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Latest from Daniel Vargas

    It's Star Wars movie season once again, and the latest installment in the series has finally finished filming. Director J.J. Abrams made the announcement on Twitter saying: ' It feels impossible, but today(Friday) wrapped photography on Episode IX. There is no adequate way to thank this truly magical crew and cast. I'm forever indebted to you all.'  To celebrate the occasion, he posted a picture of stars Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Oscar Isaac embracing each other on the final day of filming.  Now that the filming is out of the way, the fun part is getting everything else done before the December 20th deadline, when it is released in theaters. So far there has been no official title, trailer, or teaser of any kind, but of course, we can expect that to come out as we get closer.
  • Although Chinese New Year is not a typical thing you see celebrated here in Florida, that's not stopping the city of Orlando from joining in the celebration of the Year of the Pig. 2019, which according to the Chinese Zodiac is the Year of the Pig, marks the 8th annual Central Florida Dragon Parade and Lunar New Year Festival held in Orlando.  This year's parade takes place at 728 North Thornton Avenue. It will start at 11 am the corner of Lake Highland Drive and North Mills Avenue and will end at North Thornton Avenue and East Colonial Drive. The parade comes ahead of the festival, which is led by City of Orlando and Orange County leaders, teaming up with representatives of numerous Asian organizations.  Following the parade will be four hours of the Lunar Festival, which will feature good wholesome entertainment such as dragon dancing, martial arts, taiko drummers, arts and crafts, and of course, food glorious food! This holiday is also used an occasion for celebrating families to reunite and honor their ancestors. Families partaking may even do a 'spring' cleaning to their house to get rid of any bad fortune. If you are new to the experience, here is a preview of last year’s parade:
  • Police in Orange County are investigating a stabbing that took place at a gas station Sunday morning.  They around at 2:11 a.m., they found an unresponsive 45 year old man at the 7-11 on South Orange Blossom Trail near 39th Street with stab wounds to his chest. The victim was taken to ORMC where he later died.  Police say a 53 year old man, who has been deemed a person of interest in this case, has been detained. However, that person is not being labeled as a suspect.  This is an active investigation.
  • The Orlando International Airport has tweeted that it is investigating an incident that occurred at the checkpoint for gates 1-59 Saturday afternoon.  At around 12:12 pm, they say the incident paused security screening for a time and that they are working to get the screening process back on track. We are told that the line has stretched past the corridor into the food court and the wait time to get through security has reached up to 70 minutes. A spokesperson said someone tried to breach through that security area, and we are told they have been detained and the person is in custody. Orlando police have confirmed that the reports of an active shooter or person with a gun are false. They say that the while they were attempting to arrest the suspect, he reached into his pocket. People at the screening area yelled that he had a gun, which caused panic in the area. The suspect, that police have identified as Ryan Mills, has been taken in for a mental health evaluation under the state’s baker act. Police say Mills faces several charges.
  • Another major retailer we all know is biting the dust once again. Payless ShoeSource has officially announced that it will close all the remaining 2,100 stores located in the United States and Puerto Rico. The liquidation sales will begin on Sunday, February 17th and you will begin to see the stores go one by one starting in March, but some plan to last until May.  Payless reportedly filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy back in April 2017, and despite the liquidation, the company says it will not affect its franchise operations or its Latin American stores, which are still running normally.  Payless has also said that it plans to shut down its online store.
  • If you've ever been on the Star Tours ride at Disney's Hollywood Studios, then you are more than familiar with what you encounter as you go through the queue line. Well, C-3PO, who you may remember is always checking with R2-D2 as he performs routine maintenance and systems checks on one of the tour star-speeders is due for droid maintenance, and will be removed on February 17th.  No worries though. It is only temporary and you can still catch the loveable character as you make your way onboard the ride.  There is no official word on when he will be back in his proper place, or if anything will be taking over his post while he is away.
  • Police in Orlando are asking for your help in finding a person wanted for robbing a bank Saturday afternoon. They say at noon, police responded to the Orlando Federal Credit Union on 4500 South John Young Parkway in reference to a bank robbery.    The suspect reportedly passed a note to the teller asking for money and then fled the scene in a white Ford Fusion, 2013 model or possibly newer, with a paper tag. They say he is the same person that robbed the same place early last month.  If you or anyone you know has any idea where there person is, you are asked to call Crimeline at 800-423-TIPS.
  • Its only been less than two months, according to the Orlando Fire Department, and another Fire Truck has been struck in an accident Sunday morning.   They say it happened around 2:40 am on I-4 near Orange Blossom Trail. The Engine E-5 crew was hit at a high rate speed by a car, and four of its members were sent to the hospital for evaluation.  The driver of the car that struck the engine was pulled from the vehicle, and both people from the car were also taken to the hospital.  The Orlando Fire Department has tweeted #Move Over, reminding everyone that it is required by law to steer out of the way when a firefighter is heading towards you.
  • Osceola County deputies are investigating what they call a suspicious death after finding a body at a motel along Highway 1-92 Saturday afternoon.  Around noon, deputies arrived at the Star Motel near Kissimmee Vineland Road. After discovering the body, they blocked off a stretch of the second floor balcony with crime scene tape.  The death has been deemed suspicious, but the circumstances that may have led up to the person's death have not been released. The identity of the victim has also not been released.  Police say that this is an isolated incident.
  • The Orange County Sheriff's Office says its homicide unit is investigating a double shooting that took place Friday evening.  At 11:50 p.m., they say they responded to 505 South Ocean Avenue in Apopka in reference to a shooting. Once there they found two men in their 20s who suffered gunshot wounds.  One of the men died at the scene, now identified as 23 year old Alec Emilio Hammers(pictured above), while the other was taken to the hospital in serious condition. Police are asking that anyone who has any information about this case to call Crimeline at 800-423-TIPS. No other information is available at this time.
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The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • A loaded gun was brought inside a Pittsburgh elementary school Monday, officials said. >> Watch the news report here WPXI-TV reports that the weapon wasn't found until after school, when another student told a bus driver that someone had a gun. Children are not required to go through the metal detectors at Pittsburgh Faison Elementary School in Homewood, but a district spokesperson told WPXI that there are going to be changes in security measures starting Tuesday morning. >> Read more trending news  The kindergarten student had the loaded gun, with the safety on, in his backpack, inside his locker. Officials told WPXI that parents got a notice from the district's phone system. WPXI is working to find out if the child's parents will be charged.
  • Razor blades have been found under the handles of shopping carts at a Walmart store in North Carolina, police said. >> Watch the news report here The blades were found at the store in Siler City, about 35 miles south of Greensboro, WSOC-TV reported. Two people reportedly have been hurt. Siler City police are seeking two people of interest, both described as white men in their 30s. Police said the men were seen in a tan Chevrolet Suburban or GMC SUV. >> Read the full descriptions here >> See the surveillance photos here – The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.
  • A skyride malfunctioned Monday night at SeaWorld San Diego, initially stranding nine adults and seven children – including an infant. Here are the latest updates: Update 11:26 p.m. PST: Rescue workers have saved all 16 people who were trapped on the Bayside Skyride at SeaWorld San Diego, the San Diego Fire Department tweeted late Monday. >> See the tweet here Original story: A rescue is underway at SeaWorld San Diego after a skyride malfunctioned Monday night, initially stranding nine adults and seven children – including an infant. >> See a photo from the scene here >> Read more trending news  As of 10:30 p.m. PST, crews had rescued 14 people from the Bayside Skyride, which stalled when heavy winds 'tripped a circuit breaker' more than three hours earlier, KSWB reported. Two people were still trapped on the ride's gondolas, the San Diego Fire Department said. >> See the tweet here KSWB said some of the gondolas were over Mission Bay when the ride stopped working. Those trapped were 'lowered by harnesses & rescued by [San Diego Lifeguards] boats,' the Fire Department tweeted. Read more here.
  • A University of Central Florida employee suffered burns Monday after a chemical reaction, according to Orange County Fire Rescue officials. Firefighters were called to 3512 Perseus Loop Lane near the Facilities Operations building on UCF's campus around 3 p.m.  The 29-year-old who was the only person in the building at the time, and was transporting the chemicals when a static discharge sparked a fire.  He was taken to Orlando Regional Medical Center with burns to his face, arms and chest according to responding firefighters.  A university spokeswoman said the incident happened in a building on campus that is designed to handle chemicals and no students were involved in the incident or ever in any danger.  The worker's name was not released. Mike Jachles with OCFR said he was conscious and alert when he was taken to Orlando Regional Medical Center.
  • Four days after the announcement of a series of executive actions to fund his signature border wall, President Donald Trump’s administration still needs to fill in the details on his plans to shift over $6.6 billion from the Pentagon and Treasury Department into funding border security, as members of Congress continue to wonder if the move will dig into their local military base construction projects. On Capitol Hill, lawmakers and their staffs were awaiting guidance on where the Pentagon would look for money in the $3.6 billion sought by the President in his emergency declaration from military construction projects, which was already the subject of new lawsuits. “Congress has not enacted any emergency legislation even remotely related to border wall construction, and thus the President’s reallocation of funds is unlawful,” read a suit filed against the President and Pentagon by several environmental groups. In a letter to the Acting Secretary of Defense, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) asked for a breakdown of which projects would be put on hold – as under the ‘national emergency’ law used by the President, the Pentagon would make those decisions – not the Congress. Congress approved $10.3 billion for military construction in Fiscal Year 2019 – the $3.6 billion sought by the President would be more than one-third of that amount – which has drawn expressions of concern from lawmakers. As Kaine noted in his letter, the move to shift money from military construction comes at a time when the Pentagon already was having to deal with hurricane damage at two major domestic bases – Camp Lejeune for the Marines in North Carolina, and Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida. Tyndall was seriously damaged by Hurricane Michael in 2018 – and despite support for rebuilding the base, Congress has not yet acted on extra money for the Pentagon – or on broader hurricane relief for those hit in Florida and Georgia. During the partial government shutdown, Democrats in the House approved a bill which had $12.1 billion in disaster aid, both for hurricanes and wildfires – but that bill does not seem to be on the agenda in the U.S. Senate at this point. @DrNealDunnFL2 Dr Dunn, we are hearing here in the Panhandle that Trump is going after Tyndall rebuilding money for his wall. Please don’t let this happen! No Tyndall would be catastrophic to our area. Please help! — Billy Shears (@BillyShears9) February 14, 2019 The Commandant of the Marine Corps said over the weekend that he needs $3.5 billion just for repairs at Camp LeJeune from damage caused by Hurricane Florence in September of 2018 – which is equal to the figure of how much in military construction the President wants to shift into a border wall. Earlier this month, Air Force officials said they planned to spend $3 billion to rebuild Tyndall, which was flattened by Hurricane Michael in October of last year. House Democrats say they plan to hold a hearing as soon as next week to get a better idea on what military construction projects the Pentagon wants to scrap – in order to move money to the wall. Also still unclear is the legal underpinnings for two other moves announced last week by the White House, where the President would move money from a Treasury Department drug forfeiture fund, as well as money from a Pentagon anti-drug account – into a border wall.