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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. Suspect in robbery of Brandon woman, 86, has been arrested more than 40 times


    BRANDON — One spring day in 2012, Marcus Wayne Hunt walked out the of Orient Road jail a free man after posting bail on a charge of fleeing from police and driving without a license

    Sixteen minutes later and 1.4 miles away, he walked up to a 34-year-old man, struck him in the face and stole his bike. He was later sentenced to five years in prison, his third stint in Florida, and was released in March....

    Marcus Hunt, 28, has been arrested more than 40 times in Florida since the age of nine and has served three prison stints, records show. On Monday, deputies say, Hunt followed an 86-year-old woman home from Walmart and stole her purse at gunpoint while she was unloading groceries from the trunk of her car. 
[Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  2. Southern Heritage group draws fire for posting personal information of Confederate statue opponents


    TAMPA — Curtiss Wilson is an 89-year-old Tampa resident who fought in the civil rights movement.

    But in a "survey" posted to the web recently by Save Southern Heritage Florida, Wilson is listed as a "resentful black woman." Her phone number and street address are included.

    Charles "Fred" Hearns is a historian who grew up in Tampa and moved to St. Petersburg three years ago . In the survey, Hearns is listed as a "resentful black man" who was "imported" from Pinellas County to tell the Hillsborough County Commission to remove the Confederate monument in front of the old Hillsborough County courthouse....

    Doug Guetzloe, seen here in a 2005 photos, is an Orlando anti-tax activist and a board member for Save Southern Heritage Florida. Guetzloe said the report is "opposition research" meant to educate elected officials about who spoke against moving the Confederate monument from in front of the old Hillsborough County courthouse in Tampa.
Dennis Wall/Orlando Sentinel)
  3. Temple Terrace Citizen of Year skips his awards banquet in protest of Confederate event


    TEMPLE TERRACE — Travis Malloy was supposed to show up to the Temple Terrace Golf and Country Club on Thursday to pick up his Citizen of the Year award at the Chamber of Commerce banquet.

    Instead, Malloy stayed away in protest.

    The club, he recently learned, will be hosting a "Southern Heritage" event with a "War on the South" program on Sept. 2.

    "While it is their absolute right to do that, I do not want to lend my support to a club that would host such a group," Malloy, who was honored for starting community gardens and a farmers market, wrote on a Facebook page. ...

    Travis Malloy declined to collect his Citizen of the Year award at the Temple Terrace Golf and Country Club on Thursday to protest the club's decision to host a Southern Heritage event with a War on the South program Sept. 2. Malloy was honored for starting community gardens and a farmers market. [Temple Terrace Chamber of Commerce]
  4. Trump 'beautiful statues' tweets roil Tampa Bay's own Confederate debate


    It started Thursday at 9:07 a.m., as it does so often these days, with a tweet:

    "Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments. You....." President Donald Trump tweeted.

    The president's comments again roiled a nation still reeling from the violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville this past weekend and Trump's own failure to immediately condemn neo-Nazis....

    The Memoria in Aeterna Confederate monument stands in front of the old Hillsborough County Courthouse. Hillsborough County Commissioners voted 4-2 last month to move it to a private cemetery in Brandon before voting again this week to put a deadline on a public sector fundraising campaign to pay part of the cost. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  5. Judge denies bail for woman accused in Selmon crash that killed three


    TAMPA — As gruesome images of burned bodies flashed across the screen, Amber Perera put her head down on the desk and cried.

    Last week, authorities say, the 29-year-old Brandon woman caused a chain reaction crash on the Leroy Selmon Expressway that caused a Hyundai sedan to burst into flames, killing a couple and their young daughter. Now, in Hillsborough County courtroom, Perera was getting her first look at the aftermath....

    Police say Amber Perera was under the influence of prescription medication when she crashed her Kia into the back of the Hyundai sedan, left, on the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway, sending it into oncoming traffic and causing it to crash into two other cars, including the blue Jeep, before bursting into flames. Luiz and Rita Felipak and their daughter Giorgia, 8, were in the Hyundai and died at the scene. [Tampa Police Department]
  6. Hillsborough commissioners renew monument debate while St. Petersburg swiftly moves Confederate marker


    Without public comment or deliberation, St. Petersburg officials on Tuesday quietly removed an obscure reminder of the Confederacy sitting on the city's downtown waterfront.

    Meanwhile, a debate over the future of Tampa's Confederate monument — one that began long before last weekend's violent white nationalist protests in Charlottesville, Va., but persists today — will likely continue during today's Hillsborough County Commission meeting....

    Mayor Rick Kriseman said the quiet removal of the obscure plaque was done in the interest of public safety.
  7. New Hampshire authorities say Tampa man is suspect in camping murder cold case


    TAMPA — One day during the summer of 1984, two friends went camping in New England. One returned, and the other, 25-year-old Christopher Bird, is still missing.

    Now the second camper, Richard Brunt, a man with ties to Tampa and a previous manslaughter conviction, is a suspect in Bird's murder, court records show.

    The cold case came to light in Hillsborough County through a summons issued by a New Hampshire judge ordering Brunt's son Samuel to testify before a grand jury last week....

    Christopher Bird, then 25, disappeared during a 1984 camping trip with his friend Richard Brunt.
  8. Volunteers stand guard over Confederate monument in downtown Tampa

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — With images of a toppled North Carolina statue fresh in their minds, members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans are now standing guard over the Confederate monument in front of the historic county courthouse in downtown Tampa.

    Several members of the group gathered at the courthouse Monday night to watch over "Memoria In Aeterna" after hearing rumors that activists were planning to try to topple it, said David McCallister, commander of the Sons of Confederate Veterans' Judah P. Benjamin Camp. ...

    Protesters climb the Confederate Memorial in Tampa on Sunday night after more than 200 people marched down the streets of downtown Tampa to protest white supremacy. Members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and Hillsborough Flaggers plan are standing guard now to protect the statute. [LUIS SANTANA   |   Times]
  9. Hillsborough deputy responding to call in Apollo Beach fatally shoots neighbor's dog

    Public Safety

    APOLLO BEACH — A Hillsborough County Sheriff's deputy fatally shot a dog Sunday after the dog charged, according to the Sheriff's Office.

    Deputies responding to a call about an open door at 315 Francis Drive arrived at the house about 1 p.m. and began to search the property, according to Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Debbie Carter. As deputies walked around the house, two dogs in a neighboring yard began to growl and bark as they tried to jump the fence, Carter said....

  10. Attorney: Driver had two seizures at work the day she killed family of three on Selmon Expressway

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — The driver who police say caused a fatal crash that killed a couple and their 8-year-old daughter on the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway had two seizures earlier in the day and one right before the crash, her attorney said Monday.

    Amber Nicole Perera faces three counts of DUI manslaughter, among other charges, for the crash Thursday that killed Luiz Felipak and, pending confirmation from the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner's Office, his wife Rita Felipak of Tampa and their 8-year-old daughter, Giorgia. But Perera blacked out during the seizure and was disoriented immediately after the crash, not intoxicated from her medication as Tampa police have charged, said defense attorney Hubbell Losson....

    Police say Luiz Felipak, 41, was one of three people killed Aug. 10 in a hit-and-run crash on the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway. The other two victims have been tentatively identified as his wife Rita Filipak, 29, and daughter Giorgia Felipak, 8. [Facebook]
  11. Deputies investigating vandalism at Confederate Memorial Park in Tampa


    TAMPA — The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office is investigating after granite monuments at the site of the massive Confederate flag that flies over Interstate 75 were vandalized over the weekend.

    Deputies responding about 11 a.m. Sunday to a vandalism call at Confederate Memorial Park, 10418 Highway 92 East, discovered red paint had been thrown on all of the granite memorial pillars, said Debbie Carter, a spokeswoman for the Sheriff's Office. There were also derogatory comments written in paint on the memorial....

    Deputies are investigating a case of vandalism at Confederate Memorial Park in Tampa. Red paint was splashed on all of the memorial's granite pillars, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

[JIM REED/Times files]
  12. Oldsmar man accused of offering Tampa cop $10,000 to get out of pot, DUI arrest


    TAMPA — The officer, it seemed, had made up his mind. Michael Schaedel was going to jail.

    Arrested about midnight Wednesday on suspicion of driving under the influence and marijuana possession, all that was left for Schaedel was a patrol car ride to central booking.

    But Schaedel made a list-ditch effort to buy his freedom, according to an arrest report: He offered Officer Douglass Bailey $10,000 to let him go....

  13. Valrico pet resort owner loses five of her own dogs in fire (w/video)


    VALRICO — Betsy Hicka ran into her burning home and spotted her standard poodle Lacey lying by the door.

    The fluffy white matriarch of an award-winning show dog family looked liked she was sleeping. Hicka scooped her up and ran outside.

    "But she was already gone," Hicka said Wednesday morning as she wiped tears from her cheek.

    Hicka tried to run back inside to save the four other dogs in the home but firefighters told her it was too dangerous. None of them survived....

    Five dogs were killed on Aug. 8, 2017, in a fire at a home adjacent to the Almost Home Pet Resort in Valrico. [TONY MARRERO | Times]
  14. Health care IT firm chooses Tampa for new office because trained workers are here


    TAMPA — Gov. Rick Scott swung through Tampa on Tuesday to celebrate the opening of Think Anew's first Florida location.

    The company, based in Madison, Miss., specializes in providing information technology infrastructure and support to health care companies and just moved into a suite at an office park on Tech Boulevard, off Columbus Drive.

    The company picked Tampa over locations in Florida and in other states mainly because of its stream of potential workers coming from local colleges and universities, said Don Glidewell, Think Anew's chief executive officer....

    Florida Gov. Rick Scott announces the creation of new jobs at the new offices of Think Anew in Tampa. The Mississippi company specializes in IT services for small to midsize healthcare companies. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  15. Valrico man charged with DUI manslaughter in November crash that killed passenger


    TAMPA — A 25-year-old Valrico man has been arrested and charged in a fatal crash that killed his passenger last November.

    Andrew John Wallace Jr. was under the influence of alcohol when he crashed a 2003 Nissan 350Z on Brandon Parkway on Nov. 23, killing 23-year-old Ivan Ordonez, court records state. Wallace was arrested on a warrant Friday and charged with DUI manslaughter.

    Wallace was driving east at a high speed about 12:20 a.m. when he lost control at a right curve in the roadway near Pauls Drive, records state. The Nissan struck a raised concrete median and the car's passenger door slammed into a palm tree....