Florida man charged with attacking minion on boardwalk

A man has been charged with attacking a person dressed as a minion cartoon character along a popular Florida boardwalk.

Police said Jamie Roehm was costumed as a yellow, cylindrical minion and working outside Jungle George’s on Daytona Beach’s boardwalk Sunday evening when a man started messing with him.

According to the police report, Roehm said the man slammed him onto the pavement and kicked him when he tried to get back up.

Police said witnesses cheered on Ryan Nihart, 25, during the alleged attack. The store owner and others helped detain Nihart until police arrived. He was charged with battery and criminal mischief.

The Palm Beach Post reports Roehm declined medical treatment, saying he was mostly bruised. The store owner told police the $300 minion suit was destroyed.

Follow this story

Martin County residents worry about toxic algae blooms

People are often lured to Martin County by the availability of affordable land and because of the water that surrounds most of it, but the toxic algae blooms spilling into area communities from Lake Okeechobee mean that draw is all but gone.

Because there hasn’t been a release from Lake Okeechobee since the end of June, much of the algae has cleared out of the waterways. But some of it remains, and some Floridians are worried about what may happen when those releases resume.

Jennie Pawlowsky has lived in Stuart for 13 years.

She and her husband moved there in part because of all of the water surrounding the area, and she even started teaching paddle board yoga.

But a few years back, she had to shut down her business and no longer goes into the rivers because of the water conditions.

“People that are here — we are river people. We live in the water. Well, we used to,” Pawlowsky said. 

The problem is that there is a large concentration of cyanobacteria in Lake Okeechobee, better known as blue-green algae, which can be toxic.

In fact, a satellite image from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows that 90 percent of the lake has some concentration of the algae.

Meanwhile, in their efforts to keep water from overflowing into communities surrounding the lake, the Army Corps of Engineers has been releasing water into the Caloosahatchee River and the St. Lucie River, sending those algae blooms into eastern communities like Stuart and as far west as Cape Coral.

“And now it’s getting to the point where we’re fighting for our lives because this stuff is toxic,” Pawlowsky said. 

Steps have been taken to temporarily clean up the water, but some worry it may be too little, too late.

“My husband and I are seriously thinking about moving in a year before it gets any worse,” Pawlowsky said.

Gov. Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency for the communities affected by the algae blooms, which allows them to store more water south of Lake Okeechobee, preventing a spillover and preventing any more of the releases.

This also gives them a little more time to figure out how to prevent the algae blooms and find a long-term solution.

Follow this story

Shark bites University of Miami student in Bahamas

University of Miami student Katarina Elle Zarutskie was relaxing in the Bahamas’ turquoise waters at Staniel Cay when seemingly-docile sharks surrounded her. 

“It seemed safe. And i had seen all these photos, so I totally thought it was okay,” Zarutskie said

Her boyfriend, Tom Bates, was taking pictures. They didn’t consider the nurse sharks a threat until one of them bit her and pulled her underwater.  

“Next thing I knew I was underwater and adrenaline just kicks in,” she said

The 19-year-old model grew up surfing in Southern California, so she remained calm.  

As soon as Zarutskie freed herself from the 5-foot shark, she raised her bleeding arm and walked over the other sharks and out of the water. She said doctors told her she still has pieces of shark teeth in her arm.

Despite a scar that could get in the way of her modeling, the nursing student said she feels lucky. She was surrounded by sharks and only one attacked. She said she later learned that the risk of infection meant she could have lost her arm or her life.

“Sharks are wonderful creatures and beautiful but you really  need to respect them in their home and maybe not lean back,” Zarutskie said with a laugh.

Follow this story

Worker dies in ‘industrial accident’ at Walt Disney World

Authorities say they’re investigating the death of a worker at Walt Disney World Resort.

An Orange County Sheriff’s Office news release says deputies found an unconscious and unresponsive man Monday morning after responding to a 911 call near Disney’s Pop Century Resort. Reedy Creek Fire Department pronounced him dead at the scene.

The sheriff’s office is calling the death an industrial accident, but no details were immediately released about what the man had been doing or what killed him.

Park president George Kalogridis said in a statement that park officials are working with authorities to determine what happened. The victim’s name and specific job weren’t immediately reported.

Follow this story

Florida man kills himself after day-long standoff with deputies

A Florida man killed himself Sunday more than 24 hours after he barricaded himself inside a Lakeland home with his 6-year-old year daughter, authorities said.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said 39-year-old Gary Cauley shot himself as a SWAT team introduced a chemical agent into the home in an attempt to subdue him. Cauley had allowed his daughter, Rylan, to leave the home about 30 minutes earlier, Judd said. She was not hurt during the incident.

Deputies said Cauley arrived at the home of his estranged wife around 4 a.m. Saturday. Around 1 p.m. Saturday, Cauley became angry when he found out that his wife planned to go to the beach with another man, deputies said. Armed with a handgun, Cauley threatened to kill himself and refused to let Rylan leave the house, deputies said.

Cauley’s wife contacted authorities and ran out of the house when deputies arrived.

As law enforcement surrounded the home, Cauley remained in the house with Rylan until Sunday afternoon, deputies said. Throughout the standoff, Cauley spoke with hostage negotiators and told them he did not intend to harm his daughter, Judd said.

“We’re never comfortable with a man that’s got a gun, that’s threatening suicide and not allowing his daughter, or whoever the hostage is, to leave,” Judd said. “Because a person who is suicidal can very easily be homicidal.”

Judd said Cauley frequently told negotiators that he would end the standoff and release his daughter, but by Sunday morning he was still inside house with Rylan.

However, around 1:30 p.m., Cauley released Rylan to the deputies outside. He told the girl to trust the deputies and that he was going to kill himself, Judd said.

About 30 minutes later, deputies sent a robot probe into the house and repeatedly asked Cauley to surrender. As deputies pumped the chemical agent into the home, Cauley walked out the front door, put the gun in his mouth and shot himself, Judd said.

Cauley was pronounced dead at the scene.

Judd said Cauley had a lengthy criminal record and as a convicted felon, he was not permitted to own a gun. He was on probation in a domestic violence case.

“Why in the world would you subject your children to this?” Judd said.

Follow this story

Family of man killed by Florida deputy says his death could have been prevented

The family of a mentally ill man shot and killed by a Jacksonville sheriff’s deputy said authorities should have done more to de-escalate the situation.

Police identified the man as 52-year-old Harold Kraai. Family members described Kraai as a gentle giant who suffered from schizophrenia.

Family members called deputies Saturday morning after Kraai became distributive and smashed a car window. When a deputy arrived, Kraai was waiting on the porch holding a kitchen knife.

Chris Butler, a spokesman for the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, said the deputy shot Kraai after he advanced on the deputy and ignored repeated commands to drop the weapon.

Butler said Kraai told a 911 dispatcher and the deputy on the scene that he wanted to die.

“All I wanted was some help with my son,” Jacqulie Waver, Kraai’s mother, told local TV station WJXT. “That’s all I wanted was some help.”

Waver said that deputies have dealt with Kraai for years and could have used other ways to control her son.

Butler defended the Sheriff’s Office response to the incident.

“We receive training in academy on how to deal with people with mental illness as well as when we’re on scene,” Butler said. “We also have to remember we have an individual armed with knife who’s a threat to the officer as well as bystanders in the area.”

Jessica Jordan, Kraai’s niece, is planning a peaceful protest over her uncle’s death.

“You don’t shoot a mentally ill person,” Jordan said. “You talk to them.”

Follow this story