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The Latest Local News

    One person was injured Friday morning in a shooting reported at Forest High School in Ocala, according to the the Marion County Sheriff's Office. >> READ MORE: 'National School Walkout’: Everything you need to know about Friday’s event | Florida school shooting: How difficult is it to purchase a gun in Florida? | What are the worst school shootings in modern US history? | How to talk to your child about traumatic events like school shooting | MORE
  • Some things are better left far, far away.  Unfortunately, TV host Ellen DeGeneres had to learn that the hard way.  After months of searching, the staff of the Ellen DeGeneres show were able to track down Ellen’s life-like robot from the Epcot attraction, Ellen’s Energy Adventure, which closed last year at Disney World in Orlando. They had the robot delivered to the show for Ellen to open on-air.  But what was inside that birthday box is what nightmares are made of.  'This is not real,” said DeGeneres on her show. “This is the robot they used for Ellen’s Energy Adventure? … That is so offensive.' The audience could not control their laughter as DeGeneres poked fun at the unsightly Ellen-bot...which sort of looked like Doc Brown from ‘Back to the Future.’ “That is horrible. This looks like Annabelle’s mother. We really could start a horror movie...starring this.” The robot is expected to fetch up to $5,000 when it goes up for auction next month in Los Angeles.  (VIDEO)
  • You may not realize it, but Friday is a holiday, of sorts.On April 20 – or 4/20 – marijuana advocates around the world gather to celebrate, in a variety of ways, the cannabis plant. Last year, thousands gathered in cities across the United States to consume marijuana in places where it is legal to do so, as well as places where it isn’t. If you are not familiar with the term “420” as it is used in the marijuana culture, here’s a look at its origins and its meaning. 1. The term “420” was first associated with marijuana use in 1971. 2. It was the time of day when a group of California high school students who called themselves the “Waldos” decided to meet to hunt for a rumored abandoned stash of cannabis. The students would meet at 4:20 p.m. near a statue of Louis Pasteur on the grounds of San Rafael High School to go to search for the crop. If one of the Waldos called for a “4:20 Louis” it meant that everyone was to meet at the statue to search for the marijuana. 3. Eventually, “4:20 Louis” became just “4:20,” and the number was recognized not as a call to hunt for the abandoned cannabis, but as a code word for smoking pot. 4. The members of the band the Grateful Dead moved to the San Rafael area from San Francisco in 1970. They had connections to some of the parents of the Waldos, and eventually picked up the phrase and began using it. 5. The term spread past San Rafael with the help of the Grateful Dead and after a story about the Waldos appeared in “High Times.” Another story in the magazine suggested that 4:20 was an “accepted” hour to use cannabis. 6. April 20 is observed around the country and around the world as a time to gather together to smoke pot. In places where it is illegal to sell it, it is often given away on that day. 7. Some believe that the number 420 refers to the anniversary of the deaths of Bob Marley or Jimi Hendrix. It does not. Neither died on April 20. 8. It is not a police code for someone smoking marijuana, either. 9. Snapchat may allow users to display a 420 graphic on Friday. 10. Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked ice cream and Sour Patch Kids candy were the top two requested “munchies” delivered by goPuff in 2016. The on-demand delivery company saw an 80 percent increase in orders for food such as chips, cookies, candy and beef jerky on April 20, 2016, according to company officials. 
  • At least three passengers who were aboard Southwest Airlines Flight 1380 received a $5,000 check in a letter from the airline, CNN reported Friday.   One passenger, 43-year-old Jennifer Riordan of Albuquerque, New Mexico, died after debris from the plane’s engine blew out a window. The plane was forced to make an emergency landing in Philadelphia on Tuesday, where Riordan died at a hospital.    In a letter to passengers, Southwest expressed 'sincere apologies' for the incident and included the check, Kamau Siwatu, who was aboard the flight, told CNN.    'We value you as our customer and hope you will allow us another opportunity to restore your confidence in Southwest as the airline you can count on for your travel needs,' Siwatu's letter said. 'In this spirit, we are sending you a check in the amount of $5,000 to cover any of your immediate financial needs.'   The letter also promised passengers a $1,000 travel voucher, CNN reported.
  • A man fired through the window of a restaurant and fatally shot two Florida deputies, authorities said.   Gilchrist County Sheriff Bobby Schultz said during a news conference that Sgt. Noel Ramirez, 30, and Deputy Taylor Lindsey, 25, were killed Thursday afternoon in Trenton.   Schultz said the deputies were getting food at the Ace China restaurant when the shooter walked up to the building and fired at them through a window. Fellow deputies responding to the scene found the shooter dead outside the business.   Schultz said he had nothing to say about the 'coward' gunman, who he believes acted alone. He also could not say how the gunman died.   “The world is full of cowards and the world is full of heroes. We need to highlight those heroes and what they gave,” Schultz said.    The Florida Department of Law Enforcement later identified the shooter as John Highnote, 59, of Bell.   No other details were released about the gunman and a motive remains unclear.   Schultz described the deputies as, 'the best of the best.'    'They gave their lives so that we could all be safe,' Schultz said. “After 26 years of doing this, nothing can prepare you for senseless deaths.”    Ramirez leaves behind a wife and children. He had been a law enforcement officer for seven years.    Lindsey had worked for the sheriff’s office previously and had just returned to the force.    “I knew both of them personally and I can sit here in front of you all and tell you that I loved them,” said Schultz.    As law enforcement remained at the scene throughout the night to investigate and collect evidence, two deputies in their dress uniforms stood guard holding two folded American flags.    The investigation has been handed to the FDLE.    Trenton is in northern Florida, about 35 miles west of Gainesville.
  • U.S. marshals caught the woman dubbed “Losing Streak Lois” in Texas near the U.S.-Mexico border on Thursday after a multi-state crime spree, authorities said Thursday. >> Read more trending news Lois Riess, 56, was alone when she was captured in a restaurant on South Padre Island around 8:30 p.m. local time, the Lee County Sheriff's Office told CNN. Reiss was wanted in connection in two murders, including the murder of her husband in Minnesota. 'I promised all along that Lois Riess would end up in a pair of handcuffs,' Lee County Undersheriff Carmine Marceno said in a statement. 'Tonight, she sits in a jail cell in Texas. We are working as expeditiously as possible to bring her back to Lee County to face murder charges.' Riess was last seen April 8 in the area of Corpus Christi, Texas, following what is believed to be a multistate homicide case. She was sought on murder and theft charges in the slaying of Pamela Hutchinson, of Bradenton, Florida, who was found shot to death April 9 in a condominium in which she was staying in Fort Myers Beach, Florida.  Riess, who got her nickname from Minnesota law enforcement officers  for her penchant for gambling, is also a person of interest in the killing of her husband, David Riess, who was found shot to death March 23 on the couple’s worm farm in Blooming Prairie.  In each shooting, the victim had been dead for several days when the body was found. Authorities also believe Lois Riess used the same weapon in both cases.  >> Related story: Minnesota grandma sought in deaths of husband, Florida ‘lookalike’ killed for ID The U.S. Marshals Service on Tuesday had updated the search for Riess to major status and announced a $5,000 reward for her capture. Another $1,000 in reward money was made available by Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers.   Florida investigators said Riess killed Hutchinson, 59, for her identity. The women, who were strangers before Riess befriended Hutchinson, bore a striking resemblance to one another.  Surveillance footage from the Smokin’ Oyster Brewery, located two blocks from Hutchinson’s condo at the Marina Village at Snug Harbor, shows Riess smiling and chatting with a blonde woman in a hat who Lee County Sheriff’s Office detectives have identified as Hutchinson.  Hutchinson’s cousin on Monday posted an image from the surveillance footage to Facebook, side by side with an undated image of Hutchinson wearing that same hat as in the footage.  Officials with the U.S. Marshals Service said investigators believe Hutchinson was killed on or around April 5, when the surveillance footage at the bar was shot.  Lee County officials also on Tuesday released several snippets of surveillance video, including one piece that shows Riess, wearing the same blue shirt seen in the bar video, calmly walking away from Marina Village toward the parking lot. She is seen on another video driving away in Hutchinson’s white 2005 Acura TL. Hutchinson’s keys, identification, cash and credit cards were also missing when her body was found. The News-Press in Fort Myers reported Tuesday that sometime after Hutchinson’s death, Riess went to a Wells Fargo branch there and used Hutchinson’s identification to withdraw $5,000 from the slain woman’s account.  See the original footage of Riess chatting with Pamela Hutchinson, obtained by the News-Press, below.  Riess was next spotted in Ocala, about 215 miles north of Fort Myers, where more surveillance footage released Tuesday shows her driving up to a Hilton hotel in Hutchinson’s stolen car and checking in as a guest. Again, she is wearing the blue top seen in previous videos, as well as a light-colored fedora-style hat with a black band. Lee County Sheriff’s Office officials told the News-Press that Riess stayed in the hotel the nights of April 6 and 7.   Riess used Hutchinson’s identity to check into the hotel around 8 p.m. on April 6. She also used the victim’s identification to withdraw another $500 from Hutchinson’s bank account at an Ocala bank.   “She’s confident, doesn’t look over her shoulder, like she’s not hiding anything,” Kinsey told the Star Tribune of Riess’ demeanor in the videos. “She was very nonchalant.” >> Related story: New footage released of ‘killer grandma’ suspected in 2 homicides; $6,000 reward offered for capture The fugitive was next spotted in the stolen Acura in Louisiana, where an attempt to get $200 at a gas station failed, the News-Press said.  Kinsey said Riess was also spotted on surveillance images April 7 and 8 in casinos in Louisiana.  “She went from casino to casino to make money, or because she is addicted to it,” Kinsey said. “She is consumed by it.” The final definite sighting of Riess was the following day, April 8 in Refugio, Texas, about 40 miles north of Corpus Christi. Corpus Christi is about 150 miles from the Mexico border.  The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which has been searching for Riess since late last month, described her as a white woman with brown eyes and pale blonde hair. She is about 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighs about 165 pounds.  Riess has been on the run since mid-March, when she is suspected of gunning down her husband, David Riess, on their rural worm farm before stealing $11,000 from his personal and business accounts. Deputies with the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office found him after his business partner reported that he had not been seen or heard from in several weeks.   Lois Riess was nowhere to be found, but investigators learned she visited a casino in Iowa on her way out of the Midwest, investigators said. She is charged with grand theft in connection with her husband’s slaying.  Dodge County investigators are also anticipated to file murder charges against her sometime this week.  Riess was initially linked to Hutchinson’s slaying, in part, because her family’s white Cadillac Escalade, which she was believed to be driving after her husband’s murder, was found abandoned in a county park in Fort Myers Beach, the News-Press reported.  Court records in Minnesota also show that Riess, who was named guardian of her disabled sister in 2012, stole more than $78,000 from her before being caught three years later.  Lee County Undersheriff Carmine Marceno described Riess to NBC News earlier this week as a “stone-cold killer” who authorities fear might kill again when she runs out of resources.  “She smiles and looks like anyone’s mother or grandmother,” Marceno said. “And yet she’s calculated, she’s targeted and an absolute cold-blooded killer.”
  • One half of a father-son duo is still on the run after Volusia County deputies say they broke into a car and racked up over $5,000 using stolen bank cards. Anthony  Medina, 19 and William Clark, 44, the one with the tattooed eyelids, are facing several charges including fraudulent use of person ID and fraudulent use of a credit card. Deputies say the two broke into a parked car at the DeBary Public Library on April 10 and made off with the victim’s bank cards and driver’s license. When the owner realized what happened, he checked his card activity and discovered $5,361 in charges.  The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office sent this press release with details:  Det. Cameron Tucker started tracing those steps, traveling to a Chevron, a Racetrac, a Sunoco, a Walmart, AAA Gun & Pawn, Value Pawn & Jewelry, Cash America, and another Chevron. The purchases included cartons of cigarettes, a DVD player, a laptop and gold chain necklaces.  One employee told Det. Tucker she remembered the transaction, and when the customer took off his sunglasses in the store, she noticed his eyelid tattoos.  Det. Tucker dusted a glass case and mirror at one of the pawn shops for fingerprints, and he obtained video from all the stores on the suspects’ shopping list. After compiling footage of the suspect vehicle and the list of all the stores they visited to make purchases that day, Det. Tucker contacted the Volusia County Crime Center for a search of the License Plate Reader system. Analysts at the Crime Center identified a 2004 Cadillac with Florida tag 614-8UR that had a unique sticker and antenna matching the suspect vehicle’s. Medina was arrested on Monday and was released on $10,000 bail. Clark is still at large. 
  • A suspect hiding from Pasco County deputies in a swamp after a high-speed chase was arrested covered in slobbery kisses instead of a bite from their K9.  The Hernando County Sheriff’s Office sent out an alert to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office after they say Paul Daniel Smith, 34, resisted arrest and battered a deputy. He took off in a Ford F150.  Deputy Marc Lane spotted the vehicle on US 41 and went after him.  Smith eventually stopped and ran into a heavily wooded, swampy area. With the help of their K9 bloodhound Knox, deputies tracked Smith down through the swamp, finding him stuck in thick mud with water up to his neck. “Stop resisting,” the deputies can be heard saying in the video posted to Facebook. (Facebook) As they try to get Smith out of the mud, instead of biting, Knox covers his face in wet, doggy kisses. Knox’s specialty is finding people, from missing children to wanted men. Smith is facing several charges including aggravated assault and violation of probation. As for Knox, he’s been rewarded for a job well done with his favorite treat: cheese.
  • Have you seen this guy? Orlando police need your help in identifying the man who is suspected of attacking an elderly gentleman in the parking lot of the Lake Fredrica Shopping Center on Semoran Boulevard and Lake Margaret Drive. Witnesses say the suspect, a man in his 20s, stood in front of the car of the victim and blocked him from being able to drive away. When the elderly victim got out to confront him, the suspect punched him once, knocking the victim out cold. 'One punch that was all it took,” witness Jennifer Pola tells WKMG. “He hit him dead in the temple, boom. He was out for at least two minutes.' (tweet) When police arrived, they found the victim, a man in his 60s, on the ground and bleeding.  Pola says the attack was completely unprovoked.  Several witnesses went after the suspect but he got in a vehicle and drove away. They managed to snap a clear photo of him before he took off. Anyone with information is asked to call Orlando police or Crimeline at 1-800-423-TIPS.
  • Orlando police need your help locating a girl who went missing more than three weeks ago. Avery Johnson, 15, disappeared on March 26.  Detectives are now asking anyone with information on Johnson’s whereabouts to come forward. Johnson is 5’4” and weighs around 145 lbs.  She has brown hair and blue eyes.  Investigators haven’t said where they believe she is or who she may be with. If you know where Johnson is, you’re urged to call 911.

The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • A Louisiana woman with a history of identity theft faces 10 years in prison after she was convicted Wednesday of stealing another woman’s background to land an executive position with a six-figure salary. Cindy T. White, 41, of Slidell, was found guilty of identity theft over $1,000, according to a news release from the office of 22nd Judicial District Attorney Warren Montgomery. It took jurors just 15 minutes to find White guilty of the charges.  Montgomery said in the news release that White used information stolen from another woman’s LinkedIn profile to beef up her resume in September 2015, when she applied for an executive-level position with Diversified Foods & Seasonings. NOLA.com reported that the company, based in Covington, was founded by the late entrepreneur Al Copeland. White also used the other woman’s Social Security number and driver’s license number when applying for the job, the news release said.  She was initially hired as a human resources manager, a position with a $95,000 annual salary, Montgomery said. Five months later, she was promoted to senior human resources director, a job with a $105,000 salary.  >> Read more trending news Company officials became suspicious a few months later when they noticed that White had trouble with duties that she should have been able to perform based on her alleged educational background. Her resume listed a bachelor’s degree from Tulane University and a master’s degree from Hebrew University in Jerusalem. “That’s not this person,” prosecutor Casey Dieck said in court, pointing at White. “This person stole the victim’s hard work and used it to get a six-figure salary and benefits to boot.” Officials at Diversified Foods & Seasonings also noticed that White delegated a large number of tasks assigned to her, Montgomery said in the news release. They took a closer look at her personnel file and found discrepancies in it.  Company officials called the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office in April 2016.  Investigators determined that White lifted her educational background directly from the LinkedIn profile of a woman with a similar name, Montgomery said. They also discovered that she obtained the woman’s driver’s license and Social Security numbers from an unnamed online site.  A look at White’s real background revealed that this was not the first time she had stolen someone’s identity, the news release said.  White, a former Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office employee, was arrested in New Orleans in 1997 on suspicion of theft, forgery and malfeasance in office after she was accused of stealing a co-worker’s identity and emptying the woman’s bank account. She was caught when she was spotted in surveillance photos and identified, the news release said. She pleaded guilty that September to two counts of forgery and received probation.  Her probation was terminated in 1999 when the court was sent information that White had died, Montgomery said.  White also had a 1998 conviction in Jefferson Parish for attempted theft of goods.  Prosecutors argued that White, who admitted to St. Tammany Parish investigators that she used the victim’s identity to get the job, fraudulently collected $56,209 during the seven months she worked at Diversified Foods & Seasonings. Her defense attorney argued that she earned the salary she received.  Dieck denied the defense claim, Montgomery said in the news release.  “We have here a defendant who admits to stealing to cover up the fact that she’s a convicted thief,” the prosecutor said. 
  • A Pennsylvania teacher was suspended last week after he cooked breakfast for his students as they took state assessments. LancasterOnline reported that Kyle Byler, an eighth-grade teacher at Hand Middle School, was suspended without pay and warned that he would be fired for “causing a distraction” while his students took the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment, or PSSAs.  Byler told local media that he brought an electric griddle to school the morning of April 10 and cooked each of his students a whole-grain pancake to eat while they took their exams. An assistant principal walked in and questioned why he was making the children breakfast. >> Read more trending news The teacher, who many parents consider the “eighth-grade dad” at the school, was called into a meeting with administrators within 24 hours and told he would be fired, LancasterOnline reported.  Byler said in an interview Monday that he did not understand what he did wrong. The state education department does not have a rule against serving food during the PSSAs. Pennsylvania Department of Education spokeswoman Nicole Reigelman told LancasterOnline, however, that “those activities would likely interfere with ‘actively monitoring’ the assessment, which is a key task.” Byler said the pancakes did not deter the students.  “At no point was it any distraction for any of the students,” Byler said. “They worked their butts off.” A student told the news site that the assistant principal was the only distraction. “The moment she walked in, everybody turned,” Alizea Rodriguez told LancasterOnline. “She was the distraction. Not pancakes. Not Byler.” Rodriguez and other students were distraught when Byler was not in class the next day. Many of those students showed up at a Tuesday night school board meeting, at which Byler expected to learn his fate.  School district officials dismissed the claim that he was to be fired Tuesday, saying that there was never a dismissal action on the meeting agenda and that a teacher cannot be fired without the board approving a written notice setting a hearing in the matter. None of that had taken place. “Nor will it occur in this situation, as the personnel matter has been resolved with the employee, who is scheduled to return to work,” School District of Lancaster officials said in a statement.  The district statement said that free breakfast and lunch are offered to all students every day, including testing days.  “Moreover, the Pennsylvania Department of Education strictly requires that teachers who proctor PSSA testing focus their full attention on monitoring students during the test,” the statement read. “All teachers serving as PSSA test proctors receive specific training on testing protocol. Had permission been sought by a teacher to cook in the classroom during PSSA testing and serve food to the students, the response would have been that such activities would distract the teacher from the required duties as a test proctor.” LancasterOnline reported that about 100 concerned residents, including both parents and teachers, turned out at Tuesday’s board meeting to support Byler.  “It takes a village to raise children,” mother of two Crystle Martinez said. “He’s part of that village.” Students and teachers were not Byler’s only fans. Officials at Holiday Inn Express sought to gift him and his students a one-touch pancake machine -- like those on the breakfast bars in Holiday Inn Express hotels -- and enough pancake batter to get them through the remainder of the school year.  “As a hotel brand that knows how important an energizing breakfast is to being ‘THE READIEST’ for the day ahead, Holiday Inn Express salutes Byler for taking the initiative and making pancakes for his students,” said Lauren Schuster, manager of PR firm Weber Shandwick.  “The brand welcomes this teacher back to school, and hopes he and his students enjoy their very own one-touch pancake machine as much as Holiday Inn Express guests do,” read a statement from the company.  It was not clear if the school district would allow Byler to put the pancake machine in his classroom. 
  • Swedish DJ Avicii was found dead Friday in Oman, his publicist confirmed. He was 28. >> Read more trending news
  • The Democratic National Committee filed a wide-ranging, multimillion-dollar lawsuit Friday against the Russian government, President Donald Trump’s campaign officials and WikiLeaks, alleging the group conspired to meddle in the 2016 presidential election in favor of Donald Trump over Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton. >> Read more trending news The 66-page lawsuit, filed in the Southern District of New York, alleges that members of Trump’s inner circle, including his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and son-in-law Jared Kushner, conspired with Russian government officials and the country’s intelligence service to sway the election for Trump. >> Read the lawsuit “During the 2016 presidential campaign, Russia launched an all-out assault on our democracy, and it found a willing and active partner in Donald Trump’s campaign,” DNC Chairman Tom Perez said in a statement released to The Washington Post. “This constituted an act of unprecedented treachery: the campaign of a nominee for President of the United States in league with a hostile foreign power to bolster its own chance to win the presidency.” The president was not named in the suit, in which Democrats said, 'Russia mounted a brazen attack on American Democracy' with a cyberattack on the Democratic National Committee’s servers.  >> Related: WikiLeaks emails: FBI investigates, Podesta claims he was targeted by Russian hackers 'In 2015 and 2016, Russian intelligence services hacked into the DNC's computers, penetrated its phone systems and exfiltrated tens of thousands of documents and emails,' according to the lawsuit.  'Russia then used this stolen information to advance its own interests: destabilizing the U.S. political environment, denigrating the Democratic presidential nominee and supporting the campaign of Donald J. Trump, whose policies would benefit the Kremlin. In the Trump campaign, Russia found a willing and active partner in this effort.' Democrats said the stolen data was shared with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who released thousands of emails last year that were allegedly taken in a hack of the DNC's servers. The lawsuit alleged Assange shared the emails because he “shared the defendants’ common goal of damaging the Democratic party in advance of the election.” >> Related: Julian Assange: WikiLeaks source was 'not the Russian government' Assange said in late 2016 that his source for the DNC emails “was not the Russian government.” The Kremlin has denied any involvement in the hack. Democrats did not mention in their lawsuit that FBI officials warned the DNC that it was being hacked or that officials at DNC headquarters in Washington ignored the warning for weeks, Cox Media Group’s Jamie Dupree reported. >> From Jamie Dupree: Democratic Party sues Trump campaign, WikiLeaks, Russia, others over 2016 elections The suit seeks millions of dollars in damages, as Democrats said the hacks hindered the party’s ability to communicate with voters or effectively operate, according to the Post. Officials, including special counsel Robert Mueller, continue to investigate whether people who worked on Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign worked with Russian government officials to sway the election. Trump has repeatedly denied collusion allegations. The Kremlin has denied that officials meddled in the election.
  • One person was injured Friday morning in a shooting reported at Forest High School in Ocala, according to the the Marion County Sheriff's Office. >> READ MORE: 'National School Walkout’: Everything you need to know about Friday’s event | Florida school shooting: How difficult is it to purchase a gun in Florida? | What are the worst school shootings in modern US history? | How to talk to your child about traumatic events like school shooting | MORE