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Latest from Brandon Hogan

    Tropical Storm Nestor hit the panhandle so hard October 18 that tornadoes organized all the way down here in Central Florida.  One of them touched down near Seminole, FL; it damaged a mobile home park without injuries, the National Weather Service reports. Hours later, another tornado organized in Hillsborough County and ripped into Polk County, damaging at least 50 homes and businesses. The latter took the roof off of a man’s garage in the Carillon Lakes neighborhood of Lakeland, FL. As he documented the damage to his home, he turned his camera around to find a herd of cows wandering through the street. The video, published by Fun in the Sun Floridian, shows about nine cows following their rancher among houses damaged by the 120 mph winds. Mobile users see video here. The community appeared bemused, the unidentified Lakeland man says that he and his neighbors are thankful no one was hurt. It’s likely that the violent weather destroyed the rancher’s fences, but a definite reason has not been pinned down at the time of this report.
  • Police say that new footage has given them a lead in the search for an Orlando-area toddler’s parents. Surveillance video recorded on Monday shows two suspects walking away from a burning car with the three-year-old boy. The Buffalo Police Department now confirms that the boy’s parents, with their child and a family friend, drove that car to New York after renting it in Orlando. BPD Captain Jeff Rinaldo provided commentary as the video was shown to the public for the first time: Mobile users see video here. Rinaldo says that the remains of two bodies were found inside of that vehicle, but the search is still on for the toddler’s parents, 31-year-old Miguel Anthony Valentin-Colon and 24-year-old Nicole Merced Plaud, as well as for the family friend who was with them.   The boy is now in the custody of Child Protective Services.
  • On the same day it was upgraded to Tropical Depression Nine, the nearby Atlantic disturbance has since gained enough strength to become Tropical Storm Humberto. The National Hurricane Center made the announcement with the release of their 11p.m. advisory report, Friday the 13th. At the time of this report, Tropical Storm Humberto is located about 130 miles East-Southeast of Great Abaco Island, and about 225 miles East-Southeast from Freeport, Bahamas. Maximum sustained wind speeds are 40mph with wind gusts of 50mph, just barely surpassing the threshold for a tropical storm. It is the eighth storm to be given a name during the 2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season. Forecast cone as of 9/13/2019, courtesy of the National Hurricane Center (above) Current models show the slow-moving tropical storm making it’s way up through the Bahamas on Saturday, a brush with Florida’s East coast is still expected on Sunday. The NHC has issued two advisory points at the time of this report: 1. Humberto will likely bring tropical-storm-force winds and heavy rainfall to portions of the Northwestern Bahamas on Saturday. Significant storm surge is not expected in the Northwest Bahamas from this system. Residents there should follow any advice given by local officials. 2. Heavy rainfall and scattered flash flooding is possible this weekend in coastal sections of Eastern Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. The chance of heavy rainfall affecting coastal North Carolina early next week continues to diminish. Stay with us in the coming days for severe weather coverage that you can count on. While you’re here, check out our hurricane guide.
  • This is a timely update to “Watching Tropical Depression Five’s path,” published August 24 at 3:39pm Tropical Depression Five has gained enough strength to become Tropical Storm Dorian, the National Hurricane Center announced Saturday evening. Dorian is the fourth tropical storm of the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season. NHC Forecasters say it could turn into a hurricane by Thursday, August 29. Forecast cone as of 8/24/2019, courtesy of the National Hurricane Center (above)  Current models show a possibility that Dorian could strengthen even further after entering the Caribbean, impacting Puerto Rico and surrounding islands as a hurricane. In the same amount of time, while Dorian is still expected to gain strength as it passes over those warmer waters, there’s also a chance that it won’t amount to much more than heavy rain and winds. The NHC has issued two advisory points at the time of this report: 1. Dorian is forecast to strengthen and could be near hurricane strength when it approaches the Lesser Antilles on Tuesday (August 27). 2. It is too soon to determine the specific timing or magnitude of impacts in the Lesser Antilles, but tropical storm or hurricane watches may be needed for a portion of the area on Sunday (August 25). We’re still days away from learning what will be the case, so we’ll keep an eye on the tropics. While you’re here, check out our hurricane guide.
  • Detectives are asking for tips as they investigate a string of commercial burglaries in Orlando. Four of them occurred during the night of August 4, as well as nine more similar robberies on August 11. The thirteen reports were issued mostly from nail salons and restaurants; in hindsight, deputies now think that these crimes were committed by the same two people. It’s also thought that the suspects used different cars to hide their tracks.  The criminals disguised themselves using bandanas and Halloween masks, but Orlando police have released surveillance images of the suspects’ vehicles in hopes that they will be recognized, leading to arrests. The 4-door sedan used in the robberies on August 4, believed to be a Chevy Cruz (above) An older 4-door car, possibly an Oldsmobile, used in the robberies on August 11 (below) If you know who owns these vehicles or where they can be found, please contact Crimeline with tips at (800) 423-8477.
  • Orlando police hope that this cell phone video will help them track down a group of men who assaulted two people downtown, using their skateboards as weapons. The attack happened in May, but deputies still haven’t made any arrests. That’s why footage filmed by a bystander was just released. Brett Thompson, the most injured of the two men who were attacked, says that he was trying to stop a fight between the skateboarders and his friend. The video shows the moment that he was blindsided by a skateboard to the face by one of the 6 to 8 attackers. Be advised that the video contains violence and foul language. Mobile users see video here. During his tenure at Orlando Regional Medical Center, Thompson stated that he did not give anyone permission to hit him, and desires prosecution. If you recognize anyone in the video, please contact Crimeline with tips at (800) 423-8477.
  • As the Orange County Regional History Center moves forward with plans to renovate, they’ve chosen to auction off their old display pieces instead of throwing them out. Businessman Peter Drucker once said, “if you want something new, you have to stop doing something old.” We went to a preview of the History Center’s Fabulous Floridiana auction and brought back pictures of a few pieces they’re inviting Central Floridians to give a new home. See our gallery here. Model alligators, whimsical wildlife, replicas of the legendary machines that transformed our state from a dense swamp to a national leader in agriculture and tourism. Giant postcards and model ships, space shuttles and orange crates. This is a free event, and it’s a must-see for any Floridian with deep roots, even if you don’t plan on buying anything. The auction is set to open for a final preview on Saturday August 10th at 10:00am before bidding starts at noon. If you do plan on buying, be assured that all proceeds will benefit programs at the center. All items are to be sold as-is. Please visit the History Center’s website for more information.
  • Officer Rich Gardner was off duty when he saw an SUV cross lanes and leave the road before hitting an embankment on the side of State Road 415, launching it in the air. “I gotta tell you, when they hit the trees it was just such a tremendous impact that my initial thought was there’s certainly no way somebody could survive this,” he said. Gardner ventured to rescue the vehicle’s passengers and pulled a man and woman from the smoking car; they were hurt, but are expected to survive. The event, as it quickly unfolded, was captured on Officer Gardner’s dashcam: Mobile users see video here. Gardner says that the driver of the SUV claimed to have been asleep at the wheel when they crashed.
  • K9 Falco passed away on Sunday. The nine year old German Shepard served the Orange County Sheriff’s Office for nearly eight years. OCSO announced his death “just shy of his tenth birthday.” A video posted Monday morning shows deputies in uniform, saluting K9 Falco as he is brought to Underhill Animal Hospital: Tributes to K9 Falco are getting attention on Facebook and Twitter: In a statement, OCSO said that K9 Falco passed away during the night after showing signs of distress.
  • Fissures in an industrial parking lot gave way early Wednesday morning, expanding to consume at least seven vehicles at the time of this report. Deputies said one of the holes is at least 30 yards wide. Truckers began to pour into the yard on Boggy Creek Road, searching to learn if they were one of the unlucky few who lost a rig that morning. The man in charge of guarding the entrance to the property only allowed truckers to enter, citing advice from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office to keep everyone else out. Rafael Montero was among them. “You cannot go against nature, you know? When you put too much weight on this place, that’s what happens.” Montero was one of the lucky ones, and could later be seen driving his trucks off of the lot to relocate them. The OCSO has contacted the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to classify the fissures as either sinkholes, dislodged soil from water runoff, or something else.  No injuries were reported. See the rest of our pictures here.
  • Brandon Hogan

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The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • President Donald Trump said Wednesday in 'a major breakthrough' he is lifting all sanctions against Turkey. >> Read more trending news  The sanctions were imposed last week. Turkey will stop combat and the ceasefire will be permanent, the President said. 'We have saved the lives of many, many Kurds,' Trump said. 'We've done something that is very, very special.' Trump said Turkey and Syria must keep the peace.  'It's their neighborhood. They need to take care of it,' Trump said. 'Let someone else fight over this long bloodstained sand.' The president said a small number of troops would remain in Syria to protect oil interests. Wednesday morning, Trump tweeted there was 'Big success on the Turkey/Syria border.' 'Safe Zone created! Ceasefire has held and combat missions have ended,' Trump tweeted. Turkey and Russia reached an agreement Tuesday, installing their forces along the border of northeast Syria after U.S. troops that were withdrawn from the area, The Associated Press reported. On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met in Sochi, Russia, and revealed a 10-point memorandum about Syria, CNN reported. According to the memorandum, Turkish military and Russian military police will patrol the border. The United States was not included in the negotiations.
  • A Missouri man recently fired from his job at Arby’s for allegedly setting fires returned Saturday to the restaurant, where police allege he mutilated and decapitated a cat in the men’s restroom. Tanner Maggard, 19, of Lee’s Summit, is charged with second-degree animal abuse and second-degree property damage, according to online Jackson County court records. The animal abuse charge, which involves abuse by torture and/or mutilation while the animal was alive, is a felony. >> Read more trending news  WDAF in Kansas City obtained the court documents, including police reports that allege Maggard went to Arby’s on Saturday and placed an order before going into the restroom. When he came out, the records show, he asked the manager, “Oh, I see you remodeled the bathroom, huh?” Maggard went back into the restroom a short time later and was still in there when the manager went in to clean it. The manager told police he could hear Maggard in a stall, coughing and gagging. The manager left the restroom, followed by Maggard a short time later. Maggard went outside, the court documents say, according to WDAF. When the manager returned to finish his cleaning, he found a mutilated and decapitated cat on the diaper changing table in the stall where Maggard had been, the news station reported. Blood covered the walls, door and toilet. The manager told officers he went outside, where he spotted Maggard sitting in his truck, waiting to see his former boss’ reaction to the scene he had left behind, the court documents allege. Maggard then drove away. The records show that responding officers who processed the scene in the restroom did not detect the odor of decomposition, which indicated that the cat was recently killed, WDAF reported. Maggard repeatedly denied knowledge of the cat’s demise when questioned by detectives, the news station said. The restaurant did not have security cameras in place.  The restaurant had to replace the changing table and toilet in the stall and repaint the walls, the documents say. Online court records show Maggard was booked into the Jackson County Jail with bail set at $10,000. Maggard appeared to have bonded out as of Wednesday, according to jail records. Maggard is not allowed within 1,000 feet of the Arby’s. He is also not allowed to have contact with domesticated animals, the records show.
  • We told you about the Kitty Beautiful Cat Cafe earlier this month, now they're looking to hire young adults on the Autism spectrum. This new Orlando cafe is looking to give Autistic adults a big step towards independence. Heather Strauss is a co-owner of the cafe and a mom to two Autistic kids.  “I want to help take care of other people’s kids, kind of like how I want to take care of my own.” Strauss told me about the Autistic employee she just hired. “His parents started to cry, same way I would’ve. It just means the world because as a parent of kids on the Autism spectrum you’re always fighting for your kid, you’re always fighting for opportunities.” Autism disorders specialist, Kimberly Snoeblen, describes what makes Autistic people such great assets to the workforce.  “They have great abilities. They will be the person that’s always on time. They will be the person that follows the rules to the nth degree.” The Kitty Beautiful Cat Cafe will be having its grand opening the weekend of November 1st. Until then, Strauss plans to set up more young Autistic adults for success.
  • The search goes on for the man who a woman said grabbed her while she was jogging along the Northlake Parkway Trail in Lake Nona. According to the Orlando Police Department, the woman was on a run around 6:30 a.m. Sept. 23, when a man came behind her and touched her buttocks and her shoulder.  Police released a composite sketch Wednesday. They said detectives worked with the woman to create it.  Investigators said the man is described as Hispanic and in his early 20s. He stands 5 feet, 8 inches and has black spiky hair.  Anyone with information regarding the case is asked to call Crimeline at 800-423-TIPS.  No other details were released.

Washington Insider

  • Denouncing the impeachment investigation of President Donald Trump undertaken by Democrats in the House, several dozen GOP lawmakers stormed into a secure hearing room in the bowels of the Capitol on Wednesday, demanding that the proceedings be made public, and delaying a scheduled deposition involving a Pentagon official for a little over five hours. 'We're going to go, and see if we can get inside,' said Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), as a group of several dozen Republicans pushed their way into the room, unhappy with how Democrats are handling this investigation. 'This is very unfair to the President,' said Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ). 'The American people deserve a public and open process,' said Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), as Republicans prevented three different committees from moving ahead with Wednesday's hearing. Those interrupting the proceedings included Republican lawmakers who are allowed into the secure hearing room - because they are on one of the three committees involved in these closed door depositions - Intelligence, Oversight, and Foreign Affairs. Democrats labeled the sit-in a political stunt that smacked of desperation. 'Trump wanted a foreign government to investigate his political opponent,' said Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH). 'That is a crime.' “Today's circus-like stunt will delay but it will not prevent our search for the truth about the president’s stunning misconduct,” said Rep. Val Demings (D-FL). 'GOP 'storming' a classified deposition was a ridiculous stunt,' said Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY). Democrats also criticized the GOP effort for violating rules on security, as a number of Republican lawmakers brought cell phones into the secure facility, which is prohibited.  It resulted in officials having to conduct a sweep of the rooms, to make sure no electronic devices had been left behind. 'You may wonder why is it happening now?” asked Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA).  “Because Bill Taylor gave a devastating opening statement yesterday. They're freaked out. They're trying to stop this investigation.” Taylor is the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine - he testified Tuesday before investigators, making the case that President Trump was withholding military aid for Ukraine in a bid to get the Ukraine government to publicly announce investigations which might help Mr. Trump's re-election bid. In a tweet on Wednesday afternoon, the President took direct aim at Taylor. Reports indicated the President may have been told by allies in the U.S. House of their Wednesday plans. “This looks awfully like obstruction,” said Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA). After ordering some pizza and refusing to leave the room known as a SCIF - Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility - GOP lawmakers moved on after about five hours, as Laura Cooper, a deputy assistant Secretary of Defense began her testimony around 3:15 pm.