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Skimmer Found at St. Petersburg Gas Station

Skimmer | St. Petersburg Police | Crime

St. Petersburg police say customers who used the pumps might want to check their credit card and bank accounts.

ST. PETERSBURG – A skimmer was discovered on a gas pump Thursday (June 22) when a customer complained his rewards card would not work.

The skimmer was discovered shortly before 9 a.m. at the Shell Station, 3801 66th St. N. A customer complained his rewards card would not work at the pump.

The gas station attendant checked the pump and found the security tape had been tampered with and a skimming device had been placed inside the pump. St. Petersburg police said they believe the skimmer was placed sometime between 3 p.m. Wednesday (June 21)  and 8:49 a.m. Thursday (June 22).

Customers who may have used the pumps at that Shell station during that time period may want to check their credit card/bank accounts, police said.

For information about the St. Petersburg police, go to police.stpete.org.

Photo courtesy of the St. Petersburg Police Department.

St Petersburg Police | Crime | Gas Skimmer Found | Tampa Bay News | TB Reporter

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Four Accused in Hernando Pawn Shop Burglary

Elijah Pickard | Hernando Sheriff | Arrests

The mother of one suspect turned him in. The others were captured after a chase. Hernando sheriff’s deputies are searching for a fifth suspect.

HERNANDO COUNTY – Sheriff’s deputies have accused four boys of stealing a car and driving from Orlando to Spring Hill to commit the pawn shop burlgary.

Elijah Pickard, 19, of Orlando, was charged with one count each of grand theft auto, resisting arrest without violence, fleeing and eluding, possession of burglary tools, and burglary to a structure. The burglary charge has enhancements of crossing county lines to commit a burglary and wearing a mask during the commission of a burglary.

Deputies said Pickard’s mother, Christina, turned her son in. They said Elijah admitted his involvement in the case.

The other three who were arrested are juveniles and are not being identified by name.

One of the boys, aged 12, is charged with one count each of grand theft auto, resisting arrest without violence, and burglary to a structure with the enhancements of crossing county lines to commit a burglary and wearing a mask during the commission of a burglary.

A second juvenile, aged 15, was charged with one count each of grand theft auto, burglary to a dwelling while occupied, resisting arrest without violence, fleeing and eluding, possession of burglary tools, and burglary to a structure with the enhancements of crossing county lines to commit a burglary and wearing a mask during the commission of a burglary.

The third juvenile, aged 16, was charged with one count each of grand theft auto, resisting arrest without violence, and burglary to a structure with the enhancement of crossing county lines to commit a burglary. Hernando County Sheriff’s deputies said he was listed by the Orlando Police Department as a missing juvenile. He also had two pickup orders from Orange County for charges of burglary and battery, deputies said.

All three suspects admitted that they had traveled to Spring Hill from Orlando to commit the burglary at the Gold-N-Pawnd II store, 5224 Mariner Blvd., in Spring Hill, deputies said. They also admitted the driver of the car they were in fled from deputies during attempted traffic stops.

All three juveniles were taken to the Department of Juvenile Justice in Ocala.

Deputies said they are searching for another juvenile in connection with this case.

The case began about 4 a.m. Monday (June 19) when a commercial alarm went off at the Gold-N-Pawnd II. When deputies arrived, they found the glass in the front door of the business had been broken out.

While responding to the call, Hernando sheriff’s Sgt, William Hillman saw a dark-colored car leaving the area of the business. The driver was travelling at a high rate of speed. Hillman was unable to catch up to the car and did not pursue it.

The car, a Hyundai Sonata, was then spotted traveling west on Northcliffe Boulevard by Deputy Tom Cameron. Cameron tried to stop it but the driver fled at a high rate of speed and turned north on Deltona, deputies said. The Sonata’s driver continued to flee and turned east onto Cortez Boulevard. Cameron stopped chasing.

A short time later, Deputy Victor Latty saw the Sonata traveling east on Cortez Boulevard at Barclay Avenue. Deputies said the driver failed to stop at the red light and continued eastbound. The driver then turned southbound onto the Suncoast Parkway.Latty said he also attempted a traffic stop but the driver fled. Latty also stopped chasing the car.

Latty was headed south on the Suncoast Parkway when he said he saw smoke and what appeared to be a crash. The Sonata had been in a single-vehicle crash on the side of the road.

As Latty approached the crash site, he said he saw four boys running from the car. Latty again turned on his emergency lights and ordered them to stop. All four continued running away.

During the next several hours numerous patrol deputies, two sheriff’s K-9 units, aviation, and two additional K-9 teams (one from the Florida Department of Corrections and one from the Sumter Correctional Institute) searched the area of Pristine Place, Hibiscus Springs Apts. and surrounding neighborhoods for the suspects.

Deputy Brandon Cox and K-9 Judge located one suspect on Dow Lane. Cpl. Steve Miller and K-9 Justice caught one suspect at the south end of Catfish Lane (Hibiscus Springs Apts.). Sgt. Scott Reak caught the third suspect at Barclay Avenue and Powell Road. At least one additional suspect eluded deputies. After a five-hour search, deputies said, they were unable to locate him.

Deputies said they contacted the Sonata’s owner, who is from the Orlando area. The owner did not know the vehicle had been taken and subsequently reported it stolen.

During the search for the suspects, deputies said they learned that one of them had entered the garage area of a residence on Carlisle Drive in Pristine Place to elude law enforcement. The homeowner was at home at the time and saw the suspect inside his garage. The homeowner was able to provide deputies with a detailed description.

During this time, deputies on scene at the Gold-N-Pawnd discovered that the suspects broke the glass on the door but were unable to get inside because of the burglar bars on the doors. Deputies said that meant they were unable to steal guns or money, which they told deputies were the targeted items.

Deputies said they received a call Tuesday (June 20) from Christina Pickard who said that her son, Elijah, admitted to her that he had been involved in the case. Pickard told deputies she would bring her son to Hernando County to turn himself in.

For information about the Hernando sheriff, go to hernandosheriff.org.

Photo shows Elijah Pickard.

Hernando Sheriff | Crime | Burglary | Arrests | Pawn Shop | Tampa Bay News | TB Reporter

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Rice Collects Endorsements from Elected Officials

Darden Rice is running for her second term on the St. Petersburg City Council.

ST. PETERSBURG – Darden Rice has received endorsements from fellow City Council members as well as other elected officials from the Tampa Bay area in her campaign to retain her District 4.

Among Rice’s endorsements: state Sen. Darryl Rouson; state Reps. Ben Diamond and Wengay Newton; St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman; St. Petersburg City Council members Lisa Wheeler-Bowman, Karl Nurse, Jim Kennedy, and Charlie Gerdes; county commissioners Pat Gerard, Janet Long, Ken Welch, and John Morroni; Pinellas County School Board member Rene Flowers; Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn; and Tampa City Council members Mike Suarez, Yolie Capin, Harry Cohen, and Charlie Miranda.

“Darden is truly dedicated to the people of St. Petersburg,” St. Petersburg City Council member Karl Nurse said. “She has a passion for public service that shines through the work she does, especially when it comes to constituent services. I’m proud to support Darden again in her race for City Council.”

Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch said, “Councilwoman Rice has done great work both for the City of St. Petersburg and Pinellas County. Her leadership on important issues like fair wages and the environment have a positive impact on all of us every day. I’m looking forward to continuing our work together during her second term on Council.”

Rice said, “I’m honored to have the support of my colleagues in St. Petersburg, Pinellas County, and around Tampa Bay.  It’s important in local government to work cooperatively to make positive change, and I look forward to four more years of progress.”

Rice has also been endorsed by former Gov. and current Congressman Charlie Crist, Congresswoman Kathy Castor, and Congresswoman and gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham.

She also has the support of several neighborhood leaders in District 4, including Marlene Murray, Lee Palmer, Alisha Ford, Jack Spinrad, Scott Willis, Cathy Wilson, Thomas Paterek, James Keane, Jason and Megan Kotsko, Lisset and Wayne Hanewicz, Kristen Noakes-Fry, Peter Motzenbecker, and Phil Peyton.

The West Central Florida Labor Council, SEIU, Sun Coast Police Benevolent Association, St. Petersburg Association of Fire Fighters, Sierra Club, and Florida Conservation Voters are also supporting her re-election.

Rice is facing a challenge from consultant Jerick Johnston.

Qualifying for the St. Petersburg election ends at 5 p.m. today (June 23). The primary is Aug. 29 and the General Election is Nov. 7.

For information on Rice, go to votedardenrice.com.

Darden Rice | St Pete Election | Politics | Endorsements | Tampa Bay News | TB Reporter

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Wimauma Teen Charged with Attempted Murder

Osvaldo Rodriguez | Hillsborough Sheriff | Arrests

He is accused of shooting a 16 year old, Hillsborough deputies said.

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY – A 19 year old from Wimauma was arrested Thursday (June 22) in connection with the shooting of another teen, according to the Hillsborough Sheriff’s Office.

Osvaldo Rodriguez, 19, of Wimauma, was charged with second degree attempted murder.

The shooting happened about 2:01 a.m. June 9. Deputies said the 16 year old was driving south on West Lake Drive from North Street when he saw Rodriguez standing with two other people. Rodriguez had a handgun, which he aimed toward the 16 year old’s vehicle and began shooting. Deputies said the 16 year old suffered life threatening injuries.

For information about the Hillsborough sheriff, go to hcso.tampa.fl.us.

Hillsborough Sheriff | Attempted Murder | Crime | Arrests | Tampa Bay News | TB Reporter

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Motorcyclist Seriously Injured in St. Petersburg Crash

St Petersburg Police Car | Police | Public Safety

He was thrown from his motorcycle.

ST. PETERSBURG – A motorcyclist was seriously injured Thursday (June 22) when he was thrown from his bike during a crash, St. Petersburg police said.

Shaun W. Arnold, 25, was taken to Bayfront Health St. Petersburg with life threatening injuries. The other driver, Mirsad Sinanovic, 57, was evaluated by paramedics at the scene and released.

The crash happened about 2 p.m. at the intersection of 38th Avenue and 31st Street N. Sinanovic was driving an Acura sedan south on 31st Street. As he began to make a left turn onto 38th, Arnold, who was riding a Ducati that was westbound on 38th, changed from the curb lane to the median lane and accelerated, police said.

The Ducati struck the driver side of the Acura and Arnold was thrown from his motorcycle. Police said a helmet was located at the scene, but it has not been determined whether or not it was being worn when the crash occurred.

For information about the St. Petersburg police, go to police.stpete.org.

St. Petersburg Police | Motorcycle Crash | Shaun Arnold | Ducati Crash | Traffic Crash | Tampa Bay News | TB Reporter

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Kriseman Raises Rainbow Flag over St. Pete City Hall

Gay Pride | Rainbow Flag | Pride Fest

The flag raising officially kicks off Pride Weekend, the largest LGBT Pride fest in the state.

ST. PETERSBURG – Mayor Rick Kriseman raised the rainbow flag – the symbol of gay pride – over the St. Petersburg City Hall this morning (June 22).

The event heralds Pride Weekend, which is the culmination of the month-long St. Pete Pride. One of the highlights of the weekend is an illuminated night parade on Bayshore Drive in downton St. Petersburg. The Saturday Party (June 24)  begins at 2 p.m.with the Parade kicking off at 6:30 p.m.

Events continue Sunday (June 25) with, among other activities, the St. Pete Pride Street Festival, which begins at 9 a.m. and ends at 4 p.m. Expected to draw more than 50,000., the St Pete Pride Street Festival will again be the largest community event of the season as festival goers come together to make history while enjoying a day of live performances and entertainment, community booths, art and fantastic food in paradise.

For a full list of events and more information, go to stpetepride.com.

Gay Pride | Rainbow Flag | Pride Fest

Photos courtesy of the city of St. Petersburg.

St Petersburg | St Pete Pride | Pride Fest | Pride Weekend | Pride Parade | Events | Things to Do | Tampa Bay News | TB Reporter

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Bat-Free, Pasco Fire Station 39 Reopens

Bats | Animals | Critters

The station was evacuated earlier this month because bats had invaded the building.

PASCO COUNTY – Firefighters moved back into Fire Station 39 on Wednesday (June 21) about 12 days after they evacuated the building.

The building, 1630 County Line Road in Hudson, was temporarily closed after it became infested with bats.

Pasco County officials said all bats have been removed and proactive measures have been taken to ensure that the bats will not enter back into the living quarters through any of the pre-existing openings, which were sealed. The station was cleaned and disinfected and all ceiling tiles that were affected have been replaced.

Pasco Fire Rescue is also allowing the station commanders to keep the bay doors shut to deter any bats from entering the bay area.

For information about Pasco Fire Rescue, go to pascocountyfl.net.

Photo is from TB Reporter files and does NOT SHOW one of the Pasco fire Station bats.

Pasco Fire Rescue | Bats | Fire Station 39 | Animals | Public Safety | Tampa Bay News | TB Reporter

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Largo Man Accused of Impersonating Cop

John Dawson | Pasco Sheriff | Arrests

He flashed red and white emergency lights and blue-tinted headlights at another motorist, according to Pasco sheriff’s deputies.

PASCO COUNTY – A Largo man has been accused of pretending to be a law enforcement officer while in a confrontation with another driver, according to the Pasco Sheriff’s Office.

John William Dawson, 49, of Largo, was charged with one count of impersonating a law enforcement officer. Deputies said the Florida Department of Law Enforcement does not have Dawson listed as a certified law enforcement officer.

“I urge everyone, if they feel uncomfortable with a situation similar to this, to proceed safely to a well lit area and call 911,” Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco said. “I cannot stress this safety message enough and I am thankful this case was resolved with an arrest.”

The incident happened about 4:19 p.m. Monday (June 19). Deputies said Dawson was driving his 2012 Chevrolet Impala, which had a Florida Fraternal Order of Police tag, westbound on  State Road 54 in Lutz. Dawson used red and white emergency style lights that he had mounted to his car’s dashboard to flag down the driver who was ahead of him in traffic. Dawson also flashed his car’s headlights, which have a blue tint, deputies said.

The other motorist pulled into the parking lot of a nearby business and videotaped the ensuing encounter on his cell phone. Deputies said that, as Dawson got out of the Chevrolet, he placed a necklace with what appeared to be a law enforcement badge around his neck.

Dawson told the motorist to “slow down.” He told the driver that he was on a “call” and would arrest the man if the motorist ever followed him again. Deputies said Dawson order the man to immediately leave the area.

The motorist picked Dawson out of a photo pack. After Dawson was arrested Thursday (June 21),  he told deputies he saw the motorist driving erratically so he used the red and white emergency type lights and flashed his blue tinted headlights to try to get the man to slow down. Deputies said Dawson also told them he placed the badge around his neck when the motorist contacted him about the incident. Dawson told deputies he later threw the badge in a garbage can at an unidentified business.

No one was injured during the incident.

For information about the Pasco sheriff, go to pascosheriff.com.

Pasco Sheriff | Crime | Impersonating a Cop | Arrests | Tampa Bay News | TB Reporter

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Tampa Home Burns

Tampa House Fire | Tampa Fire Rescue | House Fire

The family of five and their dog escaped.

TAMPA – A family of five was left homeless this morning (June 22) after a fire destroyed their home, Tampa Fire Rescue said.

There were no injuries. The five-member family and their dog escaped before firefighters arrived. Firefighters said the family was quick to respond to the working smoke detectors in their home
which was critical in alerting the family of the presence of fire. The family was taken in by friends in the neighborhood.

First firefighters on the scene at Estuary Drive in New Tampa found heavy smoke and flames coming from the single story home. The fire was under control by 1:50 a.m. and firefighters were able to search the house.

The house appears to be a total loss, firefighters said. The fire, which was accidental, appears to have started in the garage.

For information about Tampa Fire Rescue, go to tampagov.net.

Photo courtesy of Tampa Fire Rescue.

Tampa Fire Rescue | House Fire | Fire | Tampa Fire | Tampa Bay News | TB Reporter

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Voter Approval Needed for Vinoy Project

Vinoy | Parking Garage | Business

The Vinoy wants to expand its parking by building a one-story garage with about 270 new parking spaces on top of what are now eight tennis courts. The new tennis courts will be on the roof of the parking garage.

ST. PETERSBURG – The historic Vinoy Renaissance Resort and Golf Club will be seeking St. Petersburg voters’ approval in November for a privately funded one-story parking garage, part of a larger multi-year $50-million-plus redevelopment project at the hotel.

The improvements do not involve taxpayer funding, will not alter the hotel’s footprint or St. Petersburg’s waterfront parks system, and will add about 270 new parking spaces. Increased parking will be available for hotel guests, attendees of on-site events, people in the community who use The Vinoy’s facilities, and diners who visit the hotel’s restaurants, which are open to the public. The parking garage will help nearby residents by alleviating some congestion and street parking in front of homes.

The proposed garage will be one story and located immediately behind the hotel. Eight existing tennis courts will be replaced on top of the new parking garage.

Voters will be asked to vote yes on the referendum question in the Nov.7 municipal election. As a historic part of downtown St. Petersburg, portions of the Vinoy property are subject to deed restrictions and require approval from city residents for construction.

Vinoy | Proposed Parking | BusinessVinoy | Proposed Parking | BusinessThe voter approval process was put in place during a 1984 agreement when the Vinoy helped complete the city’s waterfront park system by trading its waterfront property for some of the area immediately behind the hotel. Voters supported similar improvements to the Vinoy in referendums in 1997 and 2007.

“We think voters will be pleased to support the idea of additional parking at the Vinoy, because it does not involve taxpayer dollars, does not alter the footprint of the hotel, or impact our waterfront parks system,” said Barbara Readey, general manager at the Vinoy Renaissance Resort and Golf Club.

The entire redevelopment project is privately funded by the hotel owner, FelCor Lodging Trust. The project includes updates and expansions to the spa, fitness center, golf course clubhouse, tennis courts, public restaurant facilities and parking garage. Paul’s Landing, the new 200-seat marina-front restaurant, will be open to the public and includes indoor and outdoor seating as well as a large grass event space.

“Hotel ownership is committed to the long-term health of the Vinoy and ensuring it continues to be an iconic part of downtown St. Petersburg,” said Debra Feldman, vice president capital transactions at FelCor Lodging Trust, owner of the Vinoy. “We look forward to answering residents’ questions about the project and continuing to ensure that the Vinoy is a good neighbor.”

For information about the project, go to vinoyimprovements.com.

Renderings of proposed garage courtesy of the Vinoy.

The Vinoy | Parking Garage | Rederendum | Vinoy Vote | St Petersburg | Tampa Bay News | TB Reporter

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