06/22/17 Human Interest
TAMPA — After graduating from the University of Florida in 2015, Gabrielle Piloto jumped on the highway and headed south to Tampa.
She had landed a marketing job at a law firm and envisioned renting an apartment downtown or in Seminole Heights. But the rents of $1,000 a month and more were out of her reach. She toyed with the idea of buying a house, thinking the mortgage payments might be more affordable....
TAMPA — Antwan Jenrette Jr. planned to make banana pudding for his dad on Father's Day.
The senior Antwan Jenrette was looking forward to seeing his eldest son, whom he called "Lil Twan."
Instead, the father learned his son was shot and killed in the Jackson Heights neighborhood late Friday. The 18-year-old was down the street from his mother's home, the father said.
"I don't understand why someone would take his life like that," he said....
06/13/17 Human Interest
Antionette Andrews saw firsthand what a lottery win could do to a person when her son's father, Abraham Shakespeare, won $17 million in 2006.
A few years later, he was murdered in Tampa and an infamous trial followed in Hillsborough County court that put Dorice "DeeDee" Moore behind bars for life.
Now Andrews, 42, has become a lottery winner herself after a $20 Monopoly scratch-off ticket put $1 million in her pocket....
TREASURE ISLAND — A Fort Myers man died early Friday morning from injuries he suffered the night before when he was stuck in a rip current while swimming with a group of three friends, police said.
At 7:15 p.m. Thursday a 911 caller told police there was group of swimmers on Treasure Island Beach who looked like they needed help. When police arrived with St. Pete Beach Fire Rescue, they saw "several swimmers in rough surf," police said....
LITHIA — The beloved emu of Lithia couple finally made it back home on Thursday after it had been lost for more than a week.
Linda and Wayne Lohf's pet bird, Easter, somehow made it over a 4-foot fence on June 2 and had been roaming Hillsborough County. On Thursday afternoon a former military buddy of Wayne Lohf's saw stories of the missing bird swirling around social media and knew it was time to step up....
LITHIA — Wayne and Linda Lohf hatched the first emu on their 6-acre farm on an Easter Sunday 13 years ago.
He was the only one of six eggs in an incubator to survive. The couple named him Easter, after his birthday, and he would go on to add three more emus to their farm.
But since June 2, the Lohf's veteran emu has been missing.
"He's been on the loose for a week," said Wayne Lohf. "We're uneasy about it." ...
This week's rains won't provide much respite from what some officials call the region's worst drought in a century.
But even just a few days of grey skies and steady rains can benefit a parched region.
Tampa Bay Water, the agency that manages the area's drinking water supply, said June's early showers have already dramatically slowed daily water consumption across the region....
TAMPA — A 19-year-old was arrested on charges he threw a rock and hit a flamingo Friday at Busch Gardens, police said.
This is the second time a patron has attacked one of the park's flamingoes in less than a year.
Julian Antonio Marquez, 19, was arrested on animal cruelty charges, Tampa police said. Witnesses told investigators they saw him throw a rock, causing a flamingo to fall to the ground in the park's bird garden....
06/03/17 Public Safety
ST. PETERSBURG — When Bill Braitsch set out for his daily walk along Gandy Beach with his dog, he never imagined that it would be the last walk of 4-year-old Jordy's life.
Braitsch, 54, said he saw a large dog tied to a stake in the sand near a red sport utility vehicle. He said a woman called out "it's okay," as they walked by.
Then he saw the other dog sprinting toward them....
ST. PETERSBURG — Veteran cab driver John Andrew Hutchens, 59, was dispatched by United Taxi of Clearwater to pick up someone in Lealman around midnight Thursday. It started out like any other fare for Hutchens, 59, who has worked as a local cabbie since 2004.
But St. Petersburg police said this trip ended with passenger Juan Carlos Juares fatally stabbing the cab driver. Hutchens was attacked in his own cab, police said, but when he tried to escape the slashing and stabbing continued outside....
UPDATE: Juan Carlos Juarez, 27, was arrested Thursday night around 9:15 p.m. at his residence in unincorporated Pinellas County, not far from where stabbing victim John Andrew Hutchens' cab was found.
ST. PETERSBURG — Police are investigating the fatal stabbing of a 59-year-old taxi driver who was killed at a Citgo gas station just before 1 a.m. Thursday....
05/31/17 Human Interest
If you've ever started a Google search with "How to spell ..." you're not alone. (And probably weren't a Scripps National Spelling Bee champ in your youth.)
If you're from the fine State of Florida, chances are you've struggled to sound out "receipt" (Come on, y'all! That's a classic example of "i" before "e" except after "c.") New Hampshire struggles with "diarrhea" and several states can't handle "pneumonia."...
After last year's drug-related deaths, Tampa's Sunset Music Festival says it's stepping up safety, security05/26/17 Public Safety
TAMPA — Alex Haynes worked three jobs. He had a fiance and an infant son. He owned his own home in Melbourne. Last summer, the 22-year-old attended the Sunset Musical Festival at Raymond James Stadium.
He left in an ambulance.
Hayes and a group of friends used the drug molly, the nickname for MDMA. He and Katie Bermudez, 21, of Kissimmee both died of accidental drug abuse while attending the festival, officials said. MDMA was found in both their systems....
ST. PETERSBURG — Police say Raymond Adams, 29, jumped a fence to break into a home in the 800 block of 51st Avenue S.
Moments later, they say, he was a passenger in a getaway car while a police cruiser trailed behind. His driver hit a tree but, police say, Adams got out of the car and kept running. A witness told investigators Adams dropped his 9 mm pistol, a pair of gloves and a hoodie in a garbage can while fleeing from St. Petersburg police....
05/23/17 Public Safety
In the aftermath of the Monday night explosion that killed at least 22 people — including children — moments after a pop concert ended in England, local venues assured the public that security will remain tight for the Tampa Bay area's upcoming big-ticket shows.
"First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with those affected by this horrible tragedy at the Manchester Arena," said Raymond James Stadium officials in a statement issued Tuesday....