100 arrested in Fort Pierce drug sting
A five-day concentrated narcotics enforcement operation in northern Fort Pierce netted 100 arrests of street-level drug dealers and would-be purchasers Feb. 20-24.
The Special Investigations Unit of the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office joined forces with the Crime Suppression Unit of the Fort Pierce Police Department for Operation Crackdown, with the assistance of undercover officers from the Okeechobee County Sheriff's Office and Port St. Lucie Police Department.
Officers and deputies seized eight vehicles that were used in the commission of crimes and will be retained by law enforcement. In addition, more than $1,500 in cash was seized, as well as crack cocaine, powdered cocaine, marijuana, ecstasy and other drugs with an estimated street value of more than $3,700.
Of those arrested, nine were already being sought on arrest warrants. The total number of criminal charges for the entire operation was 212, of which 161 were drug-related and the other 51 were for charges such as weapons possession, fleeing police, evidence tampering and resisting arrest.
During the operation, drug agents posed as drug dealers in order to catch would-be drug buyers, as well as posed as drug purchasers to catch drug dealers.
Plane's landing gear collapses
A strong right crosswind blowing while a Piper Pace single-engine plane was touching down at St. Lucie County International Airport is to blame for a minor aircraft accident Feb. 23, according to a police report.
Responding to the crosswind, Pilot David Edgerly told investigators he applied full right brake, but the aircraft continued turning left, causing a sideload on the right main landing gear.
The gear collapsed and the aircraft spun before coming to a rest.
Mr. Edgerly and his passenger were not injured.
Man charged in shooting
A Fort Pierce man was charged Feb. 27 with shooting a man in the stomach earlier in the month in a wooded area near Rotary Park.
Lenroy Hayes Jr., 28, of 312 North Eighth Street, was charged with attempted murder for shooting 42-year-old McKinley Parker of Fort Pierce Feb. 4, according to an arrest affidavit.
Mr. Parker told police that he rode in a white Chevy with two men, "Red" and "Pete" to do drugs. "Red," aka Mr. Hayes, pretended he was about to smoke with both men, when he said, "Why you snitching, man?" then pulled out a handgun and shot Mr. Parker in the stomach, the man told police.
Mr. Parker then ran to a nearby Walgreens, bloody and yelling for help before collapsing on the floor.
"Pete," aka Gottrell Brundage, told police he and Mr. Parker were smoking crack while Mr. Hayes smoked marijuana outside of the car near the woods. That's where he said Mr. Hayes shot Mr. Parker, according to the police report. Mr. Hayes and Mr. Brundage got back in the car, and Mr. Brundage said he jumped out at North 10th Street and Orange Avenue because he thought Mr. Hayes was going to shoot him too.
Ash, smoke from Okeechobee fire seen in St. Lucie County
St. Lucie County 911 dispatch fielded numerous calls last week from residents who smelled smoke and saw ash falling.
The cause was a wildfire 80 miles away near the town of Moore Haven on the east side of Lake Okeechobee. The fire burned more than 30,000 acres on Feb. 26 and 27.
Sheriff's office investigates murder-suicide
St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office deputies investigated a murder-suicide last week in western St. Lucie County.
The incident happened Feb. 28, at a rented home on Carlton Road. It was home to Raymond Derienzo Jr., 38, who deputies believe shot his wife, Dawn Derienzo, 36, before turning the gun on himself.
According to the report from the sheriff's office, the estranged couple was seen arguing outside the home just before 8 a.m. Shortly after that, a neighbor reported hearing four gunshots in rapid succession, followed by a short pause and then another shot.
Deputies found a handgun near Mr. Derienzo's body and it is believed it was used in the shooting.
The couple leaves behind three children.
Students arrested for tampering with milk
Two students at Bayshore Elementary School were arrested last week after a blue pill was found in a classmate's milk.
Soilin Rosario, 12, of 2546 S.W. Darmron St., and Andrea Guadalupe Fuentes, 11, of 766 S.W. Duxbury Ave., both in Port St. Lucie, were arrested Feb. 28, and each charged with tampering with a consumer product, which is a first-degree felony.
According to the Port St. Lucie Police Department, the incident happened on Feb. 21, while the girls were at lunch. Soilin found a Tylenol PM pill on the bus and later told Andrea to put the pill in another girl's milk.
The two chose a student the two do not like, the police said.
The victim, 10, found the pill partially dissolved in the bottom of her milk carton and immediately told school officials.
Soilin and Andrea were identified by other students as the ones who schemed to put the pill in the other girl's milk.
The victim was later treated and released from a local hospital. The two girls arrested were later released to their parents.
They will be suspended from school for 10 days and face expulsion.
Following the incident, Port St. Lucie Police DARE officers spoke to students about the dangers of all types of drugs.
Crime statistics go up for city
Crime statistics for 2006 released last week by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement showed a nearly 31 percent increase in crime in Port St. Lucie.
A significant change was seen in the city's homicide rate, which went up 600 percent from 2005. There were seven homicides in the city last year. The jump included the four members of the Escobedo family killed along the Florida Turnpike in 2006.
There was one murder in the city in 2005.
Another area the city saw an increase in crime was in burglaries. There were 1,065 burglaries, or a 38 percent increase from 2005.
Also last year, there were 7,659 adults and juveniles arrested in the city for various crimes.