Mount Dora

Lake County jury convicts man of shooting woman in Mount Dora last year

TAVARES, Fla.—A man accused of shooting a woman twice in Mount Dora last year was convicted by a Lake County jury Wednesday, according to the Fifth Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office.

In March 2023, Mount Dora Police Department responded to the 1500 block of Pine Avenue on a report of a shooting and when they arrived, they found a woman in a 2010 Nissan passenger vehicle suffering from two gunshot wounds. The victim told police “Jason,” later identified as Jason Jameel Ganga shot her while she was attempting to leave, and he was inside. There were two bullet holes through her driver’s side window, an affidavit in the case states.

MDPD found Ganga, who showed signs of alcohol intoxication, underneath a bed. Officers grabbed his legs and pulled him out, and as they pulled him out, they saw he was holding a .40 caliber semi-automatic Smith & Wesson handgun to his temple and actively pulling the trigger; the gun did not have a magazine. The gun was secured, and Ganga was taken into custody. He refused to cooperate with MDPD’s questioning and a search of the home revealed multiple firearms, including handguns and rifles, with ammunition scattered throughout the premises. He was arrested on multiple charges and has been held in the Lake County Jail since his arrest.

Ganga was found guilty of attempted second-degree murder, shooting into an occupied vehicle, and aggravated battery. He was represented by Spencer Rhodes of Orlando and prosecuted by Assistant State Attorneys Gabriel Lozano and Eddie Moffitt. He will be sentenced at a later date.

Previous story: Mount Dora Police Arrest Armed Man Accused of Shooting Woman Twice Sunday Night – Inside Lake

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FWC: License-free freshwater fishing this weekend

FLORIDA—The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is hosting a license-free freshwater fishing weekend Saturday and Sunday

Florida residents and visitors of all ages and skill levels are encouraged to try recreational fishing this weekend and FWC has helpful resources for new anglers to get started.

Largemouth bass are Florida’s most popular freshwater fish and if you catch one 8 pounds or heavier, submit it to TrophyCatch. There is a special promotion this season where pink-tagged bass are swimming and worth extra prizes in five waterbodies across the state. Try your luck and you could even win sunglasses just for fishing in these five waters!

All other rules, such as seasons, bag and size limits apply during license-free fishing weekend.

Keep the fun going all year and buy a recreational freshwater fishing license, to renew or purchase a fishing license, visit GoOutdoorsFlorida.com.

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Lake County Golden Triangle Rotary awards scholarships for 2024-25 school year

MOUNT DORA—The Rotary Club of Lake County Golden Triangle awarded $26,000 in scholarships to 13 central Florida residents who are pursuing higher education degrees in the 2024-25 academic year.

The awards are based on criteria including scholastic ability, responsibility toward education and financial need with a special emphasis on community service

Morris W. Dunbar established a Nursing Scholarship in honor of his wife. The recipient is Reyna Green, a Mount Dora High School graduate, studying at the University of South Florida.

The Richard Earhart Endowment provides a scholarship to students from Mount Dora. The recipient is Kari Martinez, a Mount Dora High School graduate attending Advent Health University.

The Norma Jean Schloot Endowment funds a scholarship for students in education and agriculture. It is awarded to Hunter Taylor, a Eustis High School graduate studying at the University of Florida (UF.)

The Bill Bland Rotary Scholarship Fund helps students in finance and business, law enforcement, agriculture and technical training. College students receiving scholarships are Alysia Fritzke, University of Central Florida (UCF) and Shelby Mulholland, UF.

Eight graduating seniors also received Bland scholarships: Eustis High School graduates Reagan Baker, Auburn University; Aeyden Bedard, Florida State University and Sierra Funderburk, UCF. Mount Dora High School graduates Alex Mancilla, Lake Technical College (LTC); Trinity Mathie, UCF and Marissa Williams at LTC; Mount Dora Christian Academy graduate Bryan Schutte, Florida Institute of Technology and Hampton Dubose Academy graduate Shepard Smith, Brigham Young University.

The club funded scholarship was awarded to Paris Chambliss, a computer animation major at Ringling College of Art and Design.

“Rotary enjoys supporting our local students. Not only are they future leaders, but they are also making significant contributions in their schools and in our local community,” said Janet Porfilio Westlake, chair of the organization’s Youth Services Committee. “Observing their passion gives us hope.”

Lake County Golden Triangle Rotary awards scholarships for 2024-25 school year Read More »

Suspect in Mount Dora slayings mentally incompetent, judge rules

TAVARES, Fla.—The woman suspected of brutally murdering an elderly Mount Dora couple “is incompetent to proceed” to her murder trial due to her mental illness, Lake Circuit Judge Cary Rada ruled earlier this week.

Vickie Lynn Williams, 51,  is accused of stabbing Darryl Getman, 83, and Sharon Getman, 80. The married couple was murdered in their Waterman Village home sometime between the hours of 11 p.m. Dec. 30, 2022, and 2 a.m. Dec. 31, 2022.

After murdering the couple, Williams stole their green Kia Soul and was still driving it when she was apprehended by a Savannah Police Department officer at a Georgia Amtrak station on Jan. 2, 2023. She was indicted later that month and prosecutors were seeking the death penalty in the case that shocked the community.

Darryl and Sharon Getman were found murdered in their home Dec. 31, 2022.

A competency hearing for Williams was held earlier last week and employees at the Lake County Jail testified, in addition to two experts for the defense and one for the state. Dr. Jason Demery Ph.D., expert for the state, “expressed concerns the Defendant was malingering (faking mental illness,) and further stated he would not opine an individual is incompetent if they are malingering,” Rada’s order states, but also said he had no opinion because Williams “failed to produce reliable data,” by not participating in the interview.

“Dr. (Jeffrery) Danzinger opined the Defendant has no rational understanding of the outcomes and penalties of her case, and that she has partial factual understanding of the roles of officers of the court. Dr. Danzinger further opined that Defendant would not be able to relevantly testify because of delusional beliefs and her inability to accurately recall information. Dr. Danzinger also opined that Defendant’s ability to consult with counsel is substantially impaired.” He stated Williams is “not competent to proceed due to what is likely schizophrenia in exacerbation,” and she “should be involuntarily committed because she has been aggressive and violent in jail,” but also said it is “reasonably probable competency could be restored in 6 months,” the order states.

Vickie Lynn Williams is seen here in an earlier court appearance.

According to reports by Dr. Bushan Agharkar, also an expert for the defense, found Williams to be “mentally ill and urgent need of psychiatric hospitalization and treatment.” He testified he met with her at her cell door because she refused to meet in an attorney booth at the jail, and said Williams was wearing a suicide smock, had poor hygiene and there was liquid on the cell floor he believed to be urine. Williams did not appear to be bothered by the odor and denied it was urine, he said.

During the proceedings Williams mumbled to herself, stated her name was “Candace” and urinated on herself, her chair and the floor while handcuffed and shackled to the defense table. She was removed from the courtroom to clean herself up and she refused to change her clothes. Her attorney, Assistant Public Defender Morris Carranza waived her appearance for the rest of the hearing.

Lake Circuit Judge Cary Rada

On Monday, less than a week after the hearing, Rada rendered his decision. He stated in his order that he took all the testimony into consideration but “competent substantial evidence outweighs any concerns of malingering,” and ordered Williams be committed to the Department of Children and Families to be placed in a mental health treatment facility. He further ordered DCF to report directly to the Court on issues of competency and the need for continued commitment. Williams will remain in the treatment facility until a further order from the Court.

Previous story: State to Seek Death Penalty in Brutal Murders of Elderly Mount Dora Couple – Inside Lake

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National Safe Boating Week kicks off Saturday

LITTLE LAKE HARRIS, Fla.—The unofficial start to summer is upon us and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is reminding boaters to stay safe during National Safe Boating Week that begins Saturday.

Inside Lake had the opportunity to speak with FWC’s Kristen Turner and Chad Weber, along with Hunter Bland of the National Safe Boating Council Friday about staying safe on the waterways. Florida is the “Boating Capital of the World,” with more than 1 million vessels registered in the state, according to FWC.

Florida does have some requirements for boating but common sense and taking simple precautions can prevent a tragedy. A boating safety course is required for anyone born after Jan. 1, 1988; classes are available in classroom setting and also online, FWC-approved courses can be found here.

All vessels are required to have personal flotation device (PFD) for each person onboard and FWC encourages everyone to wear it at all times. In an emergency situation, people often won’t have time to put on a PFD. This reporter and Inside Lake Photographer Bonnie Whicher were required to wear a PFD during a ride-along Friday. The weather cut the ride-along short, but Weber used that opportunity to educate the Inside Lake staff on how to handle changing weather conditions.

FWC Officer Chad Weber PHOTO: Bonnie Whicher/Inside Lake

“You need to know where you are at. (Bad weather) is one of the hidden dangers (people) overlook,” Weber said. “The best thing to do is get out of the water.”

Bland said often homeowners will let a vessel stay at their dock to ride out a storm and he’s even known people to invite boaters in their home to ride it out.

“There are good people out there,” Bland said.

Filing a “float plan can also save your life, Turner told Inside Lake. Though not required, a float plan is letting someone know where you are going and what time you expect to be back. The United States Coast Guard provides a fillable PDF float plan and suggests you provide it to a reliable person, along with a photo of the vessel. While the information would be extremely helpful in an emergency, Bland stressed that something as simple as a text message letting someone know your plans, would suffice.

FWC Northeast Region Public Information Director Kristen Turner PHOTO: Bonnie Whicher/Inside Lake

Weber also suggested other things to have onboard, such as rain jackets, a cooler with water and a first aid kit; tools and extra fuses can also come in handy, Bland added.

For more boating information from FWC, visit https://myfwc.com/boating/

National Safe Boating Council Program Director Hunter Bland PHOTO: Bonnie Whicher/Inside Lake

National Safe Boating Week kicks off Saturday Read More »

Mount Dora to unveil sculpture by Joaquin Restrepo Wednesday

MOUNT DORA— The public is invited to the unveiling of “Temet Nosce,” a sculpture by international artist Joaquín Restrepo. Mount Dora Center for the Arts, in partnership with the City of Mount Dora has scheduled the unveiling for 5 p.m. Wednesday at Simpson Cove.

“Temet Nosce,” meaning “Know Thyself,” has been displayed in various countries and prominent cities around the world. Inspired by Carl Jung’s analytical psychology, the sculpture features intertwined heads that represent the complexity of identity, topped with a structure resembling a cage, symbolizing the self-imposed barriers to personal growth.

Mount Dora to unveil sculpture by Joaquin Restrepo Wednesday Read More »

Lake County Schools high school graduations scheduled for this week and next week

LAKE COUNTY, Fla.—Caps will be flying through the air this week and next as Lake County Schools seniors say goodbye to high school and hello to adulthood. Graduations are scheduled to begin Tuesday with Tavares High School and will end with Lake County Virtual School next week. Schools are listed below in alphabetical order.

East Ridge High School—9 a.m. Wednesday at UCF/Addition Arena

Eustis High School—9 a.m. Saturday, at Eustis High School Panther Stadium

Lake County Virtual School—6 p.m. May 23, at Mount Dora High School Auditorium

Lake Hills School—occurred May 1 at Lake Hills Gymnasium

Lake Minneola High School—7 p.m. Friday at UCF/Addition Arena

Lake Success Academy—3:30 p.m. Friday at Lake Success Academy

Leesburg High School—8 a.m. Saturday at Leesburg High School Stadium

Mount Dora High School—8 p.m. Thursday at Mount Dora High School Stadium

South Lake High School—7:30 p.m. Wednesday at UCF/Addition Arena

Tavares High School—7:30 p.m., Tuesday UCF/Addition Arena

Umatilla High School—7 p.m. Friday Grafton Center Elks Club

 

Lake County Schools high school graduations scheduled for this week and next week Read More »

FDLE arrests Mount Dora man on child pornography charges

MOUNT DORA, Fla.—A Mount Dora man is facing 10 counts of possession of child pornography following a search warrant at his Natoma Boulevard home Wednesday, according to an arrest affidavit.

Agents with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) executed a search warrant at the home of Tyler James Hammond, 29, “in furtherance of an investigation” into an electronic device at the home being used to download child pornography, the affidavit states.

During an interview, Hammond reportedly admitted he had seen child pornography files using Kik, a messaging application, on his phone that was located in his bedroom. Agents looked through the phone and found 10 files depicting children as young as 10 years old, according to the affidavit.

Hammond was arrested and transported to the Lake County Jail, where he was released on $25,000 bond.

FDLE arrests Mount Dora man on child pornography charges Read More »

Wrong-way driver busted with nitrous oxide by Tavares police

TAVARES, Fla.—A wrong-way driver who caught the attention of a Tavares Police Department officer Sunday was arrested for possession of four canisters of nitrous oxide, commonly known as “whippets,” according to a report.

Just before noon Sunday, a TPD officer was parked at Lake County Schools on Burleigh Boulevard when she spotted a grey SUV traveling eastbound in a westbound lane, causing other drivers to swerve into the median and switch lanes, a report states.

The officer activated her lights and sirens and caught up to the SUV around Banning Beach Road, where it pulled over in the middle of Burleigh Boulevard/U.S. Highway 441. She directed the driver, later identified as Kyle Tillberg, to pull over in a nearby shopping plaza.

Tillberg, who was “extremely pale” and had “constricted pupils,” the officer noted, was questioned why he was driving the wrong way and he reportedly said, he believed everyone else was driving the wrong way, the report states.

The officer asked Tillberg if he was under the influence of anything and he denied it, according to the report. He told the officer he was trying to make it to the smoke shop located in the plaza where they were stopped, but that plaza does not have a smoke shop, officer stated in the report.

Tillberg gave officers consent to search the rental vehicle he was driving and upon searching, they found nine small zip-top bags that were ripped open and empty, along with a tenth bag in a compartment under the radio; that bag contained a white, screw-on nozzle tip. Three 680-gram tanks of nitrous oxide were found on the rear floorboard behind the driver’s seat, and one was found tucked under the passenger seat; two of the four tanks were still cold to the touch, according to the report.

The officer requested a drug recognition expert (DRE) to determine if Tillberg was under the influence, and one was not available in Lake or Orange county, the report states. Tillberg, 57, of Mount Dora, was arrested for possessing nitrous oxide and transported to the Lake County Jail, where he was released on $3,000 bond.

Wrong-way driver busted with nitrous oxide by Tavares police Read More »

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