., with coffee and pastries available. However, Sunday won’t be the first or last chance to donate to the Cops ‘n’ Kids program.

    PCBPD is partnering with Florida Watersports for a 2014 Christmas Toy Drive. Today through Dec. 6 in the Target parking lot at Pier Park there will be a designated area for donating new and unwrapped toys. The toys will be delivered to families in need this holiday year and can be dropped off 24 hours a day.


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    BLOUNTSTOWN — A fervent local advocate of the poor’s right to legal counsel has died.

    Virgil Q. Mayo, of Blountstown, died Monday at age 90. Mayo was appointed the first public defender in the 14th Judicial Circuit, which consists of Bay and the five surrounding counties, after the landmark Gideon v. Wainwright case of 1963.

    Mayo would brag that he was born in a Chattahoocheeinsane asylum where his father worked in 1924. As his surviving family members proceeded to his funeral Friday, they fondly looked back on his life since, his sense of humor and passion toward assisting the less fortunate — who at one time could be accused of a crime without representation in court.

    “My dad was the greatest advocate for individual rights,” said Martin Mayo, Virgil Mayo’s son and an attorney in his own right. “The law to him was black and white, and he believed everybody, no matter what their crime, should be earnestly and zealously defended.”

    Under Virgil Mayo, the public defender’s office in the 14th District had the highest acquittal rate in the state. Most of that could be attributed to the innovative trial tactics and jury selection processes he developed years ahead their time, Martin Mayo said.

    “He always told me he wanted to know where they went to church, which liquor they drank and where they liked to socialize or party,” Martin Mayo said.

    Then in July 1963, Gov. Farris Bryant appointed Mayo as the public defender for the 14th Judicial Circuit. The Blountstown attorney would hold the office of public defender, unopposed for almost 30 years, until he retired in 1992.

    His legal interests only scratched the surface of his many pursuits, though.

    Mayo was a voracious reader, a history buff and genealogist, a self-taught blacksmith, a champion gardener, a world traveler, an avid knife collector, a winning poker player, fisherman and hunter. At one time, he served as a Boy Scout Scoutmaster and more recently, a docent at the Panhandle Pioneer Settlement in Blountstown.

    He was a member of the Elks Club and the American Legion. A loyal friend and family man, Virgil Mayo was also a dedicated Gator. Fifty years after graduating from the University of Florida, he was recognized as a member of the Gator Guard.

    “He had a life fulfilled,” Martin Mayo said.

    Family members encourage anyone who would like to donate to Virgil Mayo’s memory to send any contributions to the Panhandle Pioneer Settlement, 17869 NW Pioneer Settlement Rd., Blountstown, where he practiced the blacksmith trade.


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