10 South Florida mayors sue state to make their own gun laws

Ten mayors in Miami-Dade and Broward counties have announced they are banding together to sue the state of Florida for the right to make their own gun laws.

A state law bans cities and counties from imposing their own gun-control rules. City leaders can be personally fined up to $5,000 if they disobey the law. The mayors said the penalties are unconstitutional.

While law enforcement agencies generally support the provision because it creates uniformity, the law’s strict and personal penalties are unique to Florida.

“The idea that we cannot control our own space to make sure it’s safe for our residents and visitors is astounding,” Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said.

Coral Gables, Cutler Bay, Lauderhill, Miami Beach, Miami Gardens, Miramar, Pinecrest, Pompano Beach, South Miami and Weston are participating in the lawsuit.

The law is receiving renewed attention after 17 people were killed in a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Some of the survivors of the shooting have become staunch advocates for stricter gun laws including banning semiautomatic weapons like the AR-15 rifle used in the killings. 

“We get calls every day, ‘What are you going to do?'” Miramar Mayor Wayne Messam said.

Gov. Rick Scott signed new measures regulating gun sales after the shooting, but the city leaders said the new rules don’t go far enough. The measures raised the age to buy a semiautomatic rifle from 18 to 21 and imposed a three-day waiting period to long gun sales. 

However, the changes didn’t include a ban on semiautomatic weapons or address ways people can avoid background checks by buying weapons at gun shows or through private sales.

“We don’t want those weapons to be carried in Coral Gables, sold in Coral Gables,” city Mayor Raul Valdes Fauli said.

McKinley Lewis, a spokesman for Scott, said the governor is reviewing the lawsuit.

The two South Florida towns most affected by the Stoneman Douglas shooting — Parkland and nearby Coral Springs — are not part of the lawsuit. Parkland’s leaders have not addressed the issue and Coral Springs is working on a separate lawsuit. 

“We challenge the rest of the 400-or-so cities in this state and the 67 counties, come stand with us,” Weston Mayor Daniel Stermer said.

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13-year-old boy saves family’s home from fire in Weston

A 13-year-old boy saved his Weston home from fire after a blaze broke out in his garage, officials said.

Battalion Chief Michael Kane, a spokesman for Broward Fire Rescue, said firefighters rushed to the scene of fire just after 2 p.m. in the 1300 block of  Majesty Terrace only to find that Lucas Gudas already had it handled.

The Falcon Cove Middle School student told firefighters that he smelled smoke coming from the garage and told his family to get out of the house, Kane said. While his mother called 911, Lucas used the family’s fire extinguisher on the fire, putting out the blaze.

“If not for the courage and wherewithal of young Lucas, we could be reporting a tragedy. Instead, we are praising a remarkable young man as a hero,” Kane said.

Kane said the fire was caused by a couple of overheated batteries for a remote-control car.

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Baby monitor captures thief burglarizing home in Weston

A burglar was captured on a baby monitor Wednesday breaking into a home in Weston.

The footage shows the thief forcing his way into the home by prying open a window and climbing into the bedroom of the homeowner’s 2-year-old daughter.

“My phone started pinging and letting me know someone may be in the house. And it was my baby monitor for my child’s room,” Guillermo Gonzalo said. 

Gonzalo told Local 10 News that he was at work about noon Wednesday when he got the alert.

“I checked the footage and it showed that someone had broken into the house. In fact, it showed someone coming in through the window, in my child’s room,” he said. 

Gonzalo and his wife both work, and fortunately, he said his daughter was safe at day care. 

Video shows the burglar walk back to close the window before going through the rest of the home. 

“The person was in the house for about 10 minutes, at least, looking for and going through the house looking for any valuables,” Gonzalo said. 

Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies went to the house, but the burglar was already gone.

The burglar was wearing distinctive reddish gloves and a sweatshirt with the word “Italia” across the front. Gonzalo said the window that was broken into was secured and locked.

In the meantime, he is using hurricane shutters to protect his home.  

“You feel violated when these kinds of things happen,” Gonzalo said. “My wife — I sent her and my daughter to my in-laws house in the meantime.”

Anyone with information about the burglary is asked to call Broward Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS. 

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Weston student kicked off college soccer team for racial slur

A Weston student has withdrawn from college after she was kicked off the school’s soccer team for making a racial slur on social media.

Georgia State University suspended freshmen Natalia Martinez, 18, from the team days after she used one of her Instagram accounts to make the slur. Martinez withdrew from school the same day the suspension was announced on Jan. 22.

Martinez, a graduate of Cypress Bay High School in Weston, apologized for the remarks in an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“The truth is, I could give you excuses … but what you need to know is what’s in my heart,” said Martinez.


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Cypress Bay High School student receives text threatening her life

A South Florida mother is on edge after she said threatening text messages were recently sent to her daughter.

The teen believes the messages are from a 10th-grader at Cypress Bay High School in Weston.

The Broward Sheriff’s Office confirmed Friday that a teen received a citation and was not arrested since this is his first offense. 

The mother said the student threatened to kill and dismember her daughter.

“I don’t want to be that mom standing over my daughter’s grave and say, ‘The cops told me it was just talk,'” Staci Grogan said. 

Grogan said she fears for her daughter’s life.

The 14-year-old told her mother that she randomly received several screenshots of text messages that appear to be between two boys discussing harmful things they would do to her and a friend.

“There’s explicit threats, even this morning, of how the guy asking to help the other person how to dispose the bodies, feed them to the sharks. There’s explicit details. To me, that’s premeditated rape, premeditated kidnapping, premeditated murder — not OK,” Grogan said. 

A screenshot of one of the text chats reads, in part: “So how are you going to kidnap them and get away with it?”

The person responds, “I’m going to go with my gang in my boy’s car and snatch them from wherever they are hanging out with no cameras or witness (expletive).”

“It makes me very concerned that this is happening in the school and we don’t know where it’s coming from or who it is,” Grogan said. 

Grogan said her daughter believes the string of texts came from someone at her school.

Grogan said she took her concerns straight to the Weston Police Department. 

“The sergeant basically said that, ‘Well, you know the threat wasn’t directly made to your daughter,'” Grogan said. “I said, ‘Direct or indirect, my daughter’s name was mentioned in this thread and her pictures are in the thread. To me, that’s a direct threat and it’s very concerning.'” 

BSO deputies said they worked with the Weston Police Department to determine who was behind the texts. 

Authorities said the teen will have to attend a juvenile civil citation program. If he completes the program successfully, he will be not be charged. 

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