Articles on this Page
- 01/14/15--10:05: _At least 10 killed ...
- 01/14/15--10:10: _Traffic signal work...
- 01/14/15--10:46: _Man arrested after ...
- 01/14/15--12:18: _Marianna man arrest...
- 01/14/15--16:54: _BCSO: DNA shows sex...
- 01/15/15--08:32: _PCB eyesore demolished
- 01/15/15--08:33: _Precautionary boil ...
- 01/15/15--08:34: _Baby treated for br...
- 01/15/15--08:35: _Wreck blocks traffic
- 01/15/15--09:41: _Man charged after s...
- 01/15/15--15:22: _Accused killer’s tr...
- 01/16/15--09:39: _Police: Teen posed ...
- 01/16/15--10:29: _Work set for U.S. 2...
- 01/16/15--11:30: _Police: Guard, 2 st...
- 01/16/15--15:19: _Finding the Right W...
- 01/16/15--15:24: _Texas man gets 15 y...
- 01/17/15--11:22: _Florida police say ...
- 01/17/15--11:44: _BCSO arrest log (Ja...
- 01/17/15--15:03: _UPDATE: Pedestrian ...
- 01/17/15--15:59: _FHP investigating f...
- 01/14/15--10:05: At least 10 killed when prison bus strikes train in Texas
- 01/14/15--10:10: Traffic signal work continues on Tyndall Parkway
- 01/14/15--10:46: Man arrested after chase
- 01/14/15--12:18: Marianna man arrested after bomb threat
- 01/14/15--16:54: BCSO: DNA shows sex offender fathered victim’s child
- 01/15/15--08:32: PCB eyesore demolished
- 01/15/15--08:33: Precautionary boil water notice issued in PCB
- 01/15/15--08:34: Baby treated for broken bones; parents arrested
- 01/15/15--08:35: Wreck blocks traffic
- 01/15/15--09:41: Man charged after setting up sexual encounter with minor
- 01/15/15--15:22: Accused killer’s trial nears
- 01/16/15--09:39: Police: Teen posed as doctor at West Palm Beach hospital
- 01/16/15--10:29: Work set for U.S. 231 in Bay County
- 01/16/15--11:30: Police: Guard, 2 strippers smuggled booze, drugs into Florida prison
- 01/16/15--15:19: Finding the Right Way: Rehab program focuses on addiction
- 01/16/15--15:24: Texas man gets 15 years robbery attempt
- 01/17/15--11:22: Florida police say 2 dead, 1 injured in mall shooting
- 01/17/15--11:44: BCSO arrest log (Jan. 8-13)
- 01/17/15--15:03: UPDATE: Pedestrian struck by truck on U.S. 231 Friday night
- 01/17/15--15:59: FHP investigating fatal wreck in Jackson County
ODESSA, Texas (AP) — Eight inmates and two corrections officers died Wednesday when a prison bus skidded off an icy West Texas highway, slid down an embankment and collided with a passing freight train, authorities said.
The overpass on Interstate 20 was slick with ice Wednesday morning when the Texas Department of Criminal Justice bus left the roadway in Penwell, just west of Odessa, according to Ector County Sheriff Mark Donaldson.
An earlier accident on the I-20 overpass may have contributed to the prison bus losing control, Donaldson said.
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice confirmed the 10 deaths in a statement, adding that four prisoners and one corrections officer were injured.
“It's as bad as you can imagine,” Odessa Fire and Rescue Battalion Chief Kavin Tinney told the Odessa American newspaper. “In 32 years it's as bad as anything I've seen.”
Tiffany Harston, spokeswoman for Medical Center Hospital in Odessa, said four of the injured are in critical condition and one is in serious condition.
“It's with a heavy heart that we mourn the loss of those killed and injured this morning in a tragic accident,” said Brad Livingston, executive director of the Department of Criminal Justice. “Their loved ones will be in our thoughts and prayers.”
Jason Clark, a spokesman for the Department of Criminal Justice, said the bus was taking the inmates from the Middleton prison in Abilene to the Sanchez prison in El Paso. The prisoners were handcuffed together in pairs.
After the accident around 7:30 a.m., the white bus came to rest on its side, next to the railroad tracks, crumpled with heavy damage to its front and undercarriage. The top of the bus was caved inward.
The Union Pacific freight train with four locomotives and 58 cars came to a stop soon after. None of the cars derailed, but two containers at the rear of the train were damaged, said Mark Davis, a railroad spokesman.
The containers were carrying hundreds of parcels and packages, many of which were strewn along the tracks.
No Union Pacific employees were injured.
The train, which was traveling from the Los Angeles area to Marion, Arkansas, remained stopped at the accident site several hours after the accident, Davis said.
“We'll send crews to inspect the train, inspect the track,” he said.
The National Transportation Safety Board said it's sending its own team of inspectors to the scene.
State Rep. Tan Parker notified the Texas House of the accident and led a moment of silence.
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick issued a statement offering condolences to the families of those killed in the wreck.
“I also pray for a speedy recovery of a third correctional staff member and four offenders who were transported with injuries,” he said.
In June, an inmate was killed and several other people were injured when a Department of Criminal Justice van collided with a car in Central Texas.
CALLAWAY — Traffic signal maintenance work will continue along Tyndall Parkway.
Beginning at 7 p.m. Wednesday and continuing through Friday, drivers can expect to encounter intermittent lane closures at intersections between Tyndall Drive and Transmitter Road.
SPRINGFIELD — A man suspected of stealing numerous vehicles was arrested on Wednesday after a brief chase, the Bay County Sheriff’s Office reported.
Steve Corzel Corbin was arrested on warrants for grand theft auto and felony retail theft and is believed to be connected to three stolen vehicles in Callaway, Parker and Panama City, a BCSO press release stated. Corbin was spotted at a residence by BCSO Warrants Division Capt. Joe Smiley at about 7:15 a.m. on Wednesday. The release said Corbin was driving in a stolen Toyota Camry when Smiley began to follow him in an unmarked car.
The vehicles didn’t go over 40 mph in the pursuit. It ended on Sanders Lane in Springfield, when Corbin slowed the vehicle, jumped out and fled on foot, according to the release. The Camry came to a stop after hitting a parked car.
Smiley caught up to Corbin and arrested him. Each theft involved vehicles that were unlocked with the keys inside, the release said. Some of the vehicles were left running, BCSO reported, and were taken from homes and a gas station.
The BCSO urged everyone to never leave unattended cars unlocked, especially while running, and to not leave keys inside
MARIANNA — Authorities have arrested a Marianna man for allegedly calling in a bomb threat to a former employer, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office announced Wednesday.
More than 2,000 workers were evacuated after Assurant Insurance Company in Miami received the bomb threat in November of last year. The phone call was recorded and traced to a pay phone at the Florida Welcome Center in Campbellton, and employees of the insurance company contacted JCSO, according to the news release.
The insurance company suspected a former employee, 47-year-old Michael Paul Pharmer, might be responsible, JCSO reported.
JCSO investigators contacted the Florida Welcome Center and obtained a video from their surveillance system showing a subject matching Pharmer’s description in the building. Employees told authorities the man requested change for the pay phone.
Investigators said they later questioned Pharmer and he admitted to making the phone call, reporting that a pipe bomb was going to go off inside the building. Pharmer was arrested on Jan. 8 without incident and taken to the Jackson County Correctional Facility. Pharmer has been charged with making false report about planting bomb/ explosive.
PANAMA CITY — A released sex offender was re-arrested after a DNA test revealed he was the father of a child allegedly conceived during a rape, officials with the Bay County Sheriff’s Office confirmed Wednesday.
Horace Monroe Wood, 45, was at the edge of conditional freedom Monday after a Bay County circuit judge said he did not violate terms of his probation on lewd and lascivious child molestation charges. However, only moments before Wood left police custody, authorities received DNA results confirming Wood was the father of a child born in 1995 after an alleged sexual battery on a 14-year-old victim, BCSO officials said.
Wood was taken back into custody, charged with sexual battery and ordered to be held indefinitely without bond.
It was the second time Wood neared freedom before swiftly being arrested. The first time, Wood called Sheriff Frank McKeithen to complain of deputies monitoring his activities and disturbing him throughout the night.
Wood previously had been released the day he was supposed to go to trial at the end of October, although he was accused of sexual battery by four underage victims. He pleaded no contest to one count of lewd and lascivious molestation and received probation and the lifetime designation as a sex offender.
At the time, though, investigators were awaiting paternity tests ordered by the court.
Investigators were “still investigating a case involving (Wood) and … a victim from 1994, who had a child with the defendant when (she) was 14 years old,” Matt Pavese, prosecutor in the case, wrote in an October memo. “We are currently awaiting DNA results of that case.”
But the case concluded with the State Attorney’s Office not being able to place any of the alleged victims on the stand, since several years had passed since the alleged 2006 child molestations. Some of the children’s accounts, from when they were as young as 3 years old, conflicted with others.
“I have little doubt these girls are telling the truth; however, time has eroded their stories and their memories,” Pavese wrote.
In general, the statute of limitation on a first-degree felony is about four years after the victim turned 18, according to state law. However, prosecution of a sexual battery can commence within one year after substantial DNA analysis of the crime is conducted, according to state law.
Wood was released with three years of probation, but eight days later, probation officers caught Wood without one piece of his court-required electronic monitoring device and apprehended him outside the Youngstown Motel, 12434 U.S. 231. Circuit Judge James Fensom later ruled the nearly two hours Wood spent without the monitoring device was not a “substantial” nor “willful violation” of his probation.
Wood again prepared for his release. However, as his probation reinstatement was processed, authorities received notice that DNA evidence from the pending paternity case had been returned, and the results identified Wood as the father of a child allegedly conceived in rape, BCSO said.
Wood was again taken into custody Monday before exiting the Bay County Jail. He has been charged with sexual battery and also has a pending child support case that has been reopened in the Bay County courts.
Wood is currently being held without bond.
PANAMA CITY BEACH — Spectators who watched the Beach Club Motel crumble along Front Beach Road Tuesday night weren't sad to see it go.
The motel has been closed and fenced off for at least four years, and has since had two fires and ongoing issues with vagrancy. Construction crews began the process to demolish the structure earlier this week.
"Our homeowners have been begging and asking for the past year when it's coming down," said Lamar Griffin, maintenance supervisor at OceanVilla Condominiums next door.
Griffin thought back to last fall when a heavy wind storm sent pieces of the dilapidated building flying onto neighboring properties and into traffic on Front Beach Road.
"When the last of the roofing blew off, we were picking it up out of our property," he said.
Canadian snowbirds Andy and June Campbell caught a bit of the action during a walk late Tuesday. The couple has been visiting the area for three years and said it's about time the old motel was demolished.
"Every year we come down and say, surely they've gotten rid of it," June Campbell said.
"Boy, we're glad to see that come down," her husband added.
Panama City Beach building inspectors deemed the building unsafe in 2013 and requested it be demolished, but pushback from the property owner halted the process for several months.
"It's a long time coming," Panama City Beach Council member Keith Curry said of the demolition. "This eyesore, it was a danger to the community and now it's going away."
To combat the pushback, the Panama City Beach City Council approved an update to its 30-year-old abatement code, adding language to expedite the process to remedy nuisance properties in the area.
The new ordinance gives the city the power to assess properties in question and place any city-incurred fines or demolition expenses on the property owner’s tax bill if the structure is declared a nuisance.
Curry said the changes will help set a precedent for other properties in the area.
"The big thing is, the taxpayers aren't on the hook for it," Curry said. "With the assessment, we will work with you on the property, but if you don't do what's right ... the Panama City Beach government will take care of it for you."
John Alaghemand, who heads the Panama City Beach Community Redevelopment Agency, said removing eyesores will help pave the way for the next phase of improvements along Front Beach Road.
Segment two of the CRA's Front Beach Road improvement project will redevelop a 1.1 mile stretch that runs in front of the Beach Club Motel property, and includes construction of wider lanes, sidewalks, landscaped medians and designated lanes for public transit. Alaghemand said the city is preparing to advertise the job and could award contracts as early as April.
"This phase will kind of show what our vision is for the rest of Front Beach Road," Alaghemand said, adding the project could significantly increase property values along the corridor. "All of the property owners are very excited about the second phase."
PANAMA CITY BEACH — Due to a water main break Wednesday, the Panama City Beach water supply line experienced a loss in pressure, meaning some customers may have discolored water for about a day after water service is fully restored.
Utility officials suggest customers in the following area should boil water used for drinking or cooking: 6500-6762 Harbour Boulevard and 1311-1318 Harbour Way Circle.
Anyone with questions can call 233-5100 during business hours or 233-5050 after hours.
PARKER — The parents of a Parker child have been arrested after their 5-month-old was hospitalized with a fractured arm and broken ribs, according to Parker Police Department documents.
Molly Elizabeth Bush, 38, and Eric Dewayne Smitherman, 26, have each been arrested and charged with child neglect and aggravated child abuse, respectively. Police intervened after an incident Monday, which ended with their 5-month-old child being taken to a local hospital with serious injuries, and the two subsequently were taken to the Bay County Jail, police reported.
Smitherman was arrested Monday for allegedly shaking his 5-month-old to stop the child from crying. During the incident, the baby suffered a spiral fracture to the left arm and also sustained broken ribs, according to arrest reports.
Police said that as Smitherman shook the infant, Bush — the mother of the child — did not attempt to stop the alleged abuse. Bush also did not contact law enforcement before taking the child to the hospital, police said.
Police claimed Smitherman was under the influence of narcotics at the time, according to arrest reports. Bush told investigators she had sold Smitherman hydrocodone, and he previously had been under the influence of cocaine and methamphetamine.
Bush told police that Smitherman had been violent with her other children in the past, but those incidents also went unreported on her part.
On one occasion in January 2014, Smitherman was arrested on charges of battery on Bush while she was pregnant with the child. He also was charged with depriving a victim of communication with law enforcement when Bush attempted to call police during the incident. Dispatchers at the Panama City Police Department could hear a brief moment of the altercation before Smitherman snatched the phone from her against her will and hung up, court records indicated.
During his bond hearing Monday, Smitherman requested he be allowed to bond out because he needed to provide care for his elderly mother.
“Weren’t you also supposed to be caring for your child?” Circuit Judge Shane Vann replied.
Smitherman is being held without bond after violating his probation from the January 2014 incident. He was given a bond of $50,000 for the charge of aggravated child abuse.
Bush was arrested on charges of child neglect. Her bond was set at $15,000.
LYNN HAVEN — A rollover wreck at Highway 390 and Transmitter has blocked traffic on 390.
FHP reports six injuries and no fatalities. The roadway is still blocked and drivers are urged to use caution in the area.
Check back later for more on this story
PANAMA CITY BEACH — Police have arrested a 59-year-old man who allegedly believed he was meeting a 14-year-old boy for sex, the Panama City Beach Police Department announced Wednesday.
David William Clanton was arrested after allegedly organizing a sexual encounter with a boy over the Internet. While Clanton believed he was communicating with a minor, investigators staged the meeting and arrested him, according to PCBPD officials.
During the course of the investigation, Clanton allegedly sent nude digital images of himself to a person he believed to be a 14-year-old. He then agreed to travel to the minor’s residence for a sexual encounter, PCBPD reported.
When Clanton arrived, though, officers lifted their veil and arrested Clanton without incident. Clanton was later taken to the Bay County Jail on charges of traveling to meet a minor for a unlawful sexual act, soliciting a minor with an electronic device to engage in a sexual act and transmission of harmful material to minors, police reported.
PANAMA CITY — Prosecutors have amended the charges against a man accused of a deadly Panama City Beach shooting during a drug deal gone wrong as his court date nears, according to court documents.
Meanwhile, a second man charged in connection with the shooting has been hospitalized after an out-of-state car wreck, attorneys reported.
Randy Trebor Jackson, 24, was charged with third-degree murder after an alleged robbery scheme for about 2 ounces of marijuana turned deadly in July. Ryan Brooks, 20, was fatally shot multiple times in the Club Apartments parking lot on Panama City Beach. Since then, the state’s plea offer to Jackson has been revoked and prosecutors have amended his charges as his trial approaches Jan. 26.
The charges against Jackson were amended Thursday to manslaughter, attempted robbery and third-degree felony murder — all while possessing a firearm. He also faces charges of attempted sale of cannabis and felony possession of a firearm.
A jury trial has been scheduled in Jackson’s case; however, on the other side of the gunfire, the case of 26-year-old Joseph Cannizzo has been derailed following a December out-of-state car wreck. According to Cannizzo’s attorney, he suffered brain and spine injuries during a “dramatic car crash,” defense attorney Dustin Stephenson said.
The state has extended a plea offer until he is healthy and the next court date was set for April 15 in Cannizzo’s case.
Six people were arrested in the early morning fallout of the July 10 shooting at the Club Apartments, 325 Richard Jackson Blvd., as the three survivors tried to cover their tracks, according to police.
Cannizzo and Brooks allegedly waited in a green SUV in the Club parking lot for Smith to conduct a deal for about 2 ounces of marijuana. Smith’s girlfriend, 17-year-old Alyssa Watford, previously had dated Brooks and arranged the transaction between the two, according to Smith’s sworn testimony.
Josh Heath Smith, 23, and Jackson allegedly discussed beforehand how they would catch Brooks off guard. Jackson would remain behind in the deeply tinted Kia Forte, waiting to get the drop on him, Smith said.
But they didn’t anticipate the people they were awaiting also would be aiming to rob them, according to law enforcement. After Smith brought the money into Brooks’ green SUV, Cannizzo drew on him — ordering Smith to drop his pants, where his gun was stored. Brooks then stepped out and walked over to search the Kia. Neither Brooks nor Cannizzo knew Jackson was in the car until gunfire roared from within.
Smith fled on foot through the woods as Cannizzo ran over to his injured friend, according to police. Brooks would die face down on the asphalt shortly thereafter, and police helicopters would begin to circle in the night sky.
Six people were arrested in connection with the shooting. Watford has pleaded not guilty to principal to attempted robbery. Cannizzo also has pleaded not guilty to principal to robbery with a firearm for allegedly attempting to rob Smith, while his girlfriend 26-year-old Nichole Philbrook has pleaded to three years probation for tampering with physical evidence and attempting to cover up for Cannizzo.
Clinton Robert Allen, 34, who accepted the alleged murder weapon from Jackson, has pleaded to four years of probation in exchange for testifying truthfully in the case against Jackson.
Prosecutors revoked a plea offer of 25 years in prison for Jackson and indicated there would not be another as his January trial approaches. Smith was relocated to another facility for his well-being until then. If he cooperates at trial, he will be sentenced to 10 years in prison.
WEST PALM BEACH (AP) — Police in Florida and officials at St. Mary's Medical Center in West Palm Beach have agreed not to charge a teenager they caught posing as a doctor.
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports police were called Tuesday after a patient alerted staff at the medical center's OB/GYN office that a juvenile dressed in a lab coat was inside an exam room. The patient said the lab coat had St. Mary's logo and "anesthesiology" stitched on the front.
A security guard told police he'd seen the teen around the hospital for a month. Another said the teen entered secured areas of the hospital this week.
The teen told police he's been a doctor for years.
The teen's mother told police he's under the care of a doctor and is not taking his medicine.
BAYOU GEORGE — Construction crews are installing foundations and traffic camera support poles along U.S. 231 in Bay County for a new Intelligent Transportation System (ITS).
Drivers will encounter intermittent right lane closures on southbound U.S. 231, south of Elbel Road and south of Walden Road, on Wednesday. In addition, intermittent right lane closures are planned for northbound U.S. 231, north of Waller Road, and southbound U.S. 231, south of Camp Flowers Road, on Thursday.
The intermittent lane closures will occur primarily during daytime hours.
All planned construction activities are weather dependent and may be re-scheduled in the event of inclement weather.
LUTZ (AP) — It was a Florida prison inmate's escape that led investigators down a rabbit hole of sin involving a corrections officer and two strippers the sheriff says brokered deals for malt liquor, cigarettes and “conjugal visits in the woods.”
It all unfolded in September, when inmate Jason Adams escaped from a work crew in suburban Pasco County, about 30 miles north of downtown Tampa. The corrections officer overseeing the crew, Henry Blackwelder, didn't tell his superiors of the escape until three hours later. When investigators arrived, they found empty cans of Straw-Ber-Rita and Four Loko malt liquor, empty packets of synthetic marijuana known as “spice,” and a blanket in the woods used for hook-ups.
“Prison is supposed to be tough. ... It was basically a party out there,” Sheriff Chris Nocco said during a recent news conference.
Adams, who was serving a six-year sentence for burglary and grand theft when he escaped, was caught a day later riding a bicycle. He snuck away after asking to relieve himself in the woods and never coming back.
Nocco says his arrest unraveled the 45-year-old Blackwelder's scheme.
Blackwelder immediately resigned after the escape. According to a report, detectives found that Adams left the work crew on several occasions to buy booze, smokes and spice at Blackwelder's behest. Blackwelder would then get his work crew to smuggle the goods into the prison, the report said.
Blackwelder enlisted two exotic dancers who also worked at a convenience store, documents show, to help with the smuggling.
One of the women, 24-year-old Jessica Morgan, told deputies “she knew it was wrong” but did it because she had fallen in love with one of the inmates on the work crew. Morgan and 46-year-old Stacy Petty told officials they met with the inmates once a week for about a year.
Blackwelder was paid with cash and food for the contraband and would finish any leftovers from the food the two women brought for their inmate boyfriends, Nocco said.
“He was like Yogi bear out there eating their leftovers,” said Nocco, who held a news conference on Tuesday and stood behind a table stacked with contraband, including “Scooby Snax” spice packets.
Blackwelder was charged Tuesday with official misconduct, unlawful compensation for official behavior and smuggling contraband into a state correctional facility. He was released on bail Wednesday. It is not clear if he has an attorney.
Morgan and Petty were charged with introducing contraband into a state correctional facility, giving alcohol to an inmate, and giving articles of food and clothing to an inmate. They are both being held on $20,000 bond at the Pasco County Jail, and records do not list an attorney for them.
Nocco noted that the work crew trysts went on even after Blackwelder resigned, leading Nocco to wonder if there aren't more corrections officers involved.
“The department is currently reviewing all policies and procedures related to community work squads to ensure the safety, supervision and security of all inmates and staff,” the state Department of Corrections said in a statement.
PANAMA CITY — When Terry Lewis got out of prison last fall, he headed straight for what sent him there.
“I started drinking many years ago, and it got out of hand many years ago,” Lewis said. “The last time I got out of prison was Sept. 12 of last year, and I got all messed up again and stayed messed up for about three weeks.”
Upon awakening in a detox facility, he decided to make a change.
“On the sixth of October, God sent this man,” Lewis said, motioning toward Pastor Robert Flores, the founder and director of Right Way Ministries in Panama City. “I asked if they would give me a chance. ... He has, and I’m not the same man that I was.”
Right Way Ministries opened its doors last May as a men’s residential treatment facility, centered around a 14-course, Biblically-based curriculum. The center now has about 20 residents focused on getting their lives back on track.
“It doesn’t matter who you are; addiction is really killing people right now,” Flores said. “There’s got to be somewhere for them to go to get help, and that’s what we offer here.”
After 16 years of working in recovery ministries, Flores said he felt called to the vacant building on the corner of Everitt Avenue and East 11th Street, where he started Right Way Ministries last spring.
“It was a disaster when I walked in, but it was almost like the Lord said, ‘This is it; this is the place,’ ” he said. “I took every bit of my money, everything I had. ... God told me to give it all.”
The long-term program focuses on pinpointing the underlying causes of addiction, which Flores said sets it apart from other programs. Participants also are offered the opportunity to participate in a GED program and receive help with college prep courses, as well as one-on-one counseling and family counseling with the center’s pastors.
“It helps a man in more areas than just addiction,” Flores said. “We’re focused on the root causes, and as we focus on the root causes, the surface issues begin to vanish.”
With a capacity of 26 and a cost of $1,500 to house a student, the ministry now relies on sponsorships from local churches, organizations and students’ family members to get by, but Flores hopes to someday operate the center as a free facility to help answer the great need in the community.
“That’s how we’re able to fund this thing. It’s people that believe in what we’re doing,” Flores said. “It’s unbelievable, the need here in this community.”
For Lewis and several others enrolled in the program, the experience has been life changing.
Although he admits he still struggles with addiction every day, Lewis keeps busy working in the ministry’s kitchen and learning as a student and intern. He hopes to someday help keep men from going down the same dark path he took for many years.
“It’s a hard walk, but it’s well worth it,” Lewis said. “I will never be able to repay Right Way Ministries.”
PANAMA CITY — A Bay County judge has sentenced a Texas man to 15 years in prison for an armed robbery attempt, officials said Friday.
Conroy Orlando Thomas, 30, of Houston, was sentenced Friday to the maximum of 15 years in prison for an attempted armed robbery. During his trial last month, prosecutors showed the jury that Thomas and three other men came to Panama City from Texas to collect money from O’Neil Dwight Richards.
They approached Richards the morning of June 18 outside his Everitt Avenue home; Thomas put a gun to his ribs and told him to stay quiet or he would kill him and Richards’ family.
Instead, Richards struggled and made enough noise to attract the attention of several neighbors, who came outside and ended the attack. The four men were arrested later that day when neighbors noticed them parked in a car near Richards’ house.
A co-defendant of Thomas testified the four men were sent to Panama City by a woman in Texas who claimed Richards stole $27,000 from her. Richards denied he stole the money.
At the sentencing Friday, Thomas said he had a “minimal role” in the incident, but Assistant State Attorney Megan Ford called him the ringleader and the only one with a gun.
Circuit Judge James Fensom ordered Thomas to prison for 15 years, with a minimum mandatory of 10 years.
According to court records, Thomas was charged with first-degree murder in Fort Lauderdale in 2005 but was acquitted at trial.
MELBOURNE (AP) — A shooting Saturday morning at a mall in central Florida left two people dead and one other injured, police said.
After responding to reports around 9:30 a.m. of multiple shots fired inside the Melbourne Square Mall, police tweeted that the “shooter is contained” and that officers were clearing the mall store by store.
It wasn't immediately clear whether the suspect was dead or injured, Cmdr. Vince Pryce said.
Police say the injured victim was hospitalized in stable condition with a gunshot wound and cooperating with investigators.
Authorities have not released the names of the suspects or the victims.
Melbourne Mayor Kathy Meehan told Florida Today that police officials have told her that the shooting followed a domestic dispute between a woman who worked at the mall's food court and her husband.
The mall was evacuated, and officials said it would remain closed while police continue to investigate.
Officers reported hearing gunshots as they arrived on scene, but no other threats were located after a search of the building store by store, police said.
Local television news broadcasts showed yellow police tape stretched across a mall entrance and the parking lot.
Donna Evans of Melbourne said she was in the food court when she heard gunfire about 20 feet to 25 feet away.
“We had just gotten our food to sit down by Starbucks and Chik-fil-A, and you just hear the ‘pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop,’ and you just drop everything and your body just makes you run,” Evans told Florida Today.
Information is provided by the Bay County Sheriff’s Office on people arrested on charges Jan. 8-13. Those arrested can contact The News Herald if charges are dropped or if they are acquitted. Addresses are those given by the defendant during arrest.
Heather Kristie Harris, 35, 1516 Arthur Ave., Panama City, possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver, possession or use of narcotic equipment
Victoria Neshell Jenkins, 20, 825 Bay Ave., Panama City, possession of weapon or ammunition by felon
Ronnie Earl Jr Bass, 37, 19817 Timbercrest Road, Fountain, possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver, possession or use of narcotic equipment
Theresa Ann Gaudette, 48, 16827 Eastwood Drive, Fountain, possession or use of narcotic equipment
Jason Brian Anderson, 36, 10720 Happville Road, Youngstown, possession or use of narcotic equipment
Kevin Scott Staten, 51, 7441 Harvey St., Panama City, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without the intent to kill
Jarvis Lorent Dunlap, 34, 609 Cactus Ave., Panama City, possession of cocaine, aggravated stalking
Calvin Finnegan Chester, 25, 228 Oxford Ave., Panama City Beach, burglary
Rekenda Denay Gaines, 35, 1131 Harrison Ave., Panama City, possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver, possession or use of narcotic equipment, possession of weapon or ammunition by felon
Robert Lee Lawrence, 61, 642 E. 10th St., Panama City, aggravated battery
Jason Eric May, 31, 3329 Ten Acre Road, Panama City, possession of synthetic narcotics with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver, possession of weapon or ammunition by felon, possession of controlld substance without prescription, possession of marijuana
Victoria Noel Burns, 27, 700 Transmitter Road, Panama City, possession of controlled substance without prescription
Joel Thomas Jr Gaskin, 35, 5816 Hwy 77, Chipley, burglary
Lecia Carol Lee, 46, 1701 Hamilton Ave., Panama City, aggravated battery causing bodily harm or disability
Dustin Ray Garland, 30, aggravated assault
Jeffrey Christopher Skovran, 35, 139 Downing St., Panama City Beach, felony or domestic battery by strangulation
Zachary Tyler Campbell, 20, 2724 Jamedon Drive, Panama City, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver, possession or use of narcotic equipment, possession of controlled substance without prescription
Floyd Jermaine Tubbs, 30, 6300 Tammy Lane, Panama City, felony or domestic battery by strangulation
Darrin Wayne Hostetler, 26, 7031 Copenhagen Drive, Panama City, grand theft
Calvin Howard Dorn, 43, 609 Allen Ave., Panama City, felony or domestic battery by strangulation
Clayton Merrill Brown, 24, 231 Rose Lane, Panama City Beach, possession of heroin with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver
Jesse Ray Mccuin, 25, Perkington, Miss., burglary
Joshua Ryan Carr, 21, 6116 E. Hwy 98, Panama City, possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver, possession or use of narcotic equipment
Herbert George Monnin, 55, 1914 Louis Ave., Panama City, possession of controlled substance without prescription
Willie Daundre Tripp, 32, 3530 E. First Court, Springfield, possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver, possession or use of narcotic equipment
Matthew Aaron Cronk, 26, 1210 Stephen Drive, Panama City, possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver
Hien Khac Nguyen, 24, 2203 Andrews Road, Lynn Haven, possession or use of narcotic equipment, possession of controlled substance without a prescription
Gisele Renee St Angelo, 27, 1100 Tech Drive, Lynn Haven, possession or use of narcotic equipment
Shanique Lashay Davis, 22, 1701 Hamilton Ave., Panama City, possession or use of narcotic equipment
Julie Ann Forren, 52, 7618 Old Bicycle Road, Panama City, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without the intent to kill
Molly Elizabeth Bush, 38, 4535 E. Hwy 98, Panama City, child neglect without great bodily harm
PANAMA CITY — Police continued investigating a crash on U.S. 231 on Friday in which a vehicle struck a pedestrian.
The pedestrian, whose name was not released, was struck by a silver Toyota pickup truck at 7:39 p.m. on Friday while walking on the shoulder of the northbound lanes, the Panama City Police Department reported in a press release four hours after the crash. The pedestrian suffered serious injuries and was transported to a local hospital, PCPD reported.
The name of the driver also wasn’t released and no other details were available as of Saturday afternoon.
Orange crime scene markers lined tire tracks along the grass shoulder up to where the truck had stopped just south of Transmitter Road Friday night. The truck had front end damage and various items were scattered in the grass among the markers.
Anyone who was in the area or witnessed the crash is asked to contact case agent Officer John Pauga at (850) 872-3100.