Claude Nolan
Geer Services, Inc.
Charles Parish
Geer Services, Inc.
Geer Services, Inc.
Underwoods
Geer Services, Inc.
San Marco Properties
Jul 272013
 

Thinkstock/Comstock(HIALEAH, Fla.) — Seven people are dead in Southern Florida after a gunman went on a rampage Friday night through an apartment complex in the city of Hialeah.

Police are still trying to piece together exactly what happened, but say they first received reports of shots fired in the apartment complex at 6:30 p.m.

The gunman, who has not been identified by officials yet, is believed to have fatally shot six people during the shooting spree. He allegedly first shot the couple that managed the apartment complex then went upstairs shooting another man across the street. Police spokesman Sgt. Eddie Rodriquez told ABC News that they aren’t sure if the victim in the neighboring building was targeted or killed by a stray bullet.

Then he went up another flight of stairs, kicked open a door, shot three people in that apartment, and went upstairs again.

The gunman then took two or three hostages, resulting in a lengthy standoff with authorities. Rodriquez said that about 40 residents remain evacuated, though the entire block was cleared at one point.

Police negotiators tried to talk the gunman down but after a several hours they realized he was most likely not going to surrender quietly. The 8-hour standoff ended when a SWAT team was sent in to subdue the gunman to rescue the hostages.

The SWAT team attempted to subdue the gunman with flash grenades, but Detective Carl Zogby said they were forced to shoot him.

“At his last moments he was holding at least two hostages at gun point. SWAT members of the Hialeah Police Department knew there was no more time to negotiate and the gunman was shot and killed by Hialeah police.”

Including the gunman, seven people in total were killed in Hialeah overnight.

Police are working on identifying the gunman, who is believed to have acted alone, and are trying to determine a motive. Three of the victims still need to be identified, and officials are working on informing the next of kin.

“The most important part is over,” said Zogby. “The bad guy is down, he’s dead, he cannot hurt anybody anymore.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Jul 132013
 

Photo by Gary W. Green-Pool/Getty Images(SANFORD, Fla.) — Police in South Florida are bracing for the verdict in the racially charged George Zimmerman murder trial, creating places for people to peacefully protest, monitoring social media and urging people to remain calm.

“It’s a trying time for all of us. We’re not sure what the verdict is going to bring but it’s a great opportunity for evolution of the Sanford community,” Sanford Police Chief Cecil Smith said at a news conference Friday as the jury began its deliberations.

Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin in Sanford on Feb. 26, 2012. Zimmerman, 29, maintains he shot Martin, 17, in self-defense, while the state argued that Zimmerman “profiled” Martin and concluded he was a criminal.

The case took on racial overtones after police declined to charge Zimmerman, who is white and Hispanic. Martin was black.

Zimmerman was charged with murder nearly two months later by a special prosecutor appointed by the state.

Because of the tension over the case, the judge initially said she will delay the announcement of the jury’s eventual verdict by two hours to give police ample time to prepare for security. It’s not clear if that is still the plan.

Benjamin Crump, a lawyer for Martin’s family, told ABC News Friday that he did not expect violence.

“I certainly don’t think Trayvon Martin supporters are going to be emotionally overcharged to act out in a way that’s not responsible because they were very emotional when we were trying to get an arrest, and they were very peaceful, there was no violence,” he said.

The jury could let Zimmerman walk free or convict him on second degree murder or manslaughter, charges that could send him to prison for the rest of his life if convicted of the most serious charge.

Smith said the aftermath of the shooting had changed the “mindset, perception of what we see in our country today.”

In Sanford, a town of 50,000 people, he said law enforcement has been knocking on doors, introducing themselves to people in order to foster better relations between police and the community.

In Miami-Dade County, where Martin lived with his mother, police have launched a campaign to encourage people to “be vocal, not violent” and have designated two parks where people can assemble peacefully to express their feelings.

A “rumor control” hotline, which is being staffed 24 hours a day, was launched in the county on Friday to address any problems that may arise after the verdict has been read. Authorities also said they are monitoring social media.

In Sarasota, Fla., at a news conference, Chief Bernadette DiPino encouraged people to react in a “civil and peaceful” manner to the verdict.

“When a verdict is read, not everyone is going to be happy,” she said. “We are asking the public to take part in peaceful responses and speak with their mouths, not with their hands and not use weapons of any kind.”

More than 25,000 people assembled peacefully in Sanford in March 2012 to protest after police initially refused to arrest Zimmerman.

“They wanted an investigation, they asked for an arrest, they asked for charges to be made and they asked for a trial. Each of those things has taken place,” Smith said.

Now, he said, “there’s nothing on the horizon for us other than to move forward.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Jun 092013
 

Photo by Joe Burbank-Pool/Getty Images(ORLANDO, Fla.) — A speech scientist said on Saturday that it was “imaginary stuff” to assert that Trayvon Martin could be heard pleading for help on 911 tapes the night he was killed in a confrontation with George Zimmerman, who is accused of murder in Martin’s death.

The testimony came in an unusual court hearing, in which Zimmerman’s defense team called two witnesses in an effort to rebut the testimony Friday of witnesses who said that Martin pleaded for help before he was shot and killed by the former neighborhood watch captain.

The defense questioned the methodology used to detect Martin’s supposed howls and pleas on 911 calls made by frightened neighbors who witnessed the fatal altercation on Feb. 26, 2012.

Two forensic analysts said Friday that they detected, one by using a limited voice sample of the Florida teenager, Martin screaming for help on 911 audio moments before he was shot and killed by Zimmerman.

“That’s imaginary stuff,” speech scientist George Doddington said when asked by defense attorney Mark O’Mara about state witness Alan Reich’s testimony that he picked up Martin screaming “I’m begging you” on 911 audio.

Doddington called the methodology used to detect the audio “absurd.”

The expected final witness in the hearing to determine whether a jury will hear testimony that Martin screamed for help before he died got stuck on an airport tarmac.

The announcement by Judge Debra Nelson was followed by a court recess that will end with the first day of jury selection Monday as the second-degree murder trial of Zimmerman begins.

ABC News exclusively obtained a sample of Martin’s voice and sent the very short sample taken from his cell phone, in which he can be heard horsing around with friends, to a forensic analyst.

Kent Gibson of Forensic Audio tells ABC News that a comparison of Martin’s voice, Zimmerman’s voice and the screams on the 911 tape, indicate the voice is more likely to be Zimmerman than Martin. But neither result reaches the 60 percent threshold of certainty Gibson said he needed to be assured.

Gibson noted much of the howling and pleading overheard on that 911 tape is muffled or obscured, and that only two seconds of the tape are useable. He said there could not be definitive identification of “the screamer.”

During Saturday’s hearing, Doddington testified that ultimately humans can tell the difference between voices better than any machine. The state’s counter-argument was that the jury should be presented with all sides and make the decision for themselves.

After the the hearing, the defense filed yet another motion asking that the start of the trial be delayed.

Unless the judge grants the request, the hearing will resume after a jury of six is selected. The process to find that group of men or women along with four alternates will begin Monday. There were 500 notices sent out in March across Seminole County, Fla.

The names of potential jurors in the trial will be kept confidential. In court they will be referred to only by jury number.

Nelson also ruled earlier that potential jurors will not be sequestered. It is estimated that the process of jury selection will take anywhere from one to three weeks. Of course, finding 10 people who have heard little about this controversial, highly publicized case won’t be easy.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

May 112013
 

ABC News(BARTOW, Fla.) — A Polk County, Fla. school bus driver who allegedly set up a fight between two teenage passengers and encouraged them to brawl in the front yard of her home is in custody, charged with two counts of child abuse, according to the county sheriff’s office.

Authorities said Patrice Sanders, 29, of Lakeland, Fla., was driving students home from three different Bartow, Fla. area schools when she spotted two girls arguing in the back of the bus Thursday afternoon.

“This is going to be handled today and they just need to fight,” Sanders reportedly said.

Instead of making her normal route, Sanders allegedly skipped the rest of the bus stops, drove 20 miles to her home, and ordered all 34 students on board to get off the bus. She reportedly even offered the 13-year-old and the 16-year-old who she thought needed to duke it out Vaseline or baby oil so they wouldn’t scratch their faces.

The brawl, which was captured on video by another student, shows the two girls punching, kicking, and pulling each other’s hair. In the recording, one of the girls is seen throwing her opponent into a barbecue grill.

Sanders did not try to stop the fight, and instead stood by and looked on until the two students decided to quit, according to a statement from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.

Following the fight, Sanders got the students back onto the bus, the statement said. But when the two girls continued to exchange blows, Sanders allegedly pulled over and refereed the second round.

“What happens on the bus, stays on the bus,” Sanders reportedly told the passengers.

The 13-year-old’s mother reported the incident to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and took her daughter to the hospital, the statement said. She was not seriously injured from the fight.

In addition to child abuse, Sanders was charged with false imprisonment, two counts of child neglect and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The two students involved in the scuffle were both charged with misdemeanor battery.

“Come on girl, what are you thinking? How in the world could you allow and promote and encourage children to fight?” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said.

Sanders is in custody at the Polk County Jail. Additional charges against her are pending further interviews with other students onboard, according to the sheriff’s office.

Sanders was due in court this morning.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

May 052013
 

iStockphoto(MELBOURNE BEACH, Fla.) — A teenage surfer is recovering in a Florida hospital after a shark took a bite out of his leg on Saturday.

Michael Adler and four friends went surfing at Melbourne Beach on Saturday morning, an area known for its bull sharks.

The 16-year-old said he didn’t see the shark that bit him, he recalled the moment of terror when it sunk its razor-sharp teeth into his leg.

 “His whole jaw just crammed down on my leg and right from there I kind of knew it was a shark attack,” he said. “So then I was paddling in as fast as I could.”

Adler’s friends said a man with military training raced to his aid, using his surf board leash as a tourniquet.

Doctors said because of the anonymous stranger’s quick-thinking, Adler was able to keep his foot and doctors were able to repair four tendons.

“The doctors told me that I was lucky that it didn’t hit like a major artery, cuz that would’ve been a lot more bleeding,” Adler said.

Adler later tweeted “I better be on Shark Week.”

The shark attack didn’t deter Adler’s friends, though. After dropping him off at the hospital they headed back to the beach.

When Adler recovers, he said he plans to do the same.

“I am definitely going to surf in the future,” he said. “I wish I could surf tomorrow.”

 

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio