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Residents frustrated with Orange County Sheriff's Office response times

<p> Tau Nguyen is one of several people in the Hunter's Creek community upset about how long it has taken for the Orange County Sheriff's Office to respond to the community's calls for help.</p><p> "People go in the back forest here, and I called the police, but by the time they get here, they're gone," Nguyen said.</p><p> Nguyen said he and his neighbors are frustrated. At times, OCSO deputies take more than 30 minutes to arrive after they call for help.</p><p> Nguyen wasn't surprised when Local 6 told him it took deputies nearly a full hour -- 59 minutes -- to respond to a call from one of his neighbors reporting a man with a rifle in their community park.</p><p> "There were just two guys walking through a residential park with a firearm," the caller said, according to a May 911 call released Tuesday night by the Sheriff's Office.</p><p> "They were walking with a rifle," the caller continued. "And they ended up jumping the fence and going back into undeveloped territory."</p><p> "So you actually saw them walking with a rifle?" the dispatcher asked.</p><p> "Yes, ma'am, I have video," the caller said. "I videotaped it."</p><p> [WEB EXTRA: <a href="/news/911-call/34410212" target="_self">911 call</a>]</p><p> Nguyen said, "I'm not that surprised because I've called them myself and it's taken them a while to get here, too."</p><p> Local 6 has been investigating the issue for weeks. When Local 6 anchor Lisa Bell visited the neighborhood, she met a mom jogging around the park just after she ran by what she called suspicious activity. She was so concerned she too called for help.</p><p> "I live here in Hunter's Creek and there's some kids smoking pot right next to Lake Vista," she told dispatchers.</p><p> Local 6 producer Sean Lavin waited on scene to see how long it took for deputies to respond to her call. Thirty-five minutes later, a deputy arrived, but the kids were gone.</p><p> Local 6 reviewed Orange County calls for service records from June 2014 until June 2015 and found 25,455 suspicious persons calls during that time. In about 20 percent of those cases, the suspicious people were listed as "GOA," or "gone on arrival" of the deputies.</p><p> Bell asked Sheriff's Office spokesman Jeff Williamson if the wait times, including the nearly 1 hour wait in response to a man with a rifle, were acceptable.</p><p> "Yes, if there's a major incident somewhere else, yes, an hour -- two (is acceptable)," Williamson said. "If there's a major incident somewhere else, with known subjects, known bad guys with guns going into a residence, (responding to) a suicide."</p><p> On the day the man called about a rifle in his neighborhood, Williamson explained the deputies were already responding to two other calls -- a suicide and an armed burglary -- and those took priority.</p><p> "A burglary to a dwelling, guys with guns?" Williamson asked. "Come on. We're going to do that first."</p><p> Williamson added that once the more major call clears, "We're going to that call where there may have been a person going into the woods with a gun."</p><p> "They want you to speak up, but then when you call them, sometimes it can be frustrating to wait for a long time for them to get here," Nguyen said.</p><p> But the Sheriff's Office said the calls must be prioritized and the office has enough deputies on the street to handle calls in a timely fashion.</p><p> When, personally, we don't get what we want, it's frustrating, I get it," Williamson said. "But know that the Orange County Sheriff's Office ... has not forgotten you, has not forgotten that call, will not forget that call and people will get in trouble when those calls are forgotten."</p><p> Even if they had more deputies on the street, Williamson said the higher priority calls still must be handled first.</p>

Published: Wed, 29 Jul 2015 03:31:11 GMT

Stranger breaks in, touches girl inside UCF apartment

<p> A young woman woke up to a stranger touching her while she was in bed at a new apartment complex at the Plaza on University.</p>

Published: Wed, 29 Jul 2015 03:50:28 GMT

Coast Guard continues search for teens lost at sea

<p> The U.S. Coast Guard has widened its search for the two 14-year-old boys lost at sea to Charleston, South Carolina.<br/></p><p> Perry Cohen and Austin Stephanos were supposed to go fishing Friday in the safety of the Jupiter Inlet off Palm Beach County. But they may have ran into a thunderstorm after posting on Snapchat that they were going to the Bahamas. </p><p> Coast Guard officials said on Tuesday evening that the crews have covered nearly 31,000 square nautical miles in the search for the boys, spanning from Jupiter, Florida to Charleston, South Carolina.</p><p> “We continue to search for the missing boys,” said Capt. Mark Fedor, chief of response for the Coast Guard 7th district, in a release. “We’re constantly reevaluating the situation to determine our next course of action, however as each hour goes by, the situation becomes dire.”</p><p> Fedor said Monday afternoon that the boys could probably survive four to five days at the current temperature.</p><p> "Basically your body will reduce your temperature depending on the water temperature, so it's the water temperature you really have to worry about," said Volusia County Beach Safety Captain Tammy Marris. "If you're in the water a long period of time, hours and hours, there's more of a chance to get hypothermia."</p><p> The rescue team -- which includes the U.S. Navy and Customs and Border Protection -- was "aggressively" searching for them, but they faced challenges, said Fedor.</p><p> The Coast Guard 7th District chief of enforcement also said that "when a person is in the water, you are basically looking for the chest up, so it’s a relatively small object you’re looking for." Coast Guard</p><p> Lt. Commander Gabe Somma added that there was "an awfully strong current." </p><p> "Oh it's nothing like a pool, nothing at all like a pool, zero visibility," said Richard Osburn, a commercial shark fisherman based in Port Orange. "It goes from glass calm to scary rough in the blink of an eye. And half the time you don't see it coming. And not to mention what we catch, what we catch lives out there too. These poor kids are floating around out there and there are sharks everywhere."</p><p> "I have a 13-year-old and a 14-year-old son at home, so this resonates obviously with me," Fedor said. "And I can empathize with the families that are involved."</p><p> The boys' families were optimistic. Perry's stepfather, Nick Korniloss, said the boys are strong swimmers, avid boaters and survivors. Austin's aunt, Norieta Stephanos, said he is resilient and fearless.</p><p> They were asking the public for help.</p><p> "Anyone that is located near the beaches from Jupiter, Florida, up the coast to the beaches of Georgia, please go out and walk your beaches," Perry's mom Pamela Cohen said on Instagram Monday.</p><p> They hoped debris could serve as clues.</p><p> Osburn, the commercial fisherman, said if the boys were wearing orange life vests and holding onto a cooler, as their families believe, they would be highly visible.</p><p> "You see a beach ball floating a mile away so you can be seen," said Osburn. "It's not a matter of they gotta be right on top of you to see you. We see balloons that cruise ships let go. It is easy to see something if you're actively looking."</p><p> On Sunday night, about 200 met to pray for a miracle at the gym of the Jupiter Christian School, where Austin was expected to go to school in the fall.</p><p> The boys' capsized 19-foot single-engine center console vessel turned up Sunday. The powerful Gulf Stream current pushed it north about 67 nautical miles off the Ponce de Leon Inlet in Volusia County.</p><p> There was one life jacket in the hull. Fedor said they weren't sure how many were in the boat to begin with.</p><p> "We are hopeful that they both have life jackets," Fedor said.</p><p> Since the engine cover and a white Yeti cooler were also missing from the vessel, relatives believe the boys could be using them to stay alive.</p><p> "We believe the boys made floating devices with the items missing from the boat,"a family flier said. The image was circulating on social media under the hashtag "Find Austin and Perry."</p><p> A commercial fisherman and the manager of Jib Yacht Club and Marina worried they may have been the last to see the boys. Joey Krizka told <a href="" target="_blank">The Palm Beach Post</a> reported that they only had $109 to pay for the $122 bill, which included 28 gallons of gas. Krizka told them they could pay him later because he saw them regularly.</p><p> Jim Dulin said he is a commercial fisherman with 20 years of experience. He said that he was heading toward the Jupiter Inlet Friday afternoon to turn away from a thunderstorm, when he saw two "crazy" kids going toward it.</p><p> "The storm was really black," Dulin said. "The temperature dropped and you could tell it was going to be a really mean one."</p>

Published: Tue, 28 Jul 2015 22:52:49 GMT

Oviedo High School teacher suspended over inappropriate relationship with student

<p> An Oviedo High School teacher and baseball coach has been suspended without pay for allegations he had<a href="" target="_blank"> an inappropriate relationship with a female student.</a></p><p> </p><p> Former Oviedo Baseball Coach Harold Hitt plans to fight the unpaid suspension and said his exchanges with a female student were not romantic.</p><p> "First and foremost, I deny all charges that I sought a romantic relationship with a student," Hitt told the Seminole County School Board Tuesday evening.</p><p> Hitt exchanged 124 private Facebook messages with an 18-year-old female student over the course of a year. The district said many of those messages crossed the line including, "I still love ya, my little bae, hugs needed," and smiley faces on the end of the messages with hearts for eyes, and blowing kisses.</p><p> Suzanne Tzuanos, Hitt's lawyer, said, "There's no proof of a prohibited personal relationship and there's no romantic intent on his behalf."</p><p> However, the district believes the appearance of a romantic relationship is enough to cost him his job.</p><p> Two female students defended Hitt's use of slang in front of the board, saying he speaks to them "at our high school level."</p><p> "My communications with her are my attempts at talking on her level," said Hitt.</p><p> "If anything, at the end of the day, Coach Hitt probably is guilty of being tragically unhip," said Tzuanos, who also claims the investigation at the school was flawed. "I think that he views this entire situation as regretful. It's a terrible way to end a 20-year career."</p><p> The board will vote in August on whether to fire him.</p>

Published: Wed, 29 Jul 2015 03:33:29 GMT

CLUE helps find vehicle insurance mistakes

<p> Sometimes it takes a little detective work to find the best insurance rate. Gwen Jones did just that, but while trying to save money on her premiums a mysterious accident turned up on her record.</p><p> [WEB EXTRA: <a href="/news/how-to-get-a-clue-report/34398318" target="_blank">How to get a CLUE report</a> ]</p><p> “I was shocked," Vanessa Jones, of AAA, said. "I said, 'Where?'”</p><p> Insurance companies use a database called the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange, or CLUE, to get information on drivers and homeowners. Much like the classic detective game, it's supposed to tell them the who, what, when and where of a person's claim history.<br/>So CLUE reports saw Gwen Jones, driving a Cadillac, getting in an accident in Mississippi.</p><p> “They said, 'You have a white Cadillac.' I said, 'I’ve never owned a Cadillac. Never lived in Mississippi, never gone to Mississippi,'" Gwen Jones said.</p><p> It turns out CLUE didn't have the right Gwen Jones.</p><p> “She lives in Dallas, I live in Angleton. We have the same birthdate, the same name, but our middle initial is different," Gwen Jones said.</p><p> Gwen Jones' driver’s license number somehow got attached to the other woman's accident record in clue.<br/></p><p> “They were going to charge me a higher rate. There could be an error, anywhere along the line," Gwen Jones said.<br/></p><p> The Florida Department of Financial Services said it has received 154 CLUE complaints from consumers who believe there are errors on their CLUE reports<br/></p><p> "As you mentioned, it’s what's being reported, so consumers may not look to see why there insurance rate has gone up,” said Vanessa Jones.</p><p> Vanessa Jones said if consumers notice rate has gone up, they need to ask questions.</p><p> “Ask their agent to kind of quickly review their CLUE report with them, because again, it could certainly have an impact on their insurance rate and usually it's a negative impact," Vanessa Jones said.</p><p> Adam Gottlieb is a prime example. He believes his CLUE report may be exaggerating a fender bender.<br/></p><p> “The policy had increased quite a bit," he said.<br/></p><p> That's because Gottlieb's insurance company's records, which are sent to CLUE, listed his car as totaled.<br/></p><p> “The damage was just a little scratch, maybe about 2 inches long on the back bumper," Gottlieb said. "On their computer it's showing that it's totaled, but on my end it's obviously drivable.”</p><p> Gottlieb said he is not sure what is on his CLUE report. He didn't know to check it until Local 6 News told him.<br/></p><p> An Atlanta-based company runs CLUE. A company representative said insurance companies send them updated claims information every week. If there's a mistake on your report, contact the company to correct it.<br/></p><p> But a lot of people don't know the reports exist, let alone how to get a copy.<br/></p><p> "I didn't know how to pull a CLUE report at all. I still don't know how to find out what is on there," Gottlieb said.</p><p> To get a copy of your clue report all you have to do is mail a request letter with a copy of your driver's license. It doesn't cost a thing to get it. But getting the report only solves half the mystery.<br/></p><p> Gwen Jones still had to get a letter from her insurance company explaining that she never had an accident ... in a Cadillac ... in Mississippi.</p><p> “I don't know how that error could have even occurred, but it’s happening and it's scary,” Gwen Jones said.</p>

Published: Wed, 29 Jul 2015 03:35:22 GMT

Top 10 hot spots for car thieves

<p> With July marking National Vehicle Theft Protection Month, take a look at the National Insurance Crime Bureau's annual list of the top hot spots for car thieves as ranked by auto theft rates per 100,000 residents. Click on to find out if your city is among the top 10.</p>

Published: Wed, 29 Jul 2015 06:00:00 GMT

On this day: July 29

<p> Vincent van Gogh dies, the Summer Olympics return after World War II, Jack Paar debuts on the "Tonight" show, Dylan crashes his motorcycle, and Prince Charles marries Diana, all on this day.</p>

Published: Wed, 29 Jul 2015 06:00:00 GMT

Search for toddler called a murder investigation, Jacksonville Sheriff's Office says

<p> In the five days since the search for missing toddler Lonzie Barton began, hundreds of law enforcement officers from 18 agencies are working to bring closure to a case that the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office is now calling a murder investigation, <a href="" target="_blank">WJXT reports.</a><br/></p><p> <a href="" target="_blank">The 21-month-old disappeared</a> late Thursday night or early Friday morning while in the care of his mother's boyfriend, William Ruben Ebron Jr., who is now considered a suspect in the case and is facing child neglect charges.</p><p> UNCUT: <a href="" target="_blank">Jacksonville Sheriff's Office Tuesday search update</a></p><p> Among those are deputies from Nassau County, who have supplied ATVs, and deputies from Baker County, who know the concerns of looking for a missing child.</p><p> Baker County Sheriff Joey Dobson said officers from the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office helped Baker County search for missing 8-year-old Peyton Blodgett in October.</p><p> “It's called mutual aid. We have agreements with each sheriff's office, and JSO … has never refused us on anything,” Dobson said. “We're somewhat smaller, but they've always sent anything we've needed, from dive teams to bomb squad, SWAT team or anything."</p><p> Peyton (pictured), who has autism, was found alive after about three days, dehydrated and with scratches, but otherwise safe.<br/></p><p> “We're happy to assist JSO,” Dobson said. “They certainly helped us with our missing child, Peyton Blodgett. I think they requested five deputies and a supervisor. They were down there all day yesterday and will be today, and we'll continue to assist them as long as they need us to.”<br/></p><p> As time slips away, JSO Chief of Investigations Tom Hackney said it's less and less likely that Lonzie's story will have the same happy ending as Peyton's.<br/></p><p> “This is less of a missing persons investigation and more of a homicide investigation,” Hackney said. “Those (search) efforts will continue until we have nowhere else to go and no puddle to get in, no tree to get under and no rock to overturn -- until we do everything we can to locate Lonzie.”<br/></p><p> </p><p> Hackney has been the face of the search efforts, repeatedly holding news conferences to update the media and the public on the progress of the investigation. Noticeably absent has been new Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams (pictured), who has been a vacation that was pre-planned even before this year's election.</p><p> Undersheriff Pat Ivey said Williams has been in constant contact with the sheriff's office, despite his absence, and that even if Williams was in town, Hackney would remain the voice of the investigation to the public.</p><p> “Part of it is probably a misunderstanding. When we have an incident like this, we go to an incident command system, which is a tried and proven structure on the national level on how you address incidents such as this,” Ivey explained. “It puts key people in particular positions to deal with your objectives and your top priority, which is finding this young boy.”</p><p>  Ivey said the command structure during an all-out search shifts so that instead of the sheriff being on top with the undersheriff and others falling into line, the head of the investigation is on top. In this case, that person is Hackney.</p><p> “That's the importance of appointing a good staff, people that can carry on whatever needs to be done at the sheriff's office if he's not here or even the No. 2 person is not here,” WJXT crime and safety analyst Gil Smith said. “It seems like Tom Hackney is doing a good job.”</p><p> Ivey said he's been in contact with the mayor and several City Council members, who have offered their full support during the investigation. He said the sheriff returns to town this weekend.</p><p> In the meantime, the investigation continues, and Hackney said JSO has received about 220 tips in the case so far, including offers from businesses along the route that JSO has been searching to look at their surveillance video.</p><p> Jacksonville Fire Rescue ladder trucks are also assisting in the search for Lonzie, along with a JFR ambulance.</p><p> Other agencies involved in the search include the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the State Attorney's Office, the Alachua, Clay, and St. Johns county sheriff's offices, the FBI, Florida Fish and Wildlife, and the Jacksonville Beach, Neptune Beach, Orange Park, Miami-Dade, Miramar and Duval County School Board police.</p><p> JSO also brought in 11 volunteers from Texas Equusearch, a mounted search-and-recovery team.</p><p> "The level of support that the men and women who are out searching for Lonzie have received is just touching," Hackney said. “All these agencies are not only helping us find Lonzie, but helping build a case against (suspect) Ruben Ebron.”</p><p> On Friday, police searched dumpsters at the apartment complex where Ebron reported that Lonzie was abducted in a car theft. Police later said Ebron's original story was a lie and began retracing his steps, including searching a nearby laundromat (pictured) where Ebron washed clothes the night Lonzie disappeared.</p><p> As investigators have established the route that Ebron traveled that night, police have searched several more commercial trash bins for the missing boy or evidence.<br/></p><p> Investigators also asked that several commercial dumpsters not be emptied until they are searched. One trash compactor was taken to the Trail Ridge Landfill so its contents "could be sifted through safely for clues to this investigation."<br/></p><p> So far, nothing useful has been recovered.<br/></p><p> Hackney said he remains frustrated that Ebron knows what happened and where Lonzie is, but isn't telling police the truth.<br/></p><p> "He's the man that had the baby and he's the man who needs to give me the answers," Hackney said. <br/></p><p> Hackney said citizen support for the searchers has also been overwhelming, including several restaurants and individuals who have provided food, water and supplies.<br/></p><p> Police have said that any donations to help the searchers are welcome and can be coordinated with the volunteer liaison at 904-314-6940.<br/></p><p> Hackney again asked for prayers that the search would come to an end.<br/></p><p> “I'll be more than happy to take some divine influence with the locating of this child,” he said.<br/></p><p> For now, citizens are not being asked to help in the physical search for Lonzie. Smith said that's partly a safety and liability issue.<br/></p><p> “If somebody is bitten by a snake (in the woods) or falls and breaks an ankle, the city may be liable,” Smith said. “Also, if evidence is found, law enforcement knows how to preserve that evidence, not to move it, not to damage it and also to recognize what could be evidence that maybe the public would not be able to recognize.”  </p>

Published: Tue, 28 Jul 2015 21:57:24 GMT

Registered sex offender targeted teen in mall bathroom, South Daytona police say

<p> A registered sex offender has been arrested after police say he targeted a 15-year-old boy at a local mall.</p><p> Kevin Gill has been charged with lewd and lascivious conduct and soliciting another for lewdness in the Saturday incident at the Sunshine Park Mall.</p><p> South Daytona police say the boy went to the mall  with his father and excused himself to use a public restroom when Gill came into the bathroom and asked if the boy could perform a sex act on him.</p><p> According to the report, Gill also stuck his hand under the stall and made inappropriate gestures.</p><p> The teen then texted his father, who was at the mall, who waited for Gill to leave and got a suspect description, then called authorities.</p><p> Police said they were able to identify Gill by looking at the sex offender registry.</p><p> He was arrested and booked into the Volusia County jail.</p>

Published: Tue, 28 Jul 2015 20:58:26 GMT

Orlando police officer hurt in hit-and-run to be discharged from in-patient facility

<p> The Orlando police officer injured when he was run down during a traffic stop earlier this month is scheduled to be discharged from the in-patient facility on Thursday.</p><p> A new update, which included a picture of Anderson recovering, posted on Tuesday on the GoFundMe website for Officer William Anderson said that Anderson will continue to receive speech and physical therapy through Shands Hospital in Gainesville.</p><p> "He is so happy to be going home where he can spend more time with his family and friends," the post said. "We again want to express our gratitude to our family, friends, the community and our OPD family for the continued prayers, support and assistance during this time. We are so overwhelmed by the generosity and kindness of others. We have been so blessed!"</p><p> Anderson's wife <a href="" target="_blank">said last week that Anderson had been diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury. </a>Anderson was hurt July 13 when he pulled over a car while investigating a call about shots fired on Kirkman Road.</p><p> [LINK: <a href="" target="_blank">Officer Anderson's GoFundMe page</a>]</p><p> Investigators said Anderson went around the front of the car, when a passenger in that vehicle started running. Police said at the same time, the driver, 17-year-old Edward Kelty, sped up and hit Anderson.</p><p> Kelty, along with two other teens were arrested. Kelty has been charged with attempted second-degree murder on a law enforcement officer. Angel Nieves, 17, has been charged with tampering with evidence.</p><p> Alfonza Singleton, 17,  faces charges of resisting without violence.</p><p> [RELATED: <a href="" target="_self">Dash-cam video shows police officer run over</a>]</p><p> More than $47,000 has been raised to support Anderson.</p>

Published: Tue, 28 Jul 2015 18:36:14 GMT

Brevard's youngest murderer released from prison

<p> Curtis Jones, who was sentenced to 18 years in prison for carrying out a murder with his 13-year-old sister in 1999, was released from prison on Tuesday, <a class="nofollow" href="" target="_blank">Local 6 news partner Florida Today reports.</a></p><p> Curtis – then 12 – and Catherine Jones were arrested after they hatched a plot to kill a male relative they claimed had been sexually abusing them. Curtis is the nation's youngest convicted murderer.</p><p> They planned to kill their father and his girlfriend, Sonya Nicole Speights, because they felt their cries for help were being ignored. They found themselves alone at home with Speights and decided to kill her first. But after shooting her, they panicked and ran off into woods near their Brevard County home, where they were apprehended the following morning.</p><p> Curtis Jones was released from the South Bay Correctional Facility just south of Lake Okeechobee at 7 a.m. Tuesday.</p><p> <br/></p>

Published: Tue, 28 Jul 2015 14:44:52 GMT

Hearing held on 'agri-hood' in Orange County

<p> Residents who live near the proposed site for new environmentally friendly housing development are voicing their support and opposition to the project.<br/></p><p> </p><p> The topic is part of a public hearing being held Tuesday by the Board of County Commissioners for Orange County -- a hearing which could last until late into the night.</p><p> Orange County workers tell Local 6 each person who signed up to speak get two minutes, but some have asked for more time.  Tallied up, speakers will fill five-and-a-half hours of public speaking time.</p><p> The development, which would be located just north of Highway 50 between Tanner and Chuluota roads, was proposed by Dwight Saathoff, of New Ideas Inc., in April.</p><p> He wants nearly 2,900 homes to span 1,237 acres, complete with 17 acres of gardens, edible walking trails and a barn for special events.</p><p> He dubbed the development an "agri-hood."</p><p> "This is the lifestyle they want, and they're going to lose it," said Ruth Bherle, who is opposed to the project.</p><p> She's referring to the undeveloped land that blankets both sides of Highway 50.</p><p> "Rural means rural," she said. "It means no Saint Augustines, no insecticides. It means you can shoot your gun. It means the bears can get whoever they want to get. We're not gonna be complaining about the trash cans. We need to keep this rural."</p><p> There are supporters, who say the development would increase land value.</p><p> "This plan symbolizes progress," said supporter Jad Shaloub.  "A lot of people spend a lot of time driving. For the sake of the community, these people would have the opportunity to live closer to their jobs."</p><p> Commissioners can choose to approve the project, reject it or they may decide to delay a vote to consider the measure more.</p><p> Local 6 will be at the meeting, so watch Local 6 News and stay with for updates?.</p>

Published: Wed, 29 Jul 2015 03:49:47 GMT

Photos: Recent Fla. mugshots

<p> Here's a look at some of the individuals who have been arrested recently in the Sunshine State.</p>

Published: Tue, 28 Jul 2015 11:10:20 GMT