The Bizarre World of Florida

Teacher Fired for Orchestrating Attack on Seventh Grade Student April 15, 2014

teacherAfter Florida teacher Dru Dehart got into an argument with seventh-grade student Radravious Williams, Dehart allegedly ordered a pack of older teens to attack Williams.

Dehart, who claims that Williams threatened her, is a veteran teacher at Northport K-8 School in Port St. Lucie.

Security camera footage from inside the school shows Dehart pointing to Williams and walking away. Mere moments later, a group of boys surrounds the teen and assaults him.

As the boys beat him up, Williams falls to the floor. The attack left him injured and traumatized.

Dehart was suspended without pay last fall.

On Thursday, after half an hour’s deliberation, the county’s school board came to the unanimous decision to fire Dehart.

David Miklas, a school district representative, said that Dehart “made a very poor decision that day” in using “students to carry out discipline.”


Police get involved after dispute over too many pets gets physical April 11, 2014

sfl-flduh-neighbor-fight-furkids-20140410-001Some folks really show their claws when it comes to their fur kids.

Fur-real feud: A woman, identified as Christina M. Putman, 27, is accused of attacking her neighbor after the neighbor told authorities Putman was keeping eight dogs and several cats, reports TCPalm.com in Stuart.

After officials verified Putnam had more fur kids than the legal limit of five, Putman allegedly jumped her next-door neighbor’s fence and grabbed the woman’s hair, dragging her into the backyard from the porch, Port St. Lucie cops said.


When you just gotta go … to jail April 9, 2014

A spat over whether to pull into a rest area for a potty stop turned into a golf club beat down and a couple of arrests, according to recently released affidavits.

Florida Highway Patrol troopers were dispatched March 31 to the Port St. Lucie/Fort Pierce service plaza on Florida’s Turnpike for a report of a fight.

Colby Yandow, 23, told troopers he considers himself a female

despite what his driver’s license says. Yandow said he’s “a trans-gender individual who has completed his sexual reassignment surgery, but has not updated his driver’s license information to reflect such,” an affidavit states.

Yandow, who smelled of booze, told troopers that he and Kenneth Jackson, 35, live together in Orlando. He said he was driving north with Jackson, who also smelled of booze, when they quarreled about stopping at the service plaza for a bathroom break.



Yandow said Jackson punched him in the face and grabbed his wrist before snatching the wheel and forcing the vehicle into the service plaza.

Yandow said he got out and grabbed a golf club from the trunk. He said he hit Jackson in the head to protect himself.

Jackson said he told Yandow he needed to use the bathroom, but Yandow wouldn’t stop. Jackson said Yandow punched him in the face and pulled in the plaza. Jackson said he forced the vehicle into park so he could get out and use the toilet.

He said Yandow hit him in the head with the golf club, and then they scuffled.

“Mr. Jackson denied punching Mr. Yandow while he was driving, but admitted to punching him after being struck in the head with the golf club,” an affidavit states.

Records did not state whether Jackson got to use the bathroom.

Yandow, whose license is suspended and expired, was arrested on charges including aggravated battery, while Jackson was arrested on a battery charge.


Vampires, nudists, snakes: Nobody does wacky like Florida April 7, 2014


By: Scott Maxwell

Last week, news broke that a congressional candidate in Gainesville had a secret pastime: impersonating vampires. And superheroes.

Some people would call this nutty.

In Florida, we just call it Tuesday.

Seriously, that’s not even our highest-profile vampire story. Remember the “vampire killings” from Lake County?

Some of our stories are heartbreakingly tragic. But so many are also mind-numbingly strange.

In Florida, we do weird the way Kansas does wheat.

Here, giant pet snakes escape. And breed. And then invade our national parks.

We have fish that eat people, alligators that eat people and people who eat people.

Two years ago, when news of the “cannibal attack” broke, the nation let out a collective gasp … until learning it was Miami. Then it all made sense.

We have killer amoebas, hanging chads and diaper-wearing astronauts. (All of which would make awesome rock-band names, by the way.)

We have a town named Christmas … where it never snows. We have the world’s smallest post office and a couple trying to build America’s largest house.

I used to think Florida attracted wacky people. Now I think it creates them.

Take my grandfather, for example.

Early in his life, he was a NASA engineer in Virginia — and as strait-laced and buttoned-down as they came. His passions were photography and crossword puzzles.

Then he moved to Florida. After Grandma died, we worried that our sober and contemplative grandfather would become listless and uninspired.

He became neither of those things. Instead, he became a nudist. (Lending more credence to the notion that it’s never the people you want to see naked at a nudist resort.)

At first, we were all: What the heck, Granddad?

But you know what? He found new life and inspiration. He’d travel down Interstate4 from Ormond Beach to Cypress Cove, where he’d pay strict adherence to the two main rules: Never take pictures, and always place a towel on the bar stool before you sit down.

Florida liberated him. And he spent the remaining, widowed years of his life happy. So you go, Granddad.

By the way, nudity is another one of our weird themes.

•”Nude man found dead on killer whale’s back”

•”Florida Lotto winner seeks to open a nude dude ranch”

•”Blind woman sues nudist colony over heavy dog”

Florida newspapers carry such headlines the way other papers carry horoscopes.

Some of that is understandable. It’s hot down here.

And I don’t mean happy, sand-at-your-toes, wind-in-your-hair hot. I mean sweaty-thighs-stuck-to-your-car-seats, armpit-stains-like-dinner-plates hot. It’s enough to make anyone nutty. And naked.

But it cuts both ways. When it’s hot, it makes us crazy. When it’s pleasant, we attract other states’ crazies. I mean, if it’s January and you’re already planning to run a scam, con or heist, would you rather do it in Buffalo or Boynton Beach?

This state is also lousy with newspapers and TV stations, meaning we have more ink-stained wretches and blow-dried broadcasters than your average state to tell all the weird stories.

Finally, there’s our melting-pot effect.

You simply can’t throw so many different cultures together and not expect some fireworks.

But you know what? That is also part of what makes this state so splendidly unique.

We have character and texture — a bouillabaisse of native and newcomer, sinner and saint, scholar and simpleton.

It’s a fusion that produces a weeklong bacchanalia in Key West and pioneering medical research at the Burnham Institute.

It’s the reason Orlando can turn out just as many people for a Veterans Day parade as it does for Come Out With Pride.

And it explains how a mild-mannered rocket engineer can feel inspired to start a new life by ditching his pocket protector — along with everything else he’s wearing.

And, yes, it’s also how we end up with some of the wackiest politicians in America — including a vampire-impersonating, superhero-mimicking, punk-rock lawyer running for Congress.

Just what we need … another lawyer in Congress.


Ex hurled beer cans at woman’s house April 3, 2014

sfl-flduh-ex-hurled-beer-cans-20140402-001A woman told an Okaloosa County Sheriff’s deputy the guy she broke up with stood outside her apartment throwing “hard objects” – in this case unopened beer cans – at her windows until one of them broke – the window, not the beer can.

Deputies arrested William Earl Bradley of Fort Walton Beach and charged him with a weapon offense – missile into dwelling, vehicle, building or aircraft.

The woman said he threw several hard objects at the kitchen window and back bedroom window, causing the bedroom window to break. A witness said the hard objects were unopened beer cans.

The woman said Bradley was mad at her for ending their intimate relationship.


Cellphone video captures drive-thru rage at McDonald’s April 1, 2014

McDonald's%20road%20rage%20incident_1396278753649_3915596_ver1_0_640_480A Winter Haven man was charged with battery after he punched a woman in the face at a McDonald’s drive-thru, according to police.

The incident was captured on video.

Howard Carl Wilson, 69, was in one lane of the drive-thru at the 6th Street McDonald’s on Saturday night.

Another vehicle, in which Brittani Thomas was a passenger, pulled in front of Wilson after ordering. Witnesses heard Wilson yelling profanities and racial slurs, police said.

Wilson got out of his van and approached Thomas’ vehicle. She opened her door and asked what the problem was.

In the video, Wilson is seen yelling and preventing Thomas from closing her door. Before getting back in his van and leaving, Wilson punched Thomas in the face, according to a police statement.

“I just wish he never took it that serious. It was just a McDonalds line. I just wish he wouldn’t have taken it that serious.,” Thomas said.

Officers tracked down Wilson at his home. He said he was angry because he had been cut off and almost struck the other vehicle. He also said the encounter only lasted about 15 seconds.

When presented with the video, he realized the incident was more than he recalled. He told officers, “It was like a road rage incident,” according to the statement.

He was charged with simple battery and later bonded out of the Polk County Jail.


KaBoom! Man set off military type explosive on another man’s car March 25, 2014

sfl-flduh-explosive-mans-car-20140324-001A DeBary man was arrested and charged with exploding a military device on the hood of the car of an Orange City man who took his cellphone and returned it without the SIM card that contains personal data, Orange City police said.

Aaron Nesbitt, 29, a former employee of Mickey Finns Restaurant at 816 Saxon Blvd., was angry with Armanny Echevarria, 25, of Orange City over the phone incident, police said.

So, on Sunday at 7:49 p.m., Nesbitt went to the parking lot of the restaurant where Echevarria worked and placed a military artillery simulator explosive — an M-21 — on the hood of Echevarria’s car, said Orange city police spokesman Lt. Jason Sampsell.

Nesbitt was charged with criminal mischief of $1,000 or more, possession of explosives without a license and using a destructive device that could cause bodily harm and property damage. He is being held without bail at Volusia County Branch Jail.

According to Sampsell, Nesbitt has former military training with the M-21 artillery simulator device.

“It’s a flash bang, like a large firecracker, just a little larger than the carton of a toilet paper’s roll,” Sampsell said. “It produces a flash, noise and concussion.”

The device, used largely for training in the military, broke the windshield of the car, ripped off a wiper blade and damaged the hood of the car.

Nesbitt ran from the scene carrying a backpack and police cordoned off an area that encompassed the nearby Marketplace 8 movie theater and a shopping plaza. The movie theater and other businesses were evacuated as a precaution, Sampsell said.

The backpack was found with no other devices. Nesbitt was located at a nearby restaurant, Sampsell said.

The case also shut down Saxon Boulevard from Enterprise Road to Threadgill Place, police said.


Anger over photo behind stabbing death of West Boca restaurant owner March 15, 2014

fl-tilus-lebron-first-appearance-a-jpg-20140314The horrific crime unfolded inside the packed dining room of a popular West Boca eatery. More than 20 terrified diners watched as a worker wielding a huge knife stabbed the restaurant owner and another worker during a dinnertime melee.

The reason for the rampage? Palm Beach deputies say the worker — 42-year-old Tilus Lebrun — was angry that his photo had been taken and posted online on March 2. So he attacked Dimitrios Karaloukas, owner of Jimmy the Greek Taverna, during Thursday’s supper rush.

Karaloukas died of his wounds a short while after being stabbed. The other worker, not yet identified by deputies, was taken to Delray Medical Center in critical condition.

In the aftermath of the crime, Karaloukas’s family was left in shock.

Joseph Scurto, who is Karaloukas’ stepbrother, described him as a family man who loved his wife, kids and grandkids. Scurto said Karaloukas, who lived in West Boca and was known by most as “Jimmy,” cared for his restaurant as he would a child — and that he treated his customers well.

“He loved what he did, he loved the people that he served,” Scurto said in a phone call from his home in New York on Friday. “If someone came in and they didn’t have money, he would take care of them”.

Lebrun’s cousin Markenson Augustin, 21, who lives with Lebrun in Pompano Beach, said he’s a “good guy” working two jobs to help send money back to his three children in Haiti. Augustin said Lebrun moved to the U.S. in 2005.

“We’re shocked because we didn’t expect something like this,” Augustin said in a phone call Friday. “He was working like crazy. I don’t see him too much because he’s always working.”

He didn’t know why Lebrun would get so upset about a photo.

Augustin said Lebrun worked at the Sun Sentinel Distribution Center in Deerfield Beach. Hired through a temporary staffing agency, he worked from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. He started working at Jimmy the Greek restaurant in January, Augustin said. His shift as a dishwasher started there at 3:30 p.m.

Augustin said Lebrun expressed frustration with the restaurant job. Augustin said he told Lebrun he should quit the dishwashing job.

State records show no arrests for Lebrun. Augustin described Lebrun as a normal person and said he and the rest of the family were stunned over his murder arrest.

Deputies say the attack happened at about 7:30 p.m. with the restaurant bustling with customers.

Employees told deputies Karaloukas, 61, was sitting near the front of the restaurant when walked up to him carrying a large knife and began stabbing him, three times in his left side and once in the back, for no apparent reason, the arrest report said.

Karaloukas died from his injuries at about 8:45 p.m., according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies found Lebrun wearing a black work apron and carrying a knife on the 8000 block of Glades Road near the Florida Turnpike shortly after the killing. Some witnesses told Sun Sentinel news partner CBS12 the weapon was a meat cleaver.

While sitting in a deputy’s cruiser, Lebrun asked the deputy if he was Haitian, and when the deputy said yes, Lebrun spoke to him in Creole saying: “I killed him because he took my photograph on March 2 and posted it on the Internet.”

In an interview at sheriff’s office headquarters, Lebrun told the deputy: “They need to learn how to respect people. I have three kids in Haiti. I know they will suffer, but they will survive,” according to the report.

The deputy said while driving to headquarters for the interview, Lebrun repeatedly said Karaloukas had taken his photo without permission.

Lebrun is being held in Palm Beach County Jail without bail on homicide and attempted homicide charges.


Brothers duke it out with garbage cans, shovels and knives March 10, 2014

Their names were not Cain and Abel, but their fight was similarly epic.

sfl-flduh-brothers-garbage-shovels-knives-2014-002The battle between the brothers began on Feb. 27 at a Cat Mar Road residence, according to an Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office arrest report, where a deputy answered a call to investigate a fight.

“Upon arriving on scene I saw the defendant, Thomas (Alan) Mealer, and (the) victim/brother … outside of the trailer,” the deputy wrote in the report. “The defendant was swinging a garbage can at (his brother) and (his brother) had a pocket knife in his hand. I immediately gave verbal commands to both the defendant and (his brother) to drop the weapons.”

Mealer dropped the garbage can and his brother threw away the knife. The deputy noted Mealer’s brother was bleeding from his forehead but detained him first because of the knife. EMS came to the scene but Mealer’s brother refused medical treatment.

The person who called the Sheriff’s Office said the two had been yelling all day, and at one point the yelling got louder so she peeked out her window. It was then she saw Mealer hit his brother in the face with a shovel.

The deputy noted Mealer “appeared highly intoxicated.” He said he and his brother had been arguing because his brother said none of the family members loved nor cared about Mealer. He denied knowing anything about a shovel, but then said his brother pulled a knife on him at which point he hit him in the head with a shovel.

The deputy retrieved the shovel and noted it appeared to have hair on the corner.

Mealer was charged with aggravated battery using a deadly weapon and will appear before a judge on April 8.


What should a mother do if someone is allegedly bullying her daughter at school? March 8, 2014

Hey, pick on someone your own size!

fight8n-4-webA Florida mom got into a fistfight with one of her daughter’s classmates in the Hialeah Middle School parking lot — and the entire fight was over alleged bullying.

Irisdaly Rios, 35, was hit with battery charges for slugging Ashley Perez, 12, in a brawl captured by shocked bystanders, according to reports.

And neither side of the schoolyard scuffle is backing down.

Rios claims that Perez has been repeatedly bullying her daughter and that the Tuesday tussle was sparked because she was defending her daughter.

“This girl bullies my daughter every day,” Rios told NBC Miami.

The middle school girl suffered a chipped tooth, scratches on her neck and a bruised head.

Perez admitted that she and Rios’ daughter have argued in the past, but things never got physical.

When an irate Rios approached her, Perez said she thought the mom was going to offer advice on how to patch things up with the girl.


Irisdaly Rios and Ashley Perez can be seen trading punches and swipes at each other.

“That’s why I walked to the car, because usually, if it was another mother, she’ll be like, ‘Oh, what’s happening to my daughter. Let’s fix this up,’” Perez told NBC Miami. “She got aggressive, and I think she felt her daughter was in danger.”

Police identified Rios and Perez from cellphone video footage taken at the scene of the wild fight.

Rios exited her car and the two got into a shouting match — then the fists started flying.

Perez, defending herself, was able to scratch the mom’s arm and neck, but Rios appears to be the aggressor in the incident.

“It was crazy,” Damian Portal, who recorded the incident, told CBS Miami. “She started holding and touching her and then she backed away, she approached her and started swinging.”

Police said that Rios should have contacted the school or police over the bullying allegations.

“Everybody loses here,” Hialeah Police spokesman Carl Zogby told NBC Miami.



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