Broward Sheriff’s Office skips honors for police dog killed off duty

The Broward Sheriff’s Office often shows off its proud K-9 unit at community events and there was even a reality TV show featuring often dangerous work of the trained dogs. But when the K9 officer Pedro was gunned down nearly two weeks ago, the agency kept the tragic death from the public.

Pedro was living at the Parkland home of his handler, Sgt. Ian Sklar, who also supervises the K-9 unit. Without his knowledge, Pedro escaped. The dog got out of the heavily gated yard the night of May 14, which was Mother’s Day. He made it to a home more than a half mile away, where he was shot and killed by resident John Dagati, who mistook the German shepherd for a coyote.

According to the report, Pedro — who was 4 years, 7 months old — initially startled Dagati’s father, Frank, by jumping up on him. When the son heard his father yell, he grabbed his 9 mm pistol. Pedro, meanwhile, walked into the family’s guest house before walking back out into the yard. 

When John Dagati arrived with his pistol, he mistook the dog for a coyote and believed the coyote had attacked his father.

“John fired the complete magazine containing 10 rounds,” the deputies wrote in the incident report. “The dog was struck and fell to the ground. The dog died on scene. … John and Frank were fully cooperative and John stated he felt bad that he shot the dog.”

Neighbor Cindy Schnell said she wanted to know how the dog got out of the house. 

“I’m shocked and horrified,” Schnell said.

Pedro was not given a memorial service. While the Broward Sheriff’s Office and Sheriff Scott Israel refused to comment on the death, Sklar was not found to have violated any of the policies of the Sheriff’s Office.

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‘Y’all got to stop that,’ teen bystander says after being shot Miami Gardens

It’s no secret that gun violence involving teens is a major concern throughout South Florida. In many of cases, investigators link the crimes to gang activity.

Back in October, several teens were shot in one afternoon in Miami Gardens and the family of one of those teens, Ty,  said was never in a gang and was in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

“It was a Saturday. My son says, ‘Mom, I’m going to the park, I’ll see you later, love you,'” Andrea Murray said about her then 17-year-old son.

It was Oct. 15, and Miami Gardens police said someone shot three teens walking from nearby Bunche Park. Video shot by Local 10 News shows Ty’s sandals, which were left behind as he tried to outrun the bullets.

 I have never seen anything like this, anything like this before in my life,” Alba Jofre said.  

Seven months later Ty, whose family didn’t want his last name used, is back home and  spoke about how that day changed his life.

Ty said he recalls a car driving by and moments later someone wearing a mask got out and opened fire.  Ty felt a bullet hit his leg and tried to take cover.

“And then he came behind the car and shot me some more,” Ty said. “He put the gun to my head but the gun didn’t shoot, it got jammed, I think.”

Ty had been shot six times. 

One of the bullets broke his femur, then tore through his intestines, causing an infection in his blood. In the end, doctors had to amputate his right leg.

“That was the hardest moment for me,” Muarry said.  “I broke down and cried and got on my knees. I prayed and thank God that if they got to take it, take it. Just leave him.”

It was nearly February when Ty finally made it home.

The worst pain he says, that broken bone.

“There’s no painkillers for it to help it stop because it’s in my bone,” Ty said.

Meanwhile, Ty’s mother just wants answers.

“I  just basically want to know why,” she said.

Ty’s shooting was one of several shootings that day, which police said at the time could be gang-related. Ty said  he’s never been in a gang. He and his friends were unarmed.

“It seems as if they were targeted and misconstrued to be associated with another group of kids,” Murray said. “I think it was just the wrong place, wrong time.”  

But months later, Murray  is angry no one has come forward with information. Police have made no arrests. 

“It also makes me sad,” she said. “This is supposed to be our community and you’re letting other people come in and ruin it.”  

With people in the community so reluctant to come forward with information about shootings, Murray said she wishes there was more security from the city in places like parks. Specifically she’d like to see cameras.

“If you can put up red-light cameras to give cars tickets, you need to be using real-time monitoring to find out what’s going on in what area and especially in the park,” Murray said.

A Miami Gardens spokeswoman said the city plans to add cameras to all city parks, including Bunche Park. But she gave no timeline for when that will happen.

“I  just really don’t want something like this to end up on anybody’s doorstep,” Ty said.  “I never thought about it, because I didn’t ever think it would happen to me.”  

Now Ty said his only focus is getting better and eventually walking again with a prosthetic.

He said he doesn’t waste time hating his attacker- but he does have something to say to anyone picking up guns without thinking of the damage they leave behind. 

“Y’all got to stop that,” he said.

 

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Personal information on True People Search easily removed

There’s a free website called True People Search that allows users to search for people using just a first and last name.

Nicole Miller had never heard of the site, but it knew all about her.

“My age, where I live, my address,” Miller said. “Oh my God.”

Think of it as one-stop shopping for personal information.

Anyone can find almost about you everything on this website, from your cellphone number to where you live — even where your relatives live. It’s all perfectly legal, but there is a way to get your information off the site.

The information on the site is mostly public record. Often it is what we have shared with social media sites or other businesses.

The website says the goal is to make finding lost friends and family as easy as possible, but some people said aggregating all this public information in one place makes it a little too public.

Gina Castellanos Pelaez found more than she wanted to about herself on the website.

“My maiden name and then my married name and then my ex-married name, so maybe a little more information than I would like to admit,” she said.  

She also found her daughter’s information.

She said in this digital age she’s not surprised by how much information is out there, but she does want to know who’s looking at these sites and why.

“Why? Why would anybody want this information? What can be done with it?” Castellanos Pelaez said. “I would definitely like a way of eliminating my information from a site like this.” 

You can remove your information from the website.

Just click on the privacy tab at the bottom of the screen. From there, hit record removal requests and follow the instructions.

This isn’t the only site sharing personal information. The website Family Tree now shares the same details.

“Keep(ing) track of how much of your information is out there is a job that I don’t think any one person cares to take on,” Castellanos Pelaez said.

The good news is once you remove your information from the website, the process typically takes just a few hours.

One way to protect your information is to opt out whenever possible of allowing businesses and banks to share your information with third parties.

Local 10 News reached out online to the website to ask about privacy concerns. So far we have not heard back.

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Drivers call U.S. 441, Pembroke Road intersection most dangerous in South Florida

South Florida drivers are fed up with the intersection of U.S. 441 and Pembroke Road near Hollywood, calling it the most dangerous intersection in South Florida.

Drivers said the intersection is poorly marked and littered with potholes and everybody on the road is in danger.

But does it deserve the title of the most dangerous intersection?

“I drive everyday 10 or 12 times,” Julio Cedeno said. “It’s horrible. About three accidents a day, different times a day.”

Another man who drives for a living told Local 10 News that construction in the area has caused a mess.

In just about an hour, Local 10 News reporter Andrew Perez saw close call after close call and traffic infraction after traffic infraction.

“It really starts right at Sheridan, and from Sheridan on up right there to county line. It’s horrible,” one driver said.

With construction ongoing on for a chunk of U.S. 441, the Pembroke Road intersection is the area that authorities have seen the most trouble.

Hollywood police reported 30 wrecks there since the start of the year.

Miramar police also has jurisdiction in the area and reported two wrecks this year.

The Broward Sheriff’s Office covers the area, as well.  

There’s next to no signage in the area and road work in the area is expected to continue until winter 2019.

The Florida Department of Transportation promises that improvements are coming.

Construction crews said most of the accidents they’ve seen near the intersection have been south of Pembroke Road and involved vehicles making left turns from either intersections or driveways that are signed as right-turn-only.

Those movements will not be possible once the traffic in both directions is separated during the median construction phase, because only right turns will be permitted.

Multiple improvements are in the works, including adding one through lane in each direction for a total of six lanes, in addition to turn lanes, adding raised medians and constructing a new storm sewer system and retention ponds.

Sidewalks are also expected to be replaced with ADA compliant ramps on both sides of the road.

 

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Man, 70, accuses Miami Gardens pastor of taking his dream home

Edward Fuller is one of several people who contacted Local 10 News after an investigation aired about the business practices of Miami Gardens pastor Eric Readon.

He claims the pastor has taken him for over $500,000 and tricked him into signing over his dream house.

Victims claim they loaned Readon money, handed over cash to rent homes and gave him a deposit to buy his car.

All claimed they were not repaid.

Fuller said he took  his case to Miami-Dade police but was told that, because he willfully signed papers and was not forced to, it was a civil matter.

He has yet to find an attorney to take his case.

Fuller, 70, has plans, the permits and the pictures from the home.

“I can walk through this house blindfolded and tell you exactly where everything is,” he said.

Fuller doesn’t have his dream house and claims he was blindsided by Readon.

“He sold my house,” Fuller said. “He sold my house (on) Feb.13.  He sold my house for $380,000.”

 And how much did Fuller get from that?

“Not one red cent,” he said.

The home is located in the 10900 block of Northwest 19th Avenue.

Fuller bought the property more than 30 years ago and had a plan — after a 35-year career with the U.S. Postal Service, his retirement project was to build a dream house for his family.

“This is where I wanted to spend my final days, in a sense,” Fuller said. “It was like my gift to my daughters once I was gone. It’s that simple.”

After retirement, the walls and the roof went up.

Fuller admits he ran out of money to finish.

Then, he claims, one day Readon appeared.

The pair had never met before.

“Somehow, he got the info I was having a problem getting it completed,” Fuller said. “He knew people who could get the money and we could complete this house.”

Fuller claims Readon took him to a hard money lender for a loan.

Project Youth Outreach Unlimited, a nonprofit corporation, was made the contractor on the $125,000 construction loan.

Readon is the president of that nonprofit.

And there was a catch. To get the loan Fuller had to sign 50 percent of his property over to Readon.

Since conventional lenders had turned him down, Fuller agreed and work on the house began again.

Fuller let Readon have full control over the $125,000 loan.

When the money ran out, the house was still not finished.

Fuller claims in order to get more funds using his good credit, the pastor persuaded him to  sign over the other 50 percent of the house, so Fuller’s credit would be free and clear.

That meant Project Youth Outreach Unlimited and Readon now owned the entire house.

“‘I promise you, man, you’re going to get your house back,’ This is what he told me,” Fuller said. “‘You’re gonna get your house back.’ I trusted him.”

But it never happened.

Fuller only learned Readon sold the house for $380,000 when he did a property records search.

 “I said, ‘Eric, you sold my house,’” Fuller said. “He said, ‘I got my own personal money tied up in this house and I can’t lose my money.’”

Readon canceled plans to talk on camera to Local 10 News. 

As Local 10 reported last month, others have said they gave Readon cash deposits to rent homes and buy cars and loaned him cash.

Some did get money back, but only after we began to ask questions.

The legal trouble against this pastor is  mounting. According to court records Blackrain Capital has filed suit against Readon and his church for fraud, negligence and theft.

The suit claims Blackrain entered into a joint venture to buy houses with the pastor. Blackrain fronted Readon money to buy houses and trusted him because he was “a man of God.”

An attorney for Blackrain says Readon never repaid or split proceeds from the sale of properties and Blackrain is out over $100,000.

Court records also show Readon was ordered to take an anger management class after sending harassing and inappropriate emails in which he threatened an attorney and his staff over a custody issue concerning his son.

Court records show one of those e-mails contained a picture of a dead body.

Readon is known for showing up at tragic events around South Florida to preach about doing the right thing.

He has called the Local 10 newsroom and reporter Jeff Weinsier’s cellphone several times.

Our invitation to sit down with him one-on-one and ask about his business practices still stands.

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Water quality, service become top concerns in Coral Springs

Dyan Harpest had to get creative when a burst pipe meant no water for 12 hours at her Coral Springs restaurant in February.

“I (opened) at 6 in the morning and my employees are telling me there’s no water,” Harpest, the owner of Dyan’s Country Kitchen, said.

To stay open Harpest bought water from a retail source and tried calling her water provider, Royal Utility.

“When I made calls they wouldn’t answer. You couldn’t even leave a message,” she said.

Harpest said there was no official notification she needed to boil water for 48 hours and neighbors say they learned of the boil water order  from hand-painted signs. 

About 4,500 customers in neighborhoods near University Drive all get their water from Royal Utility, which is a private company.

“We pay a lot for the water but we don’t trust the water,” a resident said. “It just doesn’t taste good.”

It’s not just service that consumers are worried about, but water quality.

“There’s been instances where we had to throw out silverware and glasses because the silverware and glasses are stained,” Keith Roberts said.

County records show that in the past five years Royal Utility has had 14 health department violations and been fined $13,000 in violations including for operational problems like a storage tank  improperly connected to a drain for lime sludge.

The company was also fined for not notifying the community of high levels of trihalomethanes–or TTHMS–a contaminant that’s been linked to cancer. It’s the same violation we recently reported on in the city of Pembroke Pines water.

“Having bacteria in my water that I don’t know about is a big deal at my house,” Polly Torres said.

In March the company posted a notice saying the aging system needs major improvements. They had tried unsuccessfully to sell to the city of Coral Springs. and without that sale, the company warned it would need to file for a major rate increase.

Royal Utility owner Jock McCartney gave Local 10 News a look at his facility. 

McCartney was one of the developers of the community and was forced to take over the water utility when the former owners suddenly went bankrupt, threatening his investment.

When asked if he wants to be in the water business, McCartney said he doesn’t.

“Not really,” he said. “But as long as we’re in it we’re going to be doing good quality water.”

McCartney said he takes all customer complaints seriously, but wants the city to step up with an offer to take over.

“So you are willing to negotiate?” Local 10 News reporter Amy Viteri said.

“Oh yes, we’ve never gotten to that though,” McCartney answered.  

Coral Springs Vice Mayor Dan Daley said the city won’t put taxpayers on the hook.

“Man something’s not right and we’ve got to make sure we’re keeping an eye on it,” he said.

Daley said beyond any sale price, engineers have estimated millions of dollars in repairs are still lurking below ground.

“So for 20 years not only were they not making improvements but nobody was really checking in on them,” he said.

Neighbors and business owners want to know who’s going to check on them.

And the neighbors feel as if they’re caught in the middle.

“That’s correct and we’d  like to see it right for them and we’d like to see it right for us,” McCarthy said.

McCarthy said they have never set a sale price, but a letter from Coral Springs city manager said Royal asked for more than $4 million to sell. The city refused based on the amount of improvements needed and said here have been no further discussions.

“We’re all wondering the next day will we have water, will this happen again,” Harpest said.

 

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