Category Archives: Breaking News

DeBary mayor: ‘Keep your fingers crossed!’

Mayor Bob Garcia this morning expressed optimism about electricity restoration for still-powerless neighborhoods in DeBary.

Electricity has slowly been returning to DeBary homes and businesses after Hurricane Irma downed power lines and caused other problems with distribution networks Sunday.

“I believe that based on what I see the [equipment] and supplies are coming into DeBary,” Garica said online Saturday. “Keep your fingers crossed!”

The message was posted on Facebook’s DeBary Proud! page by DeBary resident Diane M Van Auken on behalf of Garcia, who is “not on social media,” the post said.

“The power company is working hard to get All the power restored in DeBary,” said Garcia. His update also said:

  • Traders Cove has power
  • Highland Marina has partial power restored and is waiting for transformers and tree removal
  • Linemen in Terra Alta are also waiting for tree removal and transformers

“The Vistas area (where Mayor Garcia & his family live) were hit hard and are still without power,” he wrote. “There are many problems there that are being worked on before the power can be restored.”

He said it is possible homes in the Valencia Circle area may get power by tonight or no later than Sunday.

Duke Energy says it has 81,055 Volusia customers. Of those, 65,438 had power restored and 6,126 remained without electricity as of 4 p.m. Saturday. Power restoration was estimated by midnight Sunday.

Florida Power and Light said 20,670 of its 176,800 customers in Volusia County are without power as of Saturday.

According to Florida’s Department of Emergency Management:

Duke Energy had more than 1.3 million customers affected by Irma. Power has already been restored to more than 1.1 million customers.

  • Duke Energy expects power restoration to be completed for western service areas the night of Friday, Sept. 15.
  • Duke Energy expects power restoration to be completed for central and northern service areas the night of Sunday, Sept. 17.

Florida Power and Light had 4.4 million customers affected by the storm. Power has already been restored to more than 3.4 million customers.

  • FPL expects power restoration to be completed for the East Coast the night of Sunday, Sept. 17.
  • FPL expects power restoration to be completed for the West Coast by Friday, Sept. 22.

This isn’t the first time Garcia was featured on social media because of the storm.

On Saturday, as the storm approached, a Facebook user posted video of Garcia urging residents to volunteer for cleanup and repairs after Irma passed.

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‘This is the time to hunker down,’ Volusia manager says



Volusia County officials tonight urged residents to stay indoors as Hurricane Irma hammers Florida. A countywide curfew begins at 9 p.m. today and lasts until noon Monday.

“This is the time to hunker down,” said Volusia County Manager Jim Dinneen.

About 4,000 people are currently in emergency shelters in Volusia County. He said the most damaging winds are expected between 11 p.m. today through 10 a.m. Monday.  Gusts of 75 miles per hour are possible.

“We strongly advise that everyone stay inside and not go out in the storm,” Dinneen said. “The ground is saturated from the rain and power lines may be down.”

Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said officers will use “discretion and common sense” while enforcing the curfew.

“Those who are evacuating, unavoidably traveling for work or who have an urgent need to travel in the area are free to do so if absolutely necessary.” a county news release said. “The intent of the curfew is to keep people safe, discourage loitering and prevent looting – which won’t be tolerated.”

Other updates from the county:

  • All bridges in Volusia County to the beachside are closed.
  • The north causeway in New Smyrna Beach and the Main Street Bridge in Daytona Beach have westbound lanes open for those who are leaving beachside.
  • Turnbull Bay Bridge in New Smyrna Beach and Highbridge in Ormond Beach are closed.

The number for the Citizens Information Center is 866-345-0345.

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Hurricane Irma: DeBary Mayor Bob Garcia asks for help


As Hurricane Irma neared, DeBary Mayor Bob Garcia this morning urged residents to quickly complete storm preparations and volunteer if possible to help the community.

Garcia made his comments at about 9 a.m. from the parking lot of Genuine Bistro & Lounge at the crossroads of DeBary’s busiest roadways: U.S. Highway 17-92 and Highbanks Road.

He said residents should complete preparations by 5 p.m. today or, if they’re planning to evacuate, they should leave immediately.

His comments were captured by a Facebook user and posted online.

Garcia was flanked by City Commissioner Erika Benfield and workers can be seen in the background completing storm preparations.

Volusia County is facing an increased threat for tornadoes based on the latest track, according to county emergency managers.

They are expecting 8 to 12 inches of rain with some areas
receiving 15 inches.

After the storm passes and conditions are safe, residents should check on their neighbors to make sure they are safe. Garcia urged residents to clean up, but not to put debris near roadways, fire hydrants and utility poles.

He encouraged residents to join him sometime Monday after the storm passes to volunteer with cleanup efforts.

He said he expects to stage at noon Monday near the intersection to coordinate volunteers.

“I need your help,” Garcia said.  “This is not going to be sponsored by the city. This is us coming together as a community.”

Garcia made his comments shortly before a briefing by Volusia County emergency managers and Sheriff Mike Chitwood.

Chitwood said Volusia County will be under a curfew from 9 p.m. Sunday to 9 a.m. Monday.

Volusia County’s Citizens Information Center is answering questions from callers right now. The number is  866-345-0345.

“We do not want people in the water or at the beach today and in the coming days,” the county said in a news release this morning. “Beach officials are flying the double-red flag. After the
storm, please wait [for] an announcement that it is safe to visit the beach. There may be debris in the water and along the shore.”

The county said Florida Power & Light is expected widespread
destruction throughout its service area. More than 16,000 workers from nearly 30 states are responding.
“FPL expects 3.4 million customers may lose power as a result of Irma, and could experience prolonged outages, based on the current forecast,” the county said.

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DeBary proudly assembling for Hurricane Irma


Got a skill? Want to help? DeBary residents are assembling a volunteer response team in case Hurricane Irma hits.

Tentative plans call for a meeting of potential volunteers Monday night with a location and other details to be released on DeBary Proud on Facebook.

“We are hoping to have people of all skills available for storm or other natural disaster events that can help along side first responders,” Jason Clisby wrote.

Volusia County offers up-to-date information about storm preparedness, including important checklists, online.

DeBary has been hit hard by flooding in the past, even by indirect storm strikes.  As a result, millions have been spent upgrading the River City’s storm-water systems.

Even with those upgrades, DeBary could suffer widespread flooding under a major storm, Public Works Director Alan Williamson told the City Council in June.

Tropical Storm Fay dumped close to 24 inches of rain in 24 hours on parts of West Volusia in 2008, overflowing lakes, putting streets underwater and flooding 130 homes in DeBary.

Clisby issued an invitation for storm response volunteers on Sunday morning.

“If you are interested in volunteering or just getting more info, comment in this post.,” he wrote. “We will update as we have more information. We will likely call for a bigger meeting one evening this week to get everyone on the same page.”

The National Hurricane Center said this about Irma on Sunday:

  • It’s too early to say with certainty where Irma might hit in the U.S. mainland, though projections show it aiming at Florida and sitting northeast of Cuba by Friday.
  • Hurricane Irma is a Category 3 with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph while moving west-southwest.
  • The storm will power up as it moves over warmer water over the next three to five days.

“After 5 days, the forecast becomes much more uncertain, with most models suggesting a sharp turn north while remaining offshore,” the National Hurricane Center said this morning. “However, direct impacts to Florida can’t be ruled out as forecasts a week out are historically unreliable.”

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DeBary crash after chase ends with 3 arrests


An urgent voice crackled over the airwaves.

“They’re getting off at Dirksen. They’re getting off at Dirksen.”

Minutes later, three suspects – accused Ormond Beach cell-phone store robbers  — roared off Interstate 4 and crashed in DeBary as a Volusia County Sheriff’s Office chopper captured the action.

Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood spotted the suspects’ vehicle — a white Dodge — heading south on Interstate 95.

Daraja Adero Tinsley
Sheldric J Slater
Wendell Harp

Cops were looking for the vehicle after three suspects robbed an AT&T store in Ormond Beach on Aug. 29.

The store’s clerk was shoved into a counter and several iPhones were stolen.

Chitwood spotted the getaway vehicle and called in a description and tag number.

The driver refused to stop for a traffic stop. Chitwood radioed in that it failed to stop and started to flee on Interstate 4 heading west.

“Sheriff Chitwood authorized a vehicle pursuit for his agency and pursued the vehicle with marked VCSO Deputy Sheriffs car and FHP marked patrol car,” a report said.

Chitwood said the vehicle then got off at Dirksen Drive heading west.

“The vehicle then crashed near Dirksen Drive/Grande Vista Street. The three occupants of the vehicle then started to run on foot from within the vehicle,” the report said.

Deputies told them to stop – but only two did: Wendell Harp, 18, and Sheldric J. Slater, 19.

Daraja Adero Tinsley, 20,  ran, according to a report and chopper video.

Deputies with two K-9 police dogs later took Tinsley later down near Dirksen and Agua Vista drives in DeBary.” A report said he was taken for medical treatment but details were not released.

A report said he was taken for medical treatment but details were not released.

All three remained at the Volusia County Branch Jail in Daytona Beach on Saturday.

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Dwayne L. Taylor fraud conviction: Volusia pol faces possible prison sentence

 

Today’s wire-fraud conviction of Volusia County politician Dwayne L. Taylor shows federal officials are taking a tough stance against corruption, officials said.
The 49-year-old former state representative from Daytona Beach used $60,000 in re-election campaign donations for personal expenses, a federal indictment said.
“These types of crimes erode the public trust in our elected officials,” Acting U.S. Attorney Stephen Muldrow said in a statement. “This conviction sends a clear message that such acts will not be tolerated and that we will hold anyone who breaks the law accountable for their actions.”
Taylor is a former member of the Florida House of Representatives and Daytona Beach City Commission.
A federal jury in Orlando convicted Taylor today on nine counts of wire fraud.
He faces as much as 20 years in prison per count. His sentencing is set for Nov. 16.
“According to evidence presented at trial, during Taylor’s 2012 and 2014 reelection campaigns, he falsely reported thousands of dollars of expenditures to the State of Florida in order to conceal his misappropriation of over $60,000 in campaign funds through a series of unreported cash withdrawals, checks written to himself, and checks written to petty cash, in violation of Florida law. Taylor then used the misappropriated funds for personal expenditures unrelated to his re-election campaigns,” a news release from Muldrow’s office says.
Candidates are not allowed to use campaign donations for personal expenses other than “expenses actually incurred for transportation, meals, and lodging during travel in the course of the campaign.”
Taylor left the state House last year because of term limits, sunshinestatenews.com said.
His district spanned a section of Volusia County between DeLand and Daytona Beach.
Taylor lost in the Democratic primary for District 6 in Congress in 2016, according to the Palm Beach Post.
The FBI investigated his spending for his 2012 and 2014 reelection campaigns.
“It is disappointing that an elected official would exploit the generosity of his constituents to advance his personal lifestyle,” said Charles P. Spencer, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Jacksonville Division. “Corrupt public officials undermine the integrity of our government and violate the public’s trust, which is why combating public corruption remains the FBI’s top criminal priority.”
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Roger B. Handberg and Embry J. Kidd are prosecuting Taylor.

20170309_taylor_indictment_0

 

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Teen gang suspect gets 6 years for DeBary shooting

A 15-year-old Sanford gang suspect was sentenced this week to six years in prison for a shooting a DeBary man in a random attack last year.

Thallas “Thump” Inman entered a guilty plea to a charge of attempted murder on Monday, according to Volusia County Courthouse records.

The September shooting in the Parkview Heights subdivision sent the victim to the hospital and left him with a limp. The attack on Pine Springs Drive happened sometime before 5:15 a.m. September 22, 2016.

Inman, who was 14 at the time of the attack, remains held without bond at the Volusia County Branch Jail in Daytona Beach.

He was also given credit for the 287 days he has already spent behind bars.

The victim, Kirk Thomas, told investigators he was about to leave for work when a vehicle pulled up behind him in the driveway and an armed suspect got out.

Thomas said he charged at the suspect when he realized he was armed.

Thomas later told reporters he was shot three times. He ran to a neighbor’s home and banged on their front door seeking help, according to an arrest report. Neighbors rushed to help.

The suspects drove away, prompting a search and investigation by the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office.

At one point in the investigation, an acquaintance of Inman told investigators that Inman and two other alleged gang members had originally intended to rob a drug dealer, according to an Orlando Sentinel report.

But the drug dealer didn’t show up as planned.

So the suspects decided to find another victim, a report said.

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Clay Curtsinger case: Drop DeBary man’s murder charge, attorney says

Charges against a DeBary man accused of murder should be dropped, his attorney argued in paperwork filed in Orlando this week.

Clay Curtsinger, 47, is accused of gunning down his girlfriend’s ex-husband in a neighborhood near the Orlando International Airport last month.

Curtsinger initially told investigators he fatally shot Jack Radke on Budworth Circle in self-defense.

Deputies found Curtsinger’s gun but no firearm was found with Radke.

Curtsinger’s attorney, David R. Damore of Daytona Beach, filed a two-page motion to dismiss the case on Thursday (August 17). The attorney raised eight reasons for dismissal, including  “facts that support the Defendant’s immunity from prosecution.”

Damore filed other motions, including one aimed at tossing Curtsinger’s statements to investigators.

Curtsinger gunned down Radke, 48, with a Taurus 9mm handgun at roughly 6:30 p.m. Friday (July 7) on Budworth Circle in the Eagle Creek subdivision in the Lake Nona area, his arrest affidavit states.

Curtsinger, while driving a white Dodge Ram pickup truck, pulled next to a white Ford van and immediately shot Radke, the affidavit said.

Curtsinger told 911 callers he shot Radke because he pulled a gun on him and was defending himself, the report says.

He was originally accused of first-degree murder. The Orange-Osceola State Attorney’s Office officially charged Curtsinger with second-degree murder.

People convicted of second-degree murder in Florida are not eligible for the death penalty. The maximum sentence for that crime is life in prison.

Curtsinger remains jailed without bond at the Orange Couty Jail.

Records show he’s entered a written plea of not guilty.

A pretrial conference in the case is set for Oct. 17.

Seven spent shell casings and the 9mm were found inside Curtsinger’s pickup truck. Radke was shot six times.

Radke’s ex-wife, Carla Radke, said they got divorced about four years ago, officials said.

She said she recently developed a relationship with Curtsinger, an old boyfriend, and they opened a joint checking account.

She said Curtsinger was at her house pressure washing her house before the shooting.

curtsinger motion to dismiss

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DeBary vandalism: Genuine Bistro savors support after window smashing

At first, the reaction in DeBary was outrage and surprise.

But the community quickly rallied behind  Genuine Bistro, offering cash and other forms of support after vandals smashed a window at the popular restaurant on U.S. Highway 17-92.

Then it took another positive turn when Genuine Bistro owner Olexiy Kuzmin proposed using the cash donations for another residents’ effort to help feed the needy.

The support surfaced Sunday as word spread about the as-yet-unsolved vandalism at 2 S. Charles Richard Beall Blvd. from the pro-community Facebook page DeBary Proud. Tipsters can contact authorities through these links or by calling 1-888-277-TIPS.

“I am so sorry this happened, what a disgrace, ” Vickii Davies-De Marco said in a post Saturday shortly after the crime was announced.

One Facebook user, Denise Glickler, was so moved, she set up a GoFundMe page to raise donations to help Kuzmin pay for repairs.

He thanked Glickler but asked her to close the fund-raising site.

“Our customers (have)  been very loyal and supportive to us for years and I really don’t think it’s necessary. I really appreciate it,” he wrote. “But I really don’t feel like (collecting) money from people for our building issues. I am still DeBaryProud and I know that a lot of people in our community have more problems (than) our broken window. Thank you so much for your support again.”

By the time she got the message, more than $140 had been raised toward the fund’s goal of $500.

“Greg Runge will receive this check for his new project of feeding homeless people in our area,” Kuzmin said in another post.

Kuzmin posted video from security cameras showing possible suspects but the images don’t reveal many details. Facebook responders posted theories about who was responsible.

“There are 2 boys that run the street constantly with no supervision,” said Keri Kay. “The one is super skinny and taller the other shorter and a little thicker. .. The VCSO knows them very well…”

Meanwhile, other Facebook posters offered comforting words and introspective thoughts.

“This is not a reflection of DeBary, nor the times we live in,” Vera Rekstad said. “This is sadly the perpetual dark and ugly side of human nature which exists everywhere on earth and in all times since the beginning of history. We must overcome it and counter it with good. It’s great to see so much positive support for our friends and neighbors.”

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‘Scumbags’ in DeBary elder crimes tracked down in N.C., Sheriff says

A woman accused of stealing her elderly DeBary grandparents’ Toyota Corolla and two alleged accomplices were tracked down in North Carolina today, deputies said.

Mary Hall and two men — both suspects in other DeBary crimes – were stopped in the stolen vehicle in North Carolina amid Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood’s ongoing “Scumbags of the Week” campaign.

They ripped off Hall’s grandparents, Chitwood said.  Hall and Albert Blackburn II were arrested. Matthew Hall ran and remained on the loose early Friday evening.

The Halls used to be married, according to WESH Channel 2.

“All three are suspects in an elderly exploitation case in DeBary, where an 81-year-old woman and her 91-year-old husband were victimized and intimidated to the point that they were unable to buy medication or pay their bills,” Sheriff’s Office spokesman Andrew Gant said in an email.

Chitwood called the men “Scumbags” on Thursday, generating media coverage and an anonymous tip that led authorities to the trio.

Matthew Hall and Blackburn are also accused in a burglary/dealing in stolen property case in the same DeBary neighborhood, Gant said.

“The trio was riding in the stolen Corolla when police conducted a traffic stop on them in North Carolina,” Gant added. “Matthew Hall took off running and is still being sought. Blackburn was arrested on his outstanding Volusia County warrant and Mary Hall was charged with auto theft as she was in possession of a stolen vehicle.”

 The case is active and other charges are pending.

“The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office extends its sincere appreciation to the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office, St. Pauls Police Department and every person who submits a tip or clicks “share” on the VCSO’s SCUMBAGS of the Week,” Gant’s statement added.
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