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Tony Marrero, Times Staff Writer

Tony Marrero

Tony Marrero covers breaking news and general assignment stories in Hillsborough County. A Baltimore native, he joined the Times in 2009.

Phone: (813) 226-3374


Twitter: @TMarreroTimes

  1. Memorial service sparks wistful memories for daughter of slain Hillsborough deputy

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — As the somber notes of taps sounded in a stiff breeze, Sherri Longway thought about her father.

    She wondered if her dad, Hillsborough Sheriff's Deputy Mark Longway, was looking down on her as she sat in the Sheriff's Office memorial plaza in Ybor City, steps from the glass panels commemorating her father and 15 other Hillsborough deputies who have died in the line of service....

    A Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office honor guard stands near a memorial wreath during the agency’s annual Law Enforcement Memorial Service on Wednesday in Ybor City area Tampa.
  2. Sharing extreme views, neo-Nazis sometimes convert to radical Islam


    It sounds like an unlikely leap of faith: a neo-Nazi converting to Islam.

    But according to records and at least one friend who knew him, that's what 18-year-old Devon Arthurs did about a year before he allegedly killed two roommates in a Tampa Palms apartment on Friday. According to police report, Arthurs said he previously had neo-Nazi beliefs in common with Jeremy Himmelman and Andrew Oneschuk, but shot them Friday because they disrespected his new faith. Arthurs also said he was angry about anti-Muslim sentiment and the United States bombing Muslim countries. ...

    Devon Arthurs, 18, told police  he shared neo-Nazi beliefs with his roommates, Jeremy Himmelman and Andrew Oneschuk, until he converted to Islam, according to a police report .
[Tampa Police]
  3. Roommates in Tampa Palms slaying case never outgrew Nazi sympathies, friend says


    TAMPA — Like most people, Watson Fincher was shocked to hear that a neo-Nazi turned jihadi stands accused of killing his two Tampa Palms roommates, and that a fourth roommate told federal agents he, too, was a neo-Nazi — with bomb materials and a plan to target infrastructure.

    But unlike most people, Fincher, 24, who lives in the Houston area, says he knows both the defendants — Devon Arthurs, 18, charged with two counts of murder in the shooting deaths of his roommates, and Brandon Russell, 21, a Florida National Guardsman accused of illegal possession of explosives....

    Authorities investigating a double murder Friday in the Hampton at Tampa Palms complex found explosives and bomb-manking materials in an apartment there. [ANASTASIA DAWSON   |   Times]
  4. 'Neo-Nazi' in Florida National Guard arrested after explosives found at Tampa Palms murder scene


    TAMPA — A man accused of shooting his two roommates Friday in a Tampa Palms apartment told police he shared neo-Nazi beliefs with the men until he converted to Islam then killed them because they showed disrespect for his faith.

    The revelations weren't over.

    Officers found a garage stocked with bomb materials as they arrived to investigate the double homicide, leading to federal explosive charges against Brandon Russell — a Florida National Guardsman and admitted neo-Nazi who kept a framed photo of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh on his dresser....

    Authorities investigating a double murder Friday in the Hampton at Tampa Palms complex found explosives and bomb-manking materials in an apartment there. [ANASTASIA DAWSON   |   Times]
  5. Undercover drug buy leads to 58 shots and changes in Hillsborough Sheriff's policies (w/video)


    RUSKIN — It was supposed to be a quick undercover cocaine buy in a Wendy's parking lot. Make the transaction, let the seller walk and arrest him later.

    Then, with the cock of a gun, everything changed.

    "Just give me the . . . cash," 19-year-old Efren Esparza-Lopez told an undercover Hillsborough Sheriff's Office detective that December day, according to newly released records. ...

    In this slide from an internal Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office report, a Chevy Lumina is riddled with bullets fired by detectives during a shootout at a Ruskin Wendy's on Dec. 6, 2016. One of the men inside, Efren Esparza-Lopez, tried to rob an undercover detective during a drug buy and then started shooting when backup detectives arrived, deputies say.
  6. Want to bag a gator? The first chance to apply for a permit is underway


    It's almost gator hunting season in Florida.

    But before you board a johnboat, arm yourself with your weapon of choice and scan the swamp for scaly quarry, you need a state license and permit. And the first opportunity apply for a permit is now.

    The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission opened the first phase of its application period on Friday. The deadline is May 22. The other application phases begin on May 26, June 9 and June 22....

    An American alligator shows off its teeth as it basks in the sun in a South Florida wetlands area. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission has opened its first application period for permits for the annual alligator harvest. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  7. Worker drowns after falling into water near Tampa Convention Center

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — A man drowned Monday after falling into the water while working on a dock near the Tampa Convention Center, authorities said.

    Johnnie Norton, 53, was pressure washing the dock around 11 a.m. when he fell in and did not resurface, according to Tampa police. A bystander jumped in to try to help but could not find Norton.

    Tampa police divers arrived and searched for several minutes before recovering Norton from under the surface. He was pronounced dead at Tampa General Hospital....

  8. Local attorneys say more immigrants seeking legal status are falling prey to shady consultants

    Public Safety

    The man said he had buenas noticias. Good news.

    Ines, a 36-year-old Mexican migrant worker in Plant City, had come to a Tampa hotel to talk to a lawyer about getting legal status. Other attorneys had said she had no path to citizenship, but this man, who said he worked for a Miami lawyer, told her she could gain legal status and then petition the government for her husband, too. The couple handed over $4,000 in cash, money they had saved from working in the strawberry fields....

    Diana Castro, center, an attorney for the Redlands Christian Migrant Association, and Jaqueline Cruz, a family support worker, meet with a client Friday at the group’s Plant City center.
  9. As construction looms, a lone South Tampa peacock needs a new place to roost (w/video)

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — Lori Maloney walked across the sandy lot, shaking a bag of fruit and lettuce and scanning a cluster of trees.

    It was breakfast time.

    "Big Bird!" Maloney called, shaking the bag again.

    "Big Bird!"

    Then she spotted him: a green peacock standing on a high limb of a tall oak tree at the back of the lot. The bird extended his feathered tail, its blue-green colors shimmering in the golden light. ...

    “Big Bird” pauses during breakfast Thursday. The peacock stays close to a now-empty lot in South Tampa’s Virginia Park neighborhood after his adopted home was demolished.
  10. Tampa Fire Rescue crews rescue crane operator high above downtown construction site (w/video)

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — Emergency crews rescued a crane operator Wednesday morning after he suffered a medical episode high above a downtown construction site.

    The rescue unfolded about 10 stories above the 1100 block of Twiggs Street about 9:30 a.m. after the operator couldn't get down himself, said Tampa Fire Rescue Capt. Brian Eichholz.

    Crews lowered the crane operator to the ground in a stretcher basket about 10:15 and an ambulance rushed him to a local hospital. Authorities did not release the man's name or the type of medical episode. His condition was not immediately available. ...

    Tampa Fire Rescue crews used a basket stretcher to lower a crane operator from the top of this crane Tuesday after he suffered a medical episode.
  11. Tampa police release names of driver, passengers involved in fatal early-morning crash


    TAMPA — Police say speed was a factor in a two-car crash on W Waters Avenue that killed a 21-year-old Tampa woman and sent three other people to the hospital.

    Aryelle M. Oxendine was driving west on Waters between El Portal Drive and N Edison Avenue about 2:30 a.m. when her 2007 Mazda collided with a 1999 Lexus sedan, Tampa police said. Both cars veered off the road.

    The Mazda struck a fence, sign posts and a billboard support and came to rest against the Center of Transformation Church at 1001 W Waters Ave. The Lexus struck a utility pole....

  12. Trainer's license revoked after greyhounds test positive for cocaine at Derby Lane


    UPDATE: Derby Lane on Friday released the following statement:

    “Derby Lane promotes responsible racing and provides individual kennel facilities for each greyhound operation contracted to race in St. Petersburg. Kennel Owners are expected to adhere to the guidelines set forth by the American Greyhound Council and the National Greyhound Association, as well as Derby Lane track rules and policies. Greyhounds are monitored by the State of Florida Dept. of Business and Professional Regulation. In a perfect world, there would be no need for rules, but those that don’t comply are dealt with and are not welcome to race at Derby Lane....

    The state revoked Malcolm McAllister's parimutuel racing license after five of his greyhounds tested positive for cocaine after running races in January, state records show.
  13. Police make arrest in South Tampa shooting


    TAMPA — A 21-year-old man has been arrested after police said he shot a man in the groin in South Tampa.

    Police said Ivan Diaz shot the victim around 2 p.m. Wednesday during an argument. He fled the scene at South Dale Mabry Highway and Ohio Avenue, but was caught by police minutes later, several blocks away.

    The shooting briefly put nearby Robinson High School on lockdown. The victim was taken to the hospital with injuries that did not appear to be life-threatening, Tampa police spokesman Steve Hegarty said....

  14. University of Tampa divers help pull up nearly 100 pounds of Gasparilla beads from Seddon Channel


    TAMPA — In the murky depths off Davis Islands, Matt Gamache scanned the bottom of the Seddon Channel for sunken trash that had once been treasure.

    And there it was, like a string of colorful pearls nestled among the silt-covered rocks and oyster shells: a strand of Gasparilla beads. The University of Tampa freshman gently pulled with a gloved hand, the single necklace having become entangled with several other strands. He placed the plastic baubles in a mesh bag and continued his hunt....

    Five members of the University of Tampa diving club pose with some of the nearly 100 pounds of Gasparilla beads they helped fish from the bottom of the Seddon Channel on April 23. The students were among 25 divers who volunteered for the inaugural Gasp-Our Beads cleanup and survey project. From left are Matt Gamache, Stephanie Walker, Ally Marter, Josh Santucci-Smith and Brianna Sierra.
  15. Polk deputies: Boy, 13, dies after drunk former cop plows into five kids at school bus stop


    Jonathan "J.J." Quintana's daughter called him after she stepped off the school bus Thursday, just like she always does, to let him know she was walking home.

    Then she started screaming.

    "Dad, dad, help me!" said Quintana, a deputy with the Polk County Sheriff's Office.

    Quintana sprinted barefoot a few blocks to the bus stop on Allegheny Road in Poinciana and saw children and backpacks scattered along the roadside. His daughter was okay, but she said a black car had hit the other kids and kept going....

    Jahiem Robertson, 13, died of his injuries at an Orlando hospital. His older sister was injured in the crash.