TAMPA — One was a 22-year-old African American man. The other was a 32-year-old white woman.
Both died mysteriously of gunshot wounds in southeast Seminole Heights last week. Now police are asking nervous residents to be alert, avoid walking alone at night and to come forward with any information that might help solve the crimes....
10/16/17 Public Safety
NEW PORT RICHEY — The Pasco County Sheriff's Office is taking steps to turn some of its jail deputies into federal immigration agents.
Sheriff Chris Nocco has signed an agreement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to join a controversial program that give deputies the power to check the immigration status of people booked into the county jail and to serve warrants on suspected undocumented inmates — a process that could lead to deportation....
TAMPA — A 32-year-old Miami man has been charged with murder in connection with the April shooting death of Darius Jaquan Harris, court records show.
Zachary Alexander Williams was arrested Thursday in Sarasota County and booked into the Hillsborough County Jail on charges of first degree murder and illegally possessing a firearm as a felon, jail records show.
According to a Hillsborough County grand jury indictment filed Sept. 28, Williams shot Harris, 24, "with a premeditated design" on April 23....
TAMPA — Police are investigating after a 22-year-old Tampa man was fatally shot in East Tampa.
Officers found Benjamin Edward Mitchell lying near the bus stop at 15th Street and East Frierson Avenue about 9 a.m. with at least one gunshot wound, according to Tampa police. Mitchell was taken to a local hospital, where he later died from his injuries.
Detectives were working Tuesday to identify a suspect and motive in the shooting....
Hela Garcia and her mother, Gloria Ferrales, sat on folding chairs Monday under a small white tent, taking a brief respite from the midday sun beating down on the Plant City Stadium grounds.
A few minutes earlier, mother and daughter had walked out of another tent with a debit card that Ferrales will use to buy nearly $400 worth of food over the next two months. The money, courtesy of the federal government, is meant to help the 87-year-old disabled Tampa resident make up for the frozen steaks and other provisions she had to throw out when Hurricane Irma knocked out power at her home for three days....
10/02/17 Public Safety
PLANT CITY — A man fatally shot by Plant City police officers in July came at one in a "shooting stance" with a glass pipe and a rolled-up shirt in his hands, but officers feared he was holding a gun.
These details are included in a Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigative report that the Hillsborough State Attorney's Office used in part to decide that officers Gerald Baker and Derek Hartmann were justified in shooting 35-year-old Jesus Cervantes on July 6. ...
09/29/17 Public Safety
TAMPA — It wasn't too long ago, in career terms, that Hillsborough Sheriff David Gee called Col. Chad Chronister into an office and asked if he'd try to succeed him.
Chronister said yes. On Friday, he took over sooner than anyone expected.
As Gee and a roomful of friends, family, dignitaries and Sheriff's Office staff watched, Chronister took the oath of office.
"It is truly an honor, and I know what a privilege it is to be the sheriff of Hillsborough County," Chronister, 49, told an audience of about 150 people after taking the oath in the cavernous Courtroom 1 of the Edgecomb Courthouse....
Oxalis Garcia finally heard her father's voice on Sunday, when he managed to get through to the mainland four days after Hurricane Maria ravaged the island of Puerto Rico.
Augusto Garcia did not sound like the strong man his daughter knew.
Things are really bad over here. Please get me a plane ticket.
"He is very reserved, but for the first time in my life, I could hear the concern and the desperation in his voice," said Garcia, a 37-year-old St. Petersburg attorney. "To see him so vulnerable, it was very emotional for me."...
TAMPA — A charter school teacher was arrested Sunday after, police say, she fired a gun into the ground during a dispute with her boyfriend.
Melody Patrice Bing, a teacher at Vision of Excellence Academy, fired at least two rounds from a silver handgun during an argument with her boyfriend about 1 p.m. in a vacant lot behind 402 W Columbus Drive, according to a Tampa police arrest report....
TAMPA — Jessica Steinbrenner, a top executive with the New York Yankees and a daughter of the team's late owner George Steinbrenner, is seeking a restraining order against her ex-husband.
In a petition filed in Hillsborough County last week, Steinbrenner alleges that Felix M. Lopez Jr. has been stalking her since their marriage formally ended in February. According to the complaint, Lopez has made unwelcome attempts to contact Steinbrenner by calling, sending text messages and making at least two unannounced visits to her Tampa home earlier this month....
TAMPA — Brenda Irizarry is worried.
By Thursday afternoon, more than 24 hours after Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico and tore across the island, the Tampa woman had not heard from any relatives who live there. But she had seen images of the devastation the storm left in its wake.
"I'm numb," Irizarry said. "It doesn't look like my home, and I'm scared for them."
Irizarry is among many Tampa Bay area Puerto Ricans channeling their nervous energy into relief efforts, collecting supplies to send to the island in the coming days and weeks. It keeps them busy between efforts to reach family across the divide created by the island's ravaged communication infrastructure....
TAMPA — As Hurricane Maria swirled in the Atlantic Ocean, Sarykarmen Rivera got a call from her parents in Puerto Rico. They had an ominous message.
We think it's going to make a direct hit here.
"I try to be the strong daughter, but I have to admit I started sobbing when I hung up the phone," Rivera, a Riverview journalist and on-air personality for iHeart Radio's Rumba 106.5, said Tuesday about the weekend phone call. "I told my husband that this is the big one that people have been talking about for years."...
TAMPA — Matthew Downey and his wife were standing in an alley near their home at Westshore Yacht Club on Saturday night when a neighbor called them over to his car.
Then, a flash of gunfire. Moments later, the 57-year-old father of three was dead.
The shooter, Tampa police say, was Brian Baker, who lives in a condominium two doors down from Downey and his wife Susan at 5919 Bowen Daniel Drive....
When the worst of Hurricane Irma's howling winds subsided, the generators began to emit their telltale drone, like 4,000-watt cicadas emerging from slumber.
The calls to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office soon followed.
"Neighbor has his generator running and it's keeping him awake," a Sheriff's Office dispatcher typed into a log during a call with a Palm Harbor man at 11:55 p.m. on Monday....
TAMPA — It's a forecast authorities can make with confidence: As soon as hurricanes blow through, the scammers emerge and get to work.
They say they're collecting money for storm victims and keep it. They pretend to be storm victims, sometimes stealing actual victims' identities, to snag recovery money. They pass themselves off as licensed contractors, receive payment and then botch the job or perform no work at all....