Around the region-Jan.11

Published: Monday, January 11, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 10, 2010 at 11:54 p.m.


Homeowner fires at burglary suspect

Alachua County Sheriff's deputies are searching for a man who apparently was interrupted while burglarizing a home Sunday afternoon and ran off with stolen firearms as the homeowner fired several shots at his fleeing vehicle.

The incident occurred just before 4 p.m. at a home about a half mile from the Putnam County line in the 10000 block of Holden Park Road, said Sheriff's Office spokesman Art Forgey. Investigators were still at the scene Sunday evening.

The homeowner interrupted a burglary in progress and fired a weapon at the suspect as he escaped with two pistols and a rifle, wrapped in a blanket, Forgey said.

Shots hit the side and back of the suspect's car, described as a small, two-door, gold passenger car that is possibly a foreign-made vehicle, Forgey said. The car may have bullet holes in the side windows, back window and trunk. It was last seen headed toward Hawthorne.

Investigators do not know if the suspect was wounded either by a bullet or flying glass, Forgey said.

Anyone with information about this case or the location of the vehicle or suspect is asked to contact investigators at 955-1818 or Crime Stoppers at 372-7867, which offers a reward up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest.

Lise Fisher

Prescribed burn engulfs Gainesville in smoke

A controlled burn in Columbia County again caused smoke to blanket Gainesville on Sunday, the second day the area has seen and smelled smoke from a burn in the Osceola National Forest, according to the Florida Division of Forestry.

About 1,000 acres were burning Sunday in Columbia County, said Ludie Bond, a wildlife mitigation specialist with the Florida Division of Forestry. Wind out of the northwest blew the smoke into counties south and southeast of burn site, including Alachua County.

"They're burning such large amounts of vegetation that the smoke generated is pretty impressive," Bond said.

Prescribed burning is generally done when the weather is cooler and vegetation is dormant. Burning gets rid of fuel that could power future wildfires and helps the health of the land.

Bond said it can be confusing that authorizations are issued for these kind of burns, but the general public is told to use caution because the recent hard freeze kills plants that can fuel fires when there is low humidity and wind. But authorizations at this time are issued to those, such as the U.S. Forest Service, with personnel who are knowledgeable about daily conditions that can change fire behavior.

It was unlikely that the smoke would remain in place to cause problems for motorists today.

"Chances are it will continue to lift and move out," Bond said.

Lise Fisher

Bronson man accused of molesting teen

A Bronson man arrested last week by Levy County deputies is accused of sexually molesting a teenager, according to officers.

Detective Jay Crooms arrested Phillip Alexander, 67, of Bronson, on Friday, the Levy County Sheriff's Office reported. Alexander is accused of performing an unlawful sex act and lewd and lascivious molestation on a minor.

A friend of the victim, who was a teenager at the time of the alleged crime, contacted the Sheriff's Office on Friday to report what had happened. The victim confirmed the allegation, and Alexander later confessed he had engaged in sexual intercourse with the victim, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Alexander knew the victim, said Lt. Scott Finnen.

The alleged molestation occurred over the past year, Finnen said.

Lise Fisher


Teen arrested in scuffle over Confederate flag

NAPLES - A Naples high school student has been charged with felony battery over a scuffle with another student who had a Confederate flag displayed on his car.

Collier County Sheriff's deputies responded to Lely High School Friday to a complaint that one student tried to pull another student out of the car.A report shows that 18-year-old Alfredo David was arrested at the scene. The victim was not identified. He told authorities David taunted him to try to start a fight over the flag, punched him in the chest through the open windows and then tried to pull him out of the car.

3 found sick after grill used as heater

ST. PETERSBURG - Three people are being treated in a St. Petersburg hospital after becoming sick from using a barbecue grill iside their home for heat.

Fire rescue officials responded to the home Sunday and reported the possibility of mild carbon monoxide poisoning.

A 77-year-old man, a 72-year-old woman and their 41-year-old daughter were all taken to the hospital. Their conditions were not immediately known.

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