Second Pedestrian Killed In Leesburg Thursday

LEESBURG, Florida—Another pedestrian was killed Thursday in Leesburg, unrelated to the crash that killed a man early Thursday morning, according to Leesburg Police Capt. Joe Iozzi.  

Jarret Roque, 40, of Howey-in-the-Hills, was observed by an independent witness standing in the center travel lane of U.S. Highway 441 just north of County Road 44A, around 11:50 p.m. Thursday, Iozzi said in a press release. Awilda Hernandez, 61, of Eustis, was southbound on U.S. Highway 441 in a 2021 Jeep SUV, when she collided with Roque.

Roque suffered life-threatening injuries and was transported by Lake EMS to UF Health-Leesburg, where he was pronounced dead. The crash closed U.S. Highway 441 southbound for about three hours.

“The crash remains under investigation, by the Leesburg Police Department Traffic Unit, however it appears the pedestrian was “at-fault” at this time,” Iozzi said. 

Motorcyclist Dies Following Monday Crash In Leesburg

LEESBURG, Florida—A motorcyclist has died following a crash Monday morning in Leesburg.

Tony Sammons, 52, of Wildwood was traveling north on U.S. Highway 27 shortly before 10:45 a.m. Monday when he collided with a 2017 Buick SUV being driven by 79-year-old Nancy Mitchell of Summerfield.

Mitchell was southbound on U.S. Highway 27 and attempted to make a left turn onto Citizens Boulevard when Sammons, who was riding a 2004 Harley Davidson motorcycle, struck the passenger side of the SUV as she made her turn, Leesburg Police Capt. Joe Iozzi said in a press release.

Sammons sustained serious injuries and was transported by air to Ocala Regional Medical Center, where he died Thursday.

The crash remains under investigation, Iozzi said.  

Leesburg Pedestrian Killed Thursday Morning

LEESBURG, Florida—Leesburg Police Department is investigating a crash that killed a pedestrian early Thursday morning, according to a press release.

The pedestrian, a 48-year old white male, was on a sidewalk when he suddenly entered the westbound lanes of South Street, near Bottle Brush Court, diverting traffic for about three hours, LPD Capt. Joe Iozzi said in the release. He collided with a 2011 Chevrolet Colorado being driven by 61-year-old Frederick Fashaw, of Eustis just before 1:15 a.m. and sustained life-threatening injuries.

The man who has not been identified publicly, pending notification of next of kin, was transported by Lake EMS to UF Health-Leesburg, where he was pronounced dead. Fashaw was not injured.

“The crash remains under investigation by the Leesburg Police Department Traffic Unit, however it appears the pedestrian was “at-fault” at this time,” Iozzi said.

Scheduled Holiday Closings And Modified Garbage Pickup

LAKE COUNTY, Florida—Many local government offices are scheduled to close this week in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday.

Lake County Government offices will be closed Thursday and Friday and county garbage pickup regularly scheduled for Thursday will be Friday and regularly scheduled pickup for Friday will be Saturday. This includes Altoona, Astor, Ferndale, Grand Island, Okahumpka, Paisley, Sorrento and Yalaha. For more information, visit  https://lakecountyfl.gov/trash-recycling.

Most city government and town halls will be closed Thursday and Friday; this includes Clermont, Eustis, Fruitland Park, Groveland, Howey-In-The-Hills, Leesburg, Mascotte, Mount Dora, Tavares and Umatilla. Astatula, Lady Lake and Minneola are scheduled to close just on Thursday. Aligning with the county garbage pickup modified schedule; garbage pickup for Thursday will be Friday and pickup for Friday will be Saturday for most cities, except Lady Lake, Leesburg and Tavares.

Lady Lake’s and Leesburg’s garbage pickup will resume Monday and Tavares will resume Tuesday. 

Head-On Crash Sends Leesburg Man To Hospital, Kills Woman, Injures Another

VOLUSIA, COUNTY, Florida—A head-crash killed a DeLand woman and sent two people to the hospital, including a Leesburg man, shortly after 7:15 a.m. Sunday, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

The 26-year-old Leesburg man and his 26-year-old passenger of DeLand were southbound in an SUV on North Kepler Road near Periwinkle Avenue when he traveled into the northbound lanes and struck another SUV head-on, killing a 47-year-old DeLand woman; she was wearing her seatbelt. FHP Lt. Kim Montes said in a press release.  

The Leesburg man and his passenger were not wearing their seatbelts and were transported to Halifax Medical Center with serious injuries. The crash remains under investigation and FHP is asking for witnesses to contact them, Montes said. 

Drug Trafficker Pleads Guilty, Sentenced To 25 Years In Federal Prison

OCALA, Florida— The head of a major drug trafficking organization who was busted earlier this year was sentenced this week to 25 years in federal prison, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Devonne L. Walker, 36, of Lady Lake pleaded guilty in July to conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance a little over a month after being arrested in Leesburg by Lake County Sheriff’s Office deputies on June 25, 2021. He was sentenced Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Roy B. Dalton Jr. in Ocala federal court.

At the time of his arrest, Walker was found to be in possession of a stolen firearm, more than 260 grams of methamphetamine, more than 80 grams of fentanyl and a small amount of cocaine and marijuana.  

The evidence presented at Walker’s sentencing showed he was the leader and organizer of a Lake County drug conspiracy that imported more than 100 kilograms of methamphetamine, 50 kilograms of both marijuana and cocaine and 1 kilogram of heroin between 2018 and 2019. Walker organized his accomplices in Phoenix, Arizona to ship the drugs to Florida and Walker would then distribute the dope to other dealers in Central Florida.

Two of Walker’s co-conspirators have also pleaded guilty and are awaiting their sentences. A third person has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to go to trial January 2022.

The investigation was conducted by numerous agencies, including LCSO, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA,) the U.S. Postal Service Inspection Service, Homeland Security Investigations and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and prosecuted by Assistant United State Attorney Michael P. Felicetta. 

Woman Finds Man Sawing Off Her Catalytic Converter Outside Leesburg Mall

LEESBURG, Florida—A former police car probably was not the best choice of transportation for a man accused of trying to saw a catalytic converter off a Ram pickup truck in the parking lot of Lake Square Mall Wednesday.

The victim left the mall after doing some shopping shortly after 5 p.m. and heard a cutting sound as she approached her truck, the arrest affidavit states. She walked up to the passenger side and found a man, later identified as Garrett Dalton Heiserman, 23, underneath her truck. She told Heiserman to stop and he crawled from underneath the truck holding a blue reciprocating saw. Heiserman was unsuccessful in removing either of the catalytic converters, but the passenger side catalytic converter did have saw marks, the arresting officer noted. The oxygen sensor’s wires were also damaged by the saw, and the victim’s boyfriend said it would be about $1,000 to repair. Catalytic converters are expensive to replace as well.   

“A catalytic converter replacement can cost approximately $1,500,” said Carl Fowler, owner of The Car Doctor Automotive Specialist Inc., in Eustis.

PHOTO CREDIT: Lake County Sheriff’s Office

The victim started to call police and attempted to take photos of Heiserman and his vehicle as he left the scene but after calling 9-1-1, she found that she did not have any photos, according to the affidavit. The victim told Leesburg Police Heiserman’s vehicle, a white Chevrolet Impala, with a spotlight and possibly a former patrol car, was familiar to her and she called her boyfriend who told her Heiserman’s name and said he lives just a few blocks from them in the Bassville Park area. LPD was able to lift several visible fingerprints from the truck.

The following day, the victim spotted Heiserman in the parking lot of a hotel near the Lake Square Mall and called police. LPD officers found the Impala with faded police markings and detained the driver. The victim identified Heiserman as the suspect and he was taken into custody. Heiserman was questioned by police and he admitted to attempting to steal the catalytic converter and/or the oxygen sensor.

Police turned the vehicle over to Heiserman’s girlfriend and the Department of Children and Families was called to conduct a separate investigation into possible drug use in front of juveniles, according to the affidavit. Police searched Heiserman’s hotel room and found the blue reciprocating saw, in addition to a small amount of methamphetamine and a digital scale. He was arrested for grand theft, possession of burglary tools, loitering and prowling, possession of methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was released Saturday on $5,500 bond.

Heiserman was arrested for domestic battery in April by Eustis Police Department after being accused of aggressively braking and knocking a woman from a vehicle, but that charge was dropped in June. 

Coworker Tells Police Man Threatened Him With Makeshift Hatchet

LEESBURG, Florida—A man with a history of threatening people is back in the Lake County Jail, this time accused of threatening a man at his former job with a makeshift hatchet.

Leesburg Police responded to a business on Thomas Avenue on a weapons complaint shortly before 9:45 a.m. Monday. The victim told LPD when he arrived at work, he found Preston Wade Greenlee, 50, of Fruitland Park inside the building. Greenlee is a former employee, but had been terminated around 10 years ago, according to the arrest affidavit.

The victim said Greenlee spoke to him, but he kept the conversation minimal due to believing Greenlee was under the influence of drugs; the victim went into the business office and when he came out, Greenlee was outside the side entrance yelling at him.

Greenlee then came back inside and approached the victim aggressively while holding a wooden stick with a blade attached, the affidavit states. Greenlee cursed at the victim and called him the devil and when the victim tried to separate himself from Greenlee, he raised the makeshift hatchet above his head and demanded the victim fight him.

The victim told Greenlee to leave and Greenlee fell to his knees and told the victim he loved him. The victim told Greenlee police were on the way and Greenlee fled the area northbound. A witness and a video corroborated the victim’s statements to police.

Greenlee was taken into custody and arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He is being held in the Lake County Jail on $7,500 bond.

Greenlee was arrested earlier this year in Fruitland Park on the same charge for allegedly yelling religious chants at a pair of brothers and threatening them with a machete. The charge was later dropped. 

Leesburg Chili Cook-off Sat, November 6, 2021

City of Leesburg 501 W Meadow St, Leesburg, FL, 34748

Chili Cook‑Off competition 4:30pm-10:00pm. Enjoy an all you can eat event for only $10.00. A cash Bar and live Entertainment, will also be available. Presented by the Leesburg downtown Business Association. For more information go to https://festivalnet.com/66199/Leesburg-Florida/Food-Festivals/Chili-Cook-Off.

Fruitland Park Man Facing Molestation Charge After Girl Comes Forward

LEESBURG, Florida—A Fruitland Park man was arrested on a warrant for lewd and lascivious molestation Friday after a girl came forward and told about the abuse she suffered more than three years ago, according to a probable cause affidavit.

In early October, the victim told a Leesburg Police Officer, David Carl Hall, 50, put his hands between her legs while she shared a bed with him and two other people whose names are redacted from the affidavit, 3.5 years ago.  The victim, whose exact age is also redacted, was under 12 when the molestation is alleged to have occurred. She told police she would wake up with Hall’s hands between her legs and he would tell her he was checking to see if she urinated, the affidavit states. The victim asked her mom when she stopped “peeing in the bed” and was told she never had that problem, the victim told police.

The victim said she felt very uncomfortable on the numerous occasions Hall is alleged to have touched her and had thoughts of suicide due to the trauma, feelings of frustration and issues with girls at school.

A warrant was issued for Hall’s arrest Oct. 22 and he was picked up Friday by Fruitland Park Police Department. He was transported to the Lake County Jail, where he was released on $10,000 bond. 

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