Around the Region for Aug. 2

Published: Friday, August 1, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, August 2, 2008 at 12:56 a.m.

Man flips car, jailed for license issue, police say

A local resident with a checkered driving history ran off a road, flipping his vehicle in northeast Gainesville on Thursday night, police reported.

Officers arrested Allen Bryant, 47, of Gainesville for driving with a suspended or revoked license and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, according to an arrest report.

The crash occurred at NE 8th Avenue and Waldo Road at about 8:15 p.m., Gainesville Police reported.

Bryant lost control of his blue Ford pickup, which overturned, destroyed a traffic control box and also hit another vehicle, according to police. Officers saw a rifle in the seat next to Bryant, who was alone in the pickup. Bryant told officers the gun wasn’t loaded.

When police checked Bryant’s criminal and traffic history, they found he had been listed as a habitual offender for driving with a suspended or revoked license and had a 1999 felony conviction for a weapons charge.

Bryant had minor injuries, police reported. He was being held at the Alachua County jail on an $11,000 bond Friday, jail records showed.

The crash shut down traffic lights for hours, according to reports from the scene.

— Aaron Daye and Lise Fisher

Police to crack down on red light runners

Sunday would be a really good day to begin paying even closer attention to red lights in Gainesville. Police are planning a weeklong crackdown on red light runners as part of a nationwide effort.

Aug. 3-9 is National Stop on Red Week, a week set aside to reduce red light violations and increase awareness of the dangers associated with running red lights.

Gainesville Police have made plans to “increase enforcement efforts at intersections with histories of high violations and crash occurrences.”

More information is available at

— Karen Voyles

GPD, others host Crime Prevention Fair today

Gainesville Police are inviting families with children to join them for a day of fun at Westside Park today during their Crime Prevention Fair.

Children are invited to stop by the education stations at the park, where they can earn points toward free gifts. The activities will be held from 8 until 11:30 a.m.

In addition to the police department, the event is sponsored by the City of Gainesville, Children’s Advocacy Center, and the Safe Kids program.

— Karen Voyles

Neighborhood events planned for Night Out

Local law enforcement agencies will be hosting the 25th annual National Night Out on Tuesday evening. The event is designed to increase awareness about police programs and form bonds among community residents.

In High Springs, the event will be held at Katherine Taylor Park on SE Douglas Street, where the department will provide free refreshments and a fire truck will be on display, according to the High Springs Police Department.

The Gainesville Police Department is handling the evening differently. Gainesville residents are encouraged to turn on porch lights, walk the streets with friends and meet neighbors. A barbecue will be held at Lincoln Park for residents who live near the area but it is open to all who want to attend.

Forty Gainesville neighborhoods plan to participate in the activities, said Gainesville Police Sgt. Jeff Blundell.

The Alachua County Sheriff’s Office is encouraging residents to contact the agency’s crime prevention section at 352-367-4043 or e-mail to schedule activities in their neighborhood.

For more information from the other law enforcement agencies, contact Sgt. Antoine Sheppard at the HSPD at 386-454-1415 or Blundell at GPD at 334-2385.

— Stewart Atkinson

Panel criticizes police in informant’s death

TALLAHASSEE — Police negligence contributed to the killing of a drug informant, a grand jury said Friday. The panel also indicted two men on first-degree murder charges in the case.

Rachel Hoffman, 23, was fatally shot while helping Tallahassee police with a narcotics investigation in May.

The grand jury recommended that police change their policies and procedures on the use of informants and take disciplinary action against officers who participated in the case.

Andrea Green, 25, and Deneilo Bradshaw, 23, are charged with murdering the woman. They were arrested shortly after the killing.

State Attorney Willie Meggs told the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper that he probably would seek the death penalty.

Police had given Hoffman money and instructions to buy a gun and drugs from the pair but she vanished. Her body was found two days later in rural Taylor County, southeast of Tallahassee.

— The Associated Press

Deputies investigating double murder-suicide

EAST FORT MYERS — The Lee County Sheriff’s Office still doesn’t know who was the attacker in a double murder-suicide.

Authorities were asked to check on the well-being of a family in East Fort Myers around 6:30 a.m. Friday. Deputies said they found the bodies of a married couple and woman inside.

They are identified as: 54-year-old Denise Lawrence, 59-year-old Michael Lawrence and 79-year-old Lorraine Frye.

Sgt. Larry King said the victims were all related and the second woman is the mother of either the husband or wife.

King also said a note was found in the house that seemed to indicate the killings were planned.

No further information has been released.

— The Associated Press

No TV, video games for girls who trashed home

NEW SMYRNA BEACH — Chick-fil-A restaurant founder S. Truett Cathy has decided two girls accused of causing $30,000 in damage to his home should be punished with a writing assignment instead of charges.

In a deal Cathy worked out with their parents, the girls must write “I will not vandalize other people’s property” 1,000 times. They’re also banned from watching TV and playing video games and must read a good book.

New Smyrna Beach police told the Daytona Beach News-Journal the preteens broke into Cathy’s home known as the Chick-fil-A lodge between July 11 and 15 and sprayed fire extinguishers, threw eggs and left water running in the kitchen.

Police say they also had a food fight on the tennis court and poured vegetable oil on a dining room table so they could use it as a “slip and slide.”

The 87-year-old Cathy said he didn’t want to prosecute the girls and leave them with a criminal record.

The girls told investigators they were bored when they broke in.

— The Associated Press

Judge strikes down Miami-Dade lying law

MIAMI — An ordinance making it a crime punishable by fines and jail to lie during petition drives in Miami-Dade County has been struck down by a federal judge.

U.S. District Judge Alan Gold ruled Friday that the threat of arrest acts as a deterrent to free speech and violates the First Amendment.

Gold also said the ordinance was vague and gave too much discretion to law enforcement officials.

The anti-lying ordinance was passed two years ago after Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez won a petition drive to boost the power of the mayor’s office. Alvarez vetoed the ordinance, but the county commission overrode his veto.

The lawsuit challenging the ordinance was filed last year by former Miami Beach Mayor David Dermer.

— The Associated Press

Survey ranks state’s highways 41st in nation

MIAMI — A new survey ranks Florida’s highways 41st in the nation.

The 17th Annual Highway Performance report from the Reason Foundation looked at traffic congestion, fatalities and pavement condition, among other factors.

The survey did give the state high marks for highways in rural areas, but it wasn’t enough to overcome its low rankings for funding to keep up Florida’s more than 12,000 miles of highway.

North Dakota and South Carolina roads rated highest in the overall rankings from the libertarian think tank.

New Jersey’s ranked the lowest.

— The Associated Press

UM med school to work on lung cancer vaccine

MIAMI — University of Miami is partnering with a venture capital firm to start a company to develop a lung cancer vaccine.

The UM medical school and the Miami Beach firm Seed-One Ventures have formed Heat Biologics to work on technologies developed by Eckhard Podack, a doctor who is head of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the UM medical school.

Podack’s work is based on injecting genetically altered cancer cells into patients who already have the disease.

He theorizes that the injected cells would activate killer cells that would attack the lung cancer.

Heat Biologics is already enrolling patients for the first phase of testing to show the vaccine can be safely injected into humans. A second phase would test it on late-stage lung cancer patients.

— The Associated Press

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