Around the Region for Jan. 10, 2011

Published: Sunday, January 9, 2011 at 11:21 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 9, 2011 at 11:21 p.m.


Suspect still behind bars

LaToya Cherelle Cook, 21, remains behind bars at the Alachua County Jail after Gainesville Police say she tried four times to run over a woman and that woman's 5-year-old daughter at a party on Friday night.

According to a police report, Cook and Cindy Lynette Clark got into a fight at an outdoor party in Southeast Gainesville just before 9 p.m. Friday. Cook then got into the driver's seat of a 2010 Chevy Malibu and directed it at Clark and her daughter, accelerated and tried to hit them. Clark jumped out of the way as a bystander grabbed Clark's daughter. Cook put the car into reverse and accelerated toward Clark and her daughter again. She missed Clark but hit a parked vehicle. Cook then tried to hit Clark a third time, missing her but hitting two parked cars. On her fourth and final attempt to hit Clark, Cook ran into another parked vehicle.

“If [Cook] had successfully struck victim 1 or victim 2, it is likely that it would have resulted in the death of one or both,” Gainesville Police Officer Kenneth Singletary wrote in his report.

Cook fled the area, but a Gainesville Police officer spotted her driving the Malibu on Southeast Williston Road when she failed to come to a complete stop. She was pulled over and that officer had to physically remove Cook from the car because she refused to get out.

In addition to two attempted murder charges, police also charged her with habitually driving with a suspended license.

— Kimberly C. Moore

Police: Man abused his stepdaughter

Gainesville Police arrested a 32-year-old man Sunday morning and charged him with child abuse after his stepdaughter said he entered her bedroom in the middle of the night and rubbed her buttocks.

According to a police report, the alleged victim awoke to find her bedroom light on and her stepfather in her room. He quickly turned the light off when someone was heard in the hallway outside her room. According to the report, he turned the lights back on, sat down on the girl's bed and began stroking her buttocks for five to 10 minutes.

The girl told police she was so frightened that she pretended to be asleep. When he left her room, she called her sister, who lives elsewhere in the county. The sister called their mother and told her to talk to the alleged victim.

The mother, who has been married to the man for six years, told police she found her daughter crying and hysterical and said, “I've never seen her shook up like that before.”

The mother took the girl to the sister's home and called police. According to the police report, the alleged victim told her mother she never wanted to return to the home as long as the man is there.

— Kimberly C. Moore

GPD searching for shooting suspect

Gainesville Police are looking for a gunman in a Sunday evening shooting.

Gainesville Police Spokeswoman Tscharna Senn said the victim, who has not been identified, drove to Gainesville from his home in Winter Haven on Sunday with a friend. When the pair arrived at the Gardenia Gardens apartment complex on Northwest Eighth Avenue, an unidentified man got into the backseat of their car. The passenger in the car got out and ran off. The driver got out and began to wrestle with the gunman. The gun went off and hit the driver in the right hip. He was taken to Shands at the University of Florida for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.

Police are now looking for a thin black male, 5 feet 9 inches tall, wearing a black hat, tan jacket and white undershirt. They also want to talk with the passenger in the car, who has not been found.

Senn said they have no known motive right now and do not know if the victim knew the gunman.

Anyone with information is asked to call the GPD at 393-7670 or CrimeStoppers at 372-7867.

— Kimberly C. Moore

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