A St. Lucie County man’s quick reflexes may have saved his life Tuesday night after a man tried to shoot him point blank in the head during a fight at a house party but only grazed his head, according to sheriff’s officials. Deputies arrested two men today in that shooting.
Jeremy Palacio, 21, of Fort Pierce, faces attempted murder charges in connection with the shooting of 20-year-old Dereck Gervais in the driveway of a home in the 2800 block of S. Jenkins Road west of Fort Pierce around 11 p.m. Tuesday. Robert Bourbon, 19, of Fort Pierce, was arrested on charges of being an accessory to attempted murder.
Witnesses told deputies they saw Gervais arguing with Palacio in the driveway of the home during the party, then heard the shot and heard Palacio yelling “You all don’t want no more of this.”
A friend drove Gervais to Lawnwood Regional Medical Center, where he told deputies that during the argument he felt something pressed against the side of his head and quickly brushed the gun away with his hand just before he heard the shot go off, according to the report. The bullet only grazed his head.
Witnesses told deputies that Bourbon was standing next to Palacio and helped him get away into a car after the shooting, according to the report. Deputies later found the car and interviewed the driver, who told deputies he heard Bourbon and Palacio bragging about the shooting on their cell phones. Later this morning deputies found and arrested Palacio and Bourbon at a home in the 5300 block of Wintergarden Parkway in Fort Pierce.
The two residents of the home, identified by deputies as Christopher Alfonso and Michael Laneve, were arrested on charges of holding an open house party where alcohol was served to minors.
FORT LAUDERDALE, FL — The Broward County Sheriff has announced the arrest of a sheriff’s deputy on fourteen felony counts including sexual battery in a position of control or authority, armed kidnapping, stalking and battery.
Sheriff Al Lamberti says the deputy “betrayed his badge and abused his power.”
Deputy Jonathan Bleiweiss has been with Broward County Sheriff’s Department since 2002.
The Sheriff says Bleiweiss was targeting undocumented immigrants while on patrol in uniform, armed, in his patrol car.
According to the Sheriff, Deputy Bleiweiss would search for his victims, pull them over, and sexually batter them.
Sheriff Lamberti says the investigation began when an employer of one of the victims came forward with the allegations. Fort Lauderdale PD was contacted by an attorney and then notified BSO’s Sex Crimes Unit when they realized the incidents happened in Oakland Park.
The Sheriff’s Office says there are several victims and believes there are more.
In one case an adult male victim was waiting outside an apartment complex in Oakland Park for a ride to work. That’s when Sheriff Lamberti says Deputy Jonathan Bleiweiss approached in a marked BSO patrol car and requested his identification.
The victim told BSO Sex Crimes detectives that Deputy Bleiweiss placed him against the patrol unit and during the pat down placed his hand inside the victim’s underwear and groped him.
Investigators said during that encounter Dep. Bleiweiss demanded the victim’s cell phone number and proceeded to call and send him text messages. Similar sexual encounters continued until June.
The Sheriff’s Office wants victims to come forward and are urged to call Detective Graciela Benito at (954) 321-4249.
Bleiweiss is remains in BSO custody. He is currently suspended without pay and being held without bond, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
LANTANA, FL–Ronald A. Wright of Boynton Beach has been arrested in connection with Thursday’s deadly hit-and-run accident on Lantana Road.
Charges include a deadly non-moving traffic violation with a suspended license and a fatal hit and run.
Wright is listed as a habitual offender. Previous arrests include several driving and drug-related charges.
Off-duty firemen, policemen and perfect strangers rushed to save a family from their burning car Sunday evening.
A woman from Tennessee lost control of her van and crashed into a tree near 22nd Place and Layton Avenue between 5 and 6 p.m.
Neighbors rushed to help — some broke windows, others grabbed garden hoses and one man kept his video camera rolling.
When Jerry Lepkowski saw the smoke and flames he grabbed his video camera and ran toward the action. He had no idea he was about to record an amazing and heroic rescue.
Neighbors and drivers were the first people on the scene. Almost immediately they pulled a little girl from the burning minivan, but that was just the beginning.
With the girl’s mother and brother trapped inside, two men banged at the van’s window with metal pipes until it broke apart, freeing the mother.
That’s when two off-duty firefighters showed up and with a child still inside they rushed into the burning car.
Despite the lack of protective clothes and the blistering heat, the men scrambled to free the child from a seatbelt.
As the fire grew, an off-duty Milwaukee Police lieutenant showed up with two fire extinguishers and neighbors rushed in with garden hoses.
Another twenty seconds passed and just as it looks like the car is going to burn up one of the firefighters frees the 4-year-old boy.
He is badly burned, but alive, and was rushed away from the flames and sprayed down with cold water.
Neighbors said they are amazed everyone survived. “I would do it for my kids so that’s why I stopped to get in there,” Lepkowski said. “I’m still shaken, you know, but I’ll never forget it.
”One of the off-duty fire fighters had serious burns to his arm the other needed stitches. Milwaukee Police Lt. Mark Wroblewski received some minor burns.“The neighborhood really came out as well with hoses,” Wroblewski said. “It shows the true sprit of the city.
”The boy had burns on 30 percent of his body and is currently in critical condition at Children’s Hospital.The mother and sister escaped with minor injuries.
PENSACOLA, Fla. — Masked suspects, some dressed as ninjas, stole a safe and other items during a deadly break-in at the sprawling Florida Panhandle home of a couple known for adopting children with special needs, authorities said Tuesday.
Melanie and Byrd Billings were shot to death Thursday in their nine-bedroom home. Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan hugged their sobbing adult daughter, Ashley Markham, at a press conference Tuesday to announce that three more people had been arrested, bringing the total to seven.
“It is my honor today to tell you, Ashley, and your family, we have found them and they are in custody,” Morgan said.
Investigators had said previously that there were many motives for the crime, but prosecutor Bill Eddins said Tuesday that robbery was the main one. He would not say what was in the safe or what else might have been taken from the house.
Nine of the couple’s 17 children were home at the time and three saw the intruders but were not hurt.
Morgan said investigators were still looking for at least one more person in the case and at least one of the suspects in custody may have done work at the Billings home. He has previously said the suspects had no direct connection to the victims.
Several of the suspects were day laborers who knew each other through either a pressure washing business or a car detailing group, Morgan said.
The arrests started Sunday with 56-year-old Leonard Gonzalez Sr., who was originally charged with evidence tampering but will be charged with murder, authorities said. He is accused of driving a red van seen on surveillance video pulling away from the Billings home and then trying to paint over it.
His son, 35-year-old Leonard P. Gonzalez Jr., was also arrested Sunday along with day laborer Wayne Coldiron, 41. Both were due in court Tuesday to face murder charges.
Another day laborer, Gary Lamont Sumner, 31, was arrested on a murder charge in a nearby county Monday after he was pulled over in a traffic stop. Morgan said investigators have placed Sumner at the scene, though he would not provide details.
Three more people were arrested Tuesday — a juvenile whom police did not identify; Frederick Lee Thorton Jr., 19; and Donnie Ray Stallworth, 28, who was arrested in Alabama but lives in Florida.
The break-in was captured by an extensive video surveillance system the Billings used to keep tabs on their children.
Surveillance video showed three armed, masked men arriving in the red van, entering through the front of the house and then returning to the vehicle. Others dressed in what the sheriff called “ninja garb” went in through an unlocked utility door in the back. They were in and out in under 10 minutes.
“I think you’ll find this particularly chilling and here’s why: We have a team that enters at the rear of the home and another that enters at the front of the home,” Morgan said. “It leads me to believe this was a very well-planned and methodical operation.”
Morgan said, however, that there was no indication anyone had unlocked the door for the intruders, adding that people in the community felt comfortable leaving their doors unlocked.
The couple owned several local businesses, including a finance company and a used-car dealership. They lived in Beulah, a rural area west of Pensacola, near the Alabama state line, in a house set deep in the woods. They had 17 children in all — 13 of them adopted.
Tips from the public led police to the van on Saturday.
George David Kennedy, 39, a registered sex offender, was convicted in March 2002 of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct and home invasion. Kennedy was sentenced to serve 2 to 15 years in prison, and was released on parole in July 2007 which is scheduled to end this July.
Kennedy is a friend of Nevaeh’s mother, although she denies that they are romantically involved.
Police took Kennedy into custody on parole violations on Sunday evening – the night Nevaeh went missing from the Charlotte Arms Apartments in Monroe, Michigan.
Since then, investigators have searched Kennedy’s residence and seized several pieces of evidence, including a pair of shorts and a towel with bloodstains, bloodstains on the wall and photos of a white girl who looked similar to Nevaeh.
Kennedy has been named a person of interest in this case, but police say at this time he is not a suspect and remains in custody on parole violations stemming from his relationship with Nevaeh’s mother. Part of the conditions of his release was he was to have no romantic relationships with anyone associated with a child or be around a child under 17 without another adult present.
Investigators also searched Kennedy’s 1993 GMC van and found human blood on a silver multi-purpose tool.
Today investigators said they do have another person of interest, the owner of the van driven by Kennedy.
Roy Lee Smith, 48, was taken into custody on Monday on possible parole violations. The Department of Corrections is investigating whether or not to charge him with violating his parole.
Smith was paroled in February, 2008, after serving 15 years in prison on a conviction of criminal sexual conduct, third degree and other charges, such as larceny and breaking and entering.
Jennifer Buchanan, 39, Nevaeh’s mother, said she met Roy Smith through George Kennedy. She said Smith had only been as far as the parking lot to pick Jennifer up when they would go driving around or go out to eat and that he had only met Nevaeh once.
As for Kennedy, Jennifer has said that Nevaeh knew him well enough that she would have gotten into a car with him.
Officials cautioned the public to not judge Kennedy so quickly and that there are a number of “persons of interest” in this case. They say they are not focusing on the persons of interest and are still looking for and following up on leads.
An additional 10 FBI agents were called in today to help re-interview residents and people who may have been visiting the Charlotte Arms Apartments on the day Nevaeh went missing.