Fruitland Park

State Attorney Creates Animal Cruelty Task Force

OCALA, Florida—In an effort to streamline delivering justice to those who hurt animals, State Attorney Bill Gladson has created an Animal Cruelty Task Force for the Fifth Judicial Circuit that includes Lake, Citrus, Hernando, Marion and Sumter counties, his office said in a press release last week.

The task force includes the Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC,) county animal services, and local law enforcement agencies and the goal is for law enforcement, animal services and animal protection organizations to work together to investigate and prosecute animal cruelty crimes throughout the circuit, according to the press release.

State Attorney Bill Gladson PHOTO: Florida Bar

“My office is committed to aggressively prosecuting animal cruelty cases, and I am grateful for the team which shares our commitment,” Gladson stated. “The reach of these crimes goes beyond harm to innocent animals; these criminals pose a risk to the entire community.”

Animal abusers are five times more likely to commit violent crimes against people, according to the Animal Legal Defense Fund, nearly 70 percent have criminal records.

Windchills in the 20s and 30s Expected this Weekend, Cold Weather Shelters Activated

LAKE COUNTY, Florida—For the second time in less than a month, Lake County is scheduled to open two cold weather shelter locations in anticipation of this weekend’s near-freezing temperatures.

Both locations open Friday; Trinity Assembly of God, 200 Urick Street, Fruitland Park will open at 5:30 p.m. and remain open through 7 a.m. each day, Friday through Sunday, and LifePointe Church, 3551 East Orange Avenue will be open 5 p.m. through 8 a.m. each day through Sunday, according to Lake County Emergency Management.

A warming shelter will also be open from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the Salvation Army, 2605 South Street, Leesburg,  

Lake Xpress will provide free transportation to cold weather shelters for those who need assistance traveling to a shelter. Schedules are available on Lake Xpress’ website. Residents who do not have access to a Lake Xpress fixed route must call 352-742-2612 to arrange transportation.

Friday night, cold temperatures and breezy winds will bring windchills in the upper 20s to lower 30s. A Wind Chill Advisory has been issued for east Central Florida, according to the U.S. National Weather Service, Melbourne.

Christmas Carjacking and Crash Into Blueberry Field Ends in a Trip to Jail

FRUITLAND PARK, Florida—A homeless man is accused of carjacking a taxi driver, crashing the car into a blueberry field and spitting on a firefighter’s boot Christmas night, according to an arrest affidavit.

A taxi driver received a call from staff at UF Health Leesburg Hospital to pick up Troy Ravin Yar, 23, who is listed as homeless, to transport him to a cold weather shelter around 6 p.m., the affidavit states.

As the pair drove to Fruitland Park, Yar struck the victim in the right side of his neck with his fist and said, “Get the (expletive) out, I’m going to (expletive) kill you,” near the intersection of Urick Street and Thomas Avenue, the victim told Fruitland Park Police Department. Trinity Assembly of God, 200 Urick Street, Fruitland Park, was the county’s only 24-hour cold weather shelter during the weekend’s “Arctic Blast.”

The victim exited the vehicle fearing Yar had a knife to his neck, he told police, and the victim had a large gash on the side of his neck, the arresting FPPD officer noted in the affidavit. Yar then took the vehicle and crashed in a nearby blueberry field and fled the scene. He was apprehended a short time later on County Road 468.

Yar told police he took the car because he wanted to see his brother; he then complained of knee pain and Lake County Fire Rescue responded to evaluate Yar. When they arrived, Yar allegedly said, “(Expletive) you, I’ll walk to the hospital,” and spit in the direction of a firefighter. The saliva landed on the firefighter’s boot.

Yar was arrested for carjacking, battery on a firefighter and leaving the scene of a crash involving damage. He is being held in the Lake County Jail on $30,500.

Tree Service Owner Picked Up on Warrant for Pilfering Packages from Customer in October

LEESBURG, Florida—The owner of a tree service company was caught on camera stealing packages from one of his customers, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Robert Wayne Williams, owner of Tree Life Services, was captured on surveillance video Oct. 29 stealing two Amazon packages from the victim who had hired Williams to do tree work on her Leesburg property, she told the Lake County Sheriff’s Office.

The case was turned over to an LCSO detective, who viewed the video and was able to identify Williams from past encounters, the affidavit states. Williams, 48, of Leesburg, is seen exiting his white Ford truck, walking up to the victim’s porch and grabbing two packages containing jeans and shoes, valued at more than $120.

The detective made attempts to interview Williams, but “met with negative results due to Williams having an active warrant out of Marion County,” he stated in the affidavit.

Robert Wayne Williams PHOTO: Lake County Sheriff’s Office

Officers from Fruitland Park Police Department attempted to pull Williams over Dec. 2, when officers spotted him at a Fruitland Park gas station, but he fled the stop and was later arrested by Leesburg Police Department. He was arrested for fleeing and eluding, in addition to petit theft and burglary in the Lake County case, and on warrants for three counts of burglary, two counts of grand theft auto, two counts of possession burglary tools, criminal mischief and grand theft from Marion County.

He was released from the Lake County Jail on $33,500 bond and is scheduled to appear in Lake County court Tuesday.

“Arctic Blast” Arrives Just in Time for Christmas, Cold Weather Shelters to be Activated

LAKE COUNTY, Florida—In anticipation of this weekend’s chilly weather, Lake County will open two cold weather shelter locations Friday afternoon.

Both locations will open at 5:30 p.m. Friday; Trinity Assembly of God, 200 Urick Street, Fruitland Park will stay open 24 hours a day through Tuesday, and LifePointe Church, 3551 East Orange Avenue will be open 5:30 p.m. through 8 a.m. each day until Tuesday, according to Lake County Emergency Management.

A warming shelter will also be open from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday through Tuesday at the Salvation Army, 2605 South Street, Leesburg,  

Lake Xpress will provide free transportation to cold weather shelters for those who need assistance traveling to a shelter Saturday and Sunday. Schedules are available on Lake Xpress’ website.

Residents who do not have access to a Lake Xpress fixed route must call 352-742-2612 by 1 p.m. Friday to arrange transportation. Clermont Police Department will check for those in need at Florida Citrus Tower, 141 South U.S. Highway 27, Clermont between 4:30 p.m. and 4:45 p.m. Friday; if no one is on site, a bus will not be dispatched, according to officials.

According to the U.S. National Weather Service Melbourne, temperatures are expected to be at or below freezing with the wind chill in the 20s in Lake County. Officials are urging residents to make sure pets have a warm place to stay with plenty of food and water, cover exposed pipes, and cover or in bring in sensitive plants.

GRAPHIC: U.S. National Weather Service Melbourne

Eustis Teenager Accused of Shooting Father and Son at Fruitland Park Apartment Complex

FRUITLAND PARK, Florida—A teenager is facing a slew of charges in connection with a shooting that occurred in a busy apartment complex Thursday.

Sincere D. Chambliss, 17, of Eustis, is accused of shooting a 22-year-old man and his 48-year-old father during an altercation about the younger man’s girlfriend at Spring Lake Cove Apartments in Fruitland Park around 5 p.m. The 22-year-old man was shot in the leg and was airlifted to Ocala Regional Medical Center, and his father was grazed in the chest; both men were treated for their injuries and released from the hospital.

The 22-year-old victim told police Chambliss had been making sexual advances toward his girlfriend and he messaged Chambliss and told him to stop, but Chambliss continued and made statements about fighting the victim, according to an arrest affidavit.

Later, the victim went to his vehicle and Chambliss was outside and began provoking him and the victim approached Chambliss, who he did not know was armed, and Chambliss allegedly shot him, striking him in the left thigh. The victim’s father approached, and Chambliss allegedly fired a second shot, grazing the 48-year-old man in the chest.

Chambliss and another man fled into a nearby apartment and when Fruitland Park Police Department arrived, they commanded the pair to exit the apartment. A 20-year-old man did exit the apartment; Inside Lake is not naming him because he was not charged with a crime. Chambliss refused to exit and began barricading himself in the apartment, but finally surrendered and was taken into custody. Police secured a search warrant for the residence and found a stolen Smith & Wesson M&P 45.

Chambliss gave police a false name but was later positively identified and arrested for two counts of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, grand theft of a firearm, possession of a firearm by a minor, discharging a firearm on residential property, giving a false name to a law enforcement officer and resisting an officer without violence.

He was also wanted by Leesburg Police Department on multiple warrants for carrying a concealed firearm, possession of a weapon by a minor, giving a false name to a law enforcement officer and resisting an officer without violence, stemming from an incident in July. He was turned over to the Department of Juvenile Justice.

Tavares Police and LCSO Join Forces for Operation Aware

Operation Aware will provide wristbands and a database for first responders and the special needs community.

TAVARES, Florida—Two law enforcement agencies have joined forces to provide a new tool to the community that will give first responders valuable information when responding to calls for service in the special needs community.

Nearly a year in the making, Tavares Police Department began its Operation Aware initiative in November 2021 and has since teamed up with the Lake County Sheriff’s Office to provide wristbands to members of the community that may require a different response from law enforcement.

“We are big on community policing,” TPD Public Information Officer Courtney Sullivan told Inside Lake last year. “There are always ways we can be better,” she said, “and there are always opportunities for the community to teach us how to better serve them.”

Operation Aware is a “total approach” to the issues facing the special needs community and will provide education, outreach and follow up,” Sullivan said.

Newly-appointed Tavares Police Chief Sarah Coursey worked with Sullivan to get this program up and running. “Operation Aware is near and dear to my heart; it gives us the opportunity to serve our community in a unique way when our response requires a different approach,” Coursey told Inside Lake.

The wristbands are available for community members who have intellectual and developmental disorders, including, but not limited to, autism, dementia. PTSD and Alzheimer’s, according to Sullivan. Loved ones and caregivers are encouraged to reach out to TPD or LCSO and register special needs individuals to get them a wristband and enter them into the database.  

The bright blue wristbands will immediately let law enforcement officers know they are interacting with an individual with special needs, and provide them with vital information including names, addresses, emergency contacts and medical conditions. Officers and dispatchers will have access to the information and individual addresses will be flagged so the officer is aware of any special circumstances before they arrive to the call. Officers will know if the individual is non-verbal, has a sensitivity to lights and sirens and any other pertinent information that would be helpful to officers. They will also help reunification by giving officers and deputies information immediately that can be shared with media outlets and on social media, Sullivan said.  

The wristbands will also be a tool for the public; they will have a number and a QR code that can be scanned and will inform the public to call 9-1-1. The wristband never needs to be charged.    To register, please visit https://tavares.org/1327/Operation-Aware or https://lcso.org/oa/

Woman Turns Herself In for Killing Relative, Held on No Bond

FRUITLAND PARK, Florida—A woman is being held in the Lake County Jail on a charge of second-degree murder after killing a male relative, due to a “longstanding grudge,” according to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office.

Jesse James McParlin, 39, was walking down Pine Street in unincorporated Fruitland Park around 10:20 a.m. Saturday, when the woman saw him, according to LCSO Lt. John Herrell.

She began yelling at him and chased him down the street and shot him with a handgun, witnesses told LCSO. Detectives later learned there was a longstanding grudge between the two, Herrell said.

McParlin went to his home on Pine Street to get help and an unidentified male attempted to take him to the hospital, but he died near Calvary Baptist Church on Eagles Nest Road.

The shooter turned herself in to LCJ Saturday night and is being held on no bond. Her name is not being released because she may be the victim of a sex crime.

The is the sixth homicide in Lake County since Aug. 25.

LCSO Sergeant Paid Prostitute $80 for Trysts, Unsealed Court Documents Reveal

TAVARES, Florida—A Lake County Sheriff’s Office sergeant arrested last month for soliciting prostitution paid the person $80 per encounter, according to a probable cause affidavit unsealed by County Judge Sarah Jones earlier this month.

LCSO was tipped off to Sgt. Scott Stone’s activities by a woman who told an LCSO captain and a detective her friend of four years confided in her that a “Sgt. Stone” with LCSO was paying the friend to have sex with him in public places. The friend is not named in the affidavit and is referred to as he/she or “the source” throughout the affidavit. Inside Lake will be referring to this person as “the source” for the remainder of this article.

After conducting surveillance on the source, the captain and detective approached the source at a store and conducted an interview. The source said the pair met on a domestic dispute call and exchanged numbers in June 2021. Within two days Stone sent the source a photo of him standing in front of a mirror completely nude, according to the affidavit.

The source did not send a return photo and said about a day later Stone contacted the source to hang out. The source agreed and Stone picked the source up in his personal vehicle. Stone asked the source if they were interested in sex and the source agreed. The source asked where at Stone reportedly replied Home Depot and they stopped at Circle K at the corner of County Road 44 and County Road 473 and Stone made a withdrawal from the ATM.  

The couple went to Home Depot and proceeded to have unprotected oral sex and intercourse, according to the affidavit. Stone then paid the source $80.

In January Stone again contacted the source and the pair met at Walgreens, 11101 U.S. Highway 441 and attempted intercourse. Again, Stone paid $80. Later in January, Stone met the source at an abandoned home in Leesburg while on duty; the home was outside his assigned sector. The source said Stone was in full uniform and parked his marked patrol unit behind the home. The pair touched each other, and Stone did not remove his uniform, and told the source he was nervous because he was on duty.

Stone was interviewed in late April and admitted having sex with the source but denied paying for it. He was asked if he had phone conversations with any known criminals or prostitutes and he reportedly said, “to his knowledge nothing he wouldn’t be afraid Jesus would see.” Investigators found text messages between Stone and the source.

Stone: When is the last time you had sex?

Source: Last night.

Stone: That’s really hot!! For pay?

Source: I have not showered yet but was gonna bath (sic) but I can wait just for you.

Source: Yes.

Source: I have bills.

Stone: Ugh. That’s SO SO HOT!!

A warrant was issued for Stone’s arrest in July and Stone, a 17-year veteran of LCSO turned himself in to the Lake County Jail, LCSO Lt. John Herrell said in a press release last month. He was released from LCJ on $1,000 bond. His next court date is scheduled for Sept. 12.

Stone is currently under internal investigation and is suspended without pay, LCSO Lt. Fred Jones said.  

Fire Knocks Out Power to Much of Leesburg, Full Restoration Hours Away

10:30 p.m. update: According to the City of Leesburg, two of the three distribution substations that were deenergized due to a lightning strike have been repaired and power in those areas has been restored. The third substation, where most of the damage occurred, is still being assessed. Downtown and nearby areas are still without power. Crews are working throughout the night to restore power as quickly and safely as possible.

LEESBURG, Florida—Leesburg Fire Department continues to battle a large fire Tuesday night at a Duke Energy electrical substation, 501 North Boulevard East near Cutrale, according to Leesburg Police Capt. Joe Iozzi.

“LFD is still working to contain the fire and estimates for repair are eight to 12 hours; but they still can’t verify the full extent of the damage at this time,” Iozzi told Inside Lake Tuesday night.

The fire has knocked out power for miles, from Citizens Boulevard to south Leesburg and throughout Sunnyside, Silver Lake and County Road 473, Iozzi said. The station is main feeder and controlled by Duke Energy and services a large area, Iozzi said. The city is pulling power from other grids and trying to restore as much as they can, as quickly as they can, he said.

LPD has called in multiple officers to patrol and work intersections and Iozzi is asking residents to stay in if they can. If you must go out, be aware of non-functioning traffic lights.

“We want to remind everyone that controlled intersections should be treated as a four-way stop if the lights are not functioning,” Iozzi stressed.

PHOTO: Lisa Comer/Facebook
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