Clermont

Deputies OK after Clermont woman sprays them with chemical during well-being check

CLERMONT, Fla.—Four Lake County Sheriff’s Office deputies are OK after being doused with a substance Friday by a woman while they performed a well-being check, according to an arrest affidavit.

Deputies arrived at an apartment in unincorporated Clermont after a father requested a well-being check on his small child. The child’s age and address are redacted from the affidavit.

They attempted to contact Crystal Lorraine Velez, 36, at her apartment and she did not answer the door. They found the door was unlocked but barricaded and “due to concerns for persons inside the apartment” they removed the barricade, entered the apartment and began announcing themselves and clearing a path through the apartment that was flooded with water and cluttered, according to the affidavit.

They found one of the bedroom doors was locked and as they forced entry, they heard a woman screaming and a small child cooing or crying. They partially entered the room and Velez began “dousing” them with an unknown chemical from a spray bottle, believed to be a chemical degreaser. Velez was tased by a deputy and other deputies secured the child, and she was given to her father. Velez was taken into custody and the four deputies were taken to South Lake Emergency Room, where they were treated and released.

Velez was arrested for four counts of battery on a law enforcement officer and transported to the Lake County Jail.

Detectives spoke with a deputy who went into the apartment and the deputy said they could barely walk through the apartment because there was so much clutter. They spoke with the child’s father who said he left Velez approximately three months ago because of her mental health and the apartment was clean and orderly when he left. Detectives were also able to observe the child with her father, who “appeared healthy and happy,” the affidavit states.

Detectives secured a search warrant for the home and when they entered, they found every piece of furniture was overturned, every appliance was disconnected, including a moldy refrigerator. Windows were open, with only small objects or screens that could be easily moved or pushed by a small child. There was little food in house and every water source was turned on, causing the carpet to be saturated with water while every other floor had standing water, the detective noted.

Detectives determined Velez failed to provide the child with proper care and supervision and she was also charged with child neglect, in addition to the four counts of battery on a law enforcement officer. She continues to be held in LCJ on $10,000 bond.

Deputies OK after Clermont woman sprays them with chemical during well-being check Read More »

Head-on collision kills Clermont man Wednesday morning

LAKE COUNTY, Fla.—A Clermont man was killed Wednesday morning after the car he was driving hit an SUV head-on near Clermont, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

The Clermont man, 52, was driving a 2018 Nissan Maxima eastbound on Schofield Road when he failed to maintain his lane and struck a 2001 Jeep Grand Cherokee head-on that was traveling westbound on Schofield Road near Five Mile Road, around 6:30 a.m. The impact caused both vehicles to overturn several times, FHP said.

The Clermont man was pronounced deceased on the scene. The Grand Cherokee’s driver, a 39-year-old Orlando man, was airlifted to Orlando Regional Medical Center in critical condition. Both men were wearing their seatbelts.

Previous story: Troopers investigating fatal crash near Clermont Wednesday morning – Inside Lake

Head-on collision kills Clermont man Wednesday morning Read More »

Troopers investigating fatal crash near Clermont Wednesday morning

LAKE COUNTY, Fla.—The Florida Highway Patrol is investigating a crash that killed at least one person Wednesday morning.

The crash occurred on Schofield Road near 5 Mile Road near Clermont around 6:30 a.m. Wednesday and troopers have shut down a portion of Schofield Road.

MAP: Florida Highway Patrol

This is a developing story. 

Troopers investigating fatal crash near Clermont Wednesday morning Read More »

5th Annual Lake County Back the Blue (and Red) Walk scheduled for Saturday; Firefighters added this year

TAVARES, Florida—For the fifth year in a row, law enforcement and supporters will join forces for the annual Lake County Back the Blue Walk at Wooton Park Saturday morning, and this year firefighters will join the fun. 

Scheduled for 9 a.m., this is one of many law enforcement events around Lake County held in May during Law Enforcement Appreciation Month and this year, Organizer Shannon Cook wanted to add firefighters to the appreciation walk to coincide with the Lake County Board of County Commissioners proclaiming May 4 “International Firefighters’ Day” in Lake County, she told Inside Lake.

“I figured what better day to honor our heroes in red,” Cook said.

The walk began in 2019 to show support for law enforcement during a time when the “defund the police” movement was making its way across the country, Cook said, representatives from several law enforcement agencies and numerous public officials are expected to be in attendance.

“The good ones needed to know they were appreciated,” Cook said.

Ryan Koester, son of fallen Lake County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Wayne Koester, left, and Deputy Koester’s brother Vic, right, at the 2023 Back the Blue Walk PHOTO: Shannon Cook

Cook’s close friend, Lake County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Wayne Koester, was killed in the line of duty Feb. 9, 2005. Koester, who was 33 at the time, and two other deputies were ambushed while responding to a domestic violence call. All three deputies were shot, and Koester succumbed to his injuries; the other two deputies recovered. Jason Wheeler was shot and paralyzed during his capture and convicted in Koester’s death. Cook was also close to Chris Daniels, who was serving as Lake County Sheriff when he was tragically killed in a charity bus race in 2006, on his birthday.

Participants will meet at 9 a.m. at Wooton Park, 100 East Ruby Street, Tavares. The first stop will be the Lake County Administration Building, then a stop at the Tavares Public Safety Complex and the walk will end at Kalua Beach Bar with lunch, provided by owner Randy Connor; come a little early to enjoy donuts and coffee donated by Greg Wilmore of New Life Baptist Church Leesburg. 

 

5th Annual Lake County Back the Blue (and Red) Walk scheduled for Saturday; Firefighters added this year Read More »

Man arrested last year for multiple thefts in Eustis nabbed by deputies after bailing out of stolen SUV in South Lake early Monday

CLERMONT, Fla.—A man wanted for failure to appear in court for crimes in 2023 and now suspected of committing recent thefts in Eustis and Mount Dora, was apprehended after a Polk County license plate reader hit on the stolen SUV he was driving early Monday morning.

According to an arrest affidavit, around 4:45 a.m. Monday, the Polk County license plate reader hit on a black Honda SUV that was stolen in Mount Dora and Polk County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) deputies located it traveling northbound on U.S. Highway 27 near U.S 192, approaching the Lake County line. PCSO’s Aviation Unit observed the Honda turn eastbound on Hartwood Marsh Road and then onto Lovers Lane. The vehicle then came to a stop in the 11000 block of Avalon Ridge Way and the driver, later identified as Jordan Makuannen, 19, fled on foot and attempted to hide behind a sand berm at Tarmac- Center Sand Mine.

PCSO’s Aviation Unit watched Makuannen from above while deputies on the ground deployed a PCSO K9 and Makuannen was located and taken into custody. Makuannen refused to identify himself to Lake County Sheriff’s Office deputies but when he arrived at the Lake County Jail, jail staff was able to identify him, the affidavit states.

Jordan Makuannen in his October 2023 mugshot, left, and his mugshot taken after his arrest Monday.

Makuannen was already wanted for failure to appear on charges related to an October 2023 case in Eustis. Only Inside Lake reported in 2023 Makuannen’s stepfather turned him in after finding numerous identification cards in his home on East Atwater Avenue. Officers responded to the home and collected the cards that matched up to several victims of burglaries of both homes and vehicles in the area, some nearly two months old. The victims reported numerous items stolen, including guns, wallets, purses, electronics, cash and credit cards. Sixteen vehicle burglaries were reported during October 2023 and at least eight of them are within one half of a mile of the home on East Atwater Avenue, according to an affidavit in that case. In one incident, Makuannen is suspected of stealing a woman’s purse after entering her home on Blackberry Court, armed with a knife, while the victim was home.

EPD began watching Makuannen’s home on East Atwater Avenue in October and when he returned, officers knocked on the door and he fled from the back porch; he was taken into custody a few blocks away in the parking lot of a business on South Bay Street. He was arrested for eight charges, including armed burglary and grand theft and locked up on $65,000 bond. According to Lake County Clerk of Court online records, on Dec. 6, 2023, Makuannen’s public defender filed a motion to release him on his own recognizance because more than 30 days had passed since his arrest, and he had not been formally charged. About a week later, Circuit Judge Cary Rada granted the motion on the majority of his charges, reducing his bond to $16,000 and he bonded out Dec. 23, 2023. He failed to appear at subsequent court dates following his release, according to online records.

Eustis Police Department officers are seen here in October 2023 after apprehending burglary suspect Jordan Makuannen who fled from them. PHOTO:
Shannon Cook/Special to Inside Lake

On March 1, Makuannen was captured on surveillance video stealing a grocery order off of a porch on Morin Street in Eustis. In that incident, Makuannen is seen wearing tan pants and black slides as he takes several bags of groceries around 6 p.m. and again around five minutes later when he returns for a case of water.

Two days later, on March 3, LCSO attempted to pull over a Dodge Durango that had been stolen from a home on East Atwater Avenue—the same street Makuannen lives on and one of the vehicles he is suspected of burglarizing in October 2023.

The Durango fled and was later found abandoned at Club at Eustis Apartments behind Publix on David Walker Drive. Officers searched the Durango and found several grocery bags and items that matched what was stolen from the home on Morin Street.

Video surveillance captured Makuannen running through the apartment complex wearing the same black slides he was wearing when he stole the groceries two days prior, and another video showed Makuannen removing his black slides and leaving them on a staircase. EPD officers found the slides and collected them as evidence, but they did not find Makuannen.

After identifying Makuannen as the suspect in the grocery grab, EPD detectives secured a warrant for Makuannen’s arrest, as the court issued a warrant for his arrest for failure to appear. Makuannen apparently cut his hair, and stayed under the radar until he was apprehended Monday. He could be facing more charges in cases that are still under investigation, EPD Chief Craig Capri said.

He is being held in the Lake County Jail on no bond.

Previous story: Stepdad Turns Stepson in to Police After Finding Evidence of Multiple Burglaries in his Eustis Home Monday – Inside Lake

Man arrested last year for multiple thefts in Eustis nabbed by deputies after bailing out of stolen SUV in South Lake early Monday Read More »

Clermont man accused of exposing himself to minor in store parking lot in February

CLERMONT, Fla.—An 18-year-old man is scheduled to be arraigned later this month on a charge of lewd and lascivious exhibition after being accused of exposing himself to a minor female in the parking lot of a busy store in February.

On Feb. 23, the girl told a Lake County Sheriff’s Office deputy she walked up to the vehicle she was riding in the parking lot of Kohl’s, 12305 U.S. Highway 27, Clermont when Ismael Torres Marchany, of Clermont, “startled her.” She said Marchany was making a “hissing” sound and when she turned around, he was exposing and touching himself, according to an arrest affidavit.

The victim became upset and started to cry and got into the passeneger side of the vehicle and told the woman she was with. The victim continued crying and began to panic and shake and the woman drove slowly through the parking lot and was able to get the make, model and license plate of the vehicle Marchany was driving. The victim and the woman went to their home in unincorporated Clermont and waited on deputies.

They gave the vehicle information to a deputy, and it came back to Marchany. The deputy contacted Marchany and met him on Thousand Trails Boulevard at Thousand Trails Orlando, an RV park in unincorporated Clermont. Marchany told the deputy he did not speak English and an officer from Clermont Police Department responded to the scene to translate, the affidavit states.

Marchany told law enforcement he works across the street from Kohl’s and was on a break. He said he went to Kohl’s parking lot to listen to music and as his break ended, he went to change into his uniform to go back to work.

“During the questioning he changed his words of time frame a couple of times, as well as stating that he had boxers on the entire time but ended fully nude in his vehicle,” the arresting deputy noted in the affidavit.

Marchany was not questioned about the minor female but brought her up on his own and said a female came up to his driver’s door when he was “looking away and not paying attention,” the affidavit states. Marchany said she startled him but at “no point did he touch himself in a sexual way. Marchany said he changed his clothes, went back to work and then went home.

Marchany was placed under arrest and transported to the Lake County Jail, where he was released on $5,000 bond. He is scheduled to be arraigned March 18.

Clermont Police Department is also investigating a similar incident that occurred on Dec. 23, 2023, involving the same vehicle and more charges against Marchany are possible in that case.

Clermont man accused of exposing himself to minor in store parking lot in February Read More »

Georgia Man Accused of Shooting Friend as they Travel on the Turnpike near Clermont Sunday Night

CLERMONT, Fla.—A Georgia man is being held in the Lake County Jail on no bond after being accused of shooting his friend as they traveled on Florida’s Turnpike late Sunday night.

The Florida Highway Patrol asked for assistance from the Lake County Sheriff’s Office around 10:30 p.m. Sunday in reference to a man stopping vehicles and asking for help. Not long after, LCSO received a 911 call from an unnamed individual stating someone was banging on their door and asking for help in unincorporated Clermont, according to an arrest affidavit.

Deputies responded to the home and found Bounmy Xayavong, who told them he was traveling south on the Turnpike with his longtime friend, a man later identified as Sergio Villanueva. The pair began arguing about an ex-girlfriend and Villanueva shot him in the upper right thigh while he was driving, he told deputies. He stopped the vehicle, got out and began running and asking for help, according to the affidavit.

Villanueva, 26, then drove away and after Xayavong was unable to find help on the Turnpike, he jumped off the roadway and went down a hill to County Road 561 to look for help. Xayavong provided the wrong name and date of birth to deputies and “seemed to be withholding information from deputies,” the arresting deputy noted in the affidavit. Deputies searched him and he was identified by a Georgia Department of Defense paper that had his name on it. They also found a key fob with a plastic tag that had an Oregon license plate number on it. After running the tag, they found it belonged to a Hertz rental car.

Deputies canvassed the Turnpike in search of evidence and a crime scene and came up empty. About three hours later, at 1:30 a.m., the LCSO Communication Center received a 911 call from a male that said, “Oh yeah,” and hung up, Deputies went to the area on Lemongrass Road to canvass the area and found a dark-colored Chevrolet parked toward the back of a home under construction. Deputies called out and Villanueva, lying on his stomach with his arms stretched out, called out from inside the home for deputies to arrest him, according to the affidavit.

They took him into custody and searched him for the gun and he “spontaneously uttered” he threw the gun because he was frightened. He took deputies to the area where he said he threw it, but they were unable to find it, the affidavit states.

Villanueva was arrested for aggravated battery, trespassing on a construction site and tampering with evidence.

Georgia Man Accused of Shooting Friend as they Travel on the Turnpike near Clermont Sunday Night Read More »

Man who Killed French Bulldog in 2021 Clermont Botched C-Section Headed to Prison

CLERMONT, Fla.—One of the men arrested after a botched C-section killed Lyla the French bulldog in Clermont in 2021, is headed to prison after pleading no contest to numerous charges last week, according to Lake County Clerk of Court online records.

Frankie Huertas Rivera, 36, pleaded no contest Friday—exactly three years to the day Lyla lost her life. In 2021, Larry Colon, then 50, paid Rivera $650 to perform a C-section on Lyla in Colon’s living room and Colon’s daughter filmed the horrific surgery and posted it to TikTok Feb. 9, 2021.

According to a probable cause affidavit in the case, the video showed Colon holding Lyla down while Rivera cuts her open and she is seen squirming and shaking in pain as Rivera removes puppies from her. After the surgery Colon took Lyla — after she was already dead — to a local vet and an employee performed chest compressions on the French bulldog for 15 minutes in an attempt to save her life. Lyla was found with two dead puppies still inside her and was believed to have died from septic shock secondary to contamination and additional puppies left in her uterus.

The veterinarian told a Lake County Sheriff’s Office deputy Lyla and her two dead puppies “suffered unjust cruelty and suffering due to unethical medical services performed,” the affidavit states.

Colon was later arrested on a warrant for animal cruelty and Rivera was picked up in Hernando County for on a warrant for practicing veterinary medicine without a license, conspiracy to commit animal cruelty and seven counts of aggravated animal cruelty.

River pleaded no contest to all of his charges and was sentenced more than two years in prison, followed by five years of probation; he was also ordered not to have contact with animals and must take an eight-week class on animal cruelty with the Humane Society.

Colon’s case remains open.

Previous story: “Lyla” The Dog Dead Following Botched Amateur C-Section In Clermont Home – Inside Lake

Man who Killed French Bulldog in 2021 Clermont Botched C-Section Headed to Prison Read More »

Fentanyl, Cocaine, Marijuana, Stolen Gun Found During Umatilla Search Warrant, Trio Arrested

UMATILLA, Fla.—Three people are behind bars and $50,000 worth of drugs are off the streets following a search warrant at a Umatilla home early Wednesday, according to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office.

Acting on Crimeline tips and complaints, LCSO’s SWAT team, along with detectives from LCSO, Clermont Police Department, Eustis Police Department, Leesburg Police Department, Mount Dora Police Department and the Department of Homeland Security wrapped up a six-month long investigation Wednesday with the execution of the search warrant at 38945 Pine St., in unincorporated Umatilla.

Law enforcement detained three people found inside the home, Robert Donaldson, 46, Joana Silva, 22, and Lashonda Gaston, 44. Donaldson and Silva are engaged, according to LCSO.

Upon searching the home, law enforcement found a large amount of powder and crack cocaine, weighing about 1.5 pounds, along with an ounce of fentanyl in pill form and 7 pounds of marijuana, with a combined street value of $50,000. The fentanyl pills were stamped with a handicap symbol, LCSO said; a stolen gun and $10,000 in cash were also found.

PHOTOS: Lake County Sheriff’s Office

Donaldson, who was already on probation for possession of drugs and resisting arrest in a 2021 case, was arrested for trafficking in cocaine, trafficking in fentanyl, possession of marijuana with intent to sell, possession of ammunition by a convicted felon, manufacturing cocaine into a cocaine base, possession of drug paraphernalia, and ownership, lease, rental, or possession of a residence for trafficking in or manufacturing a controlled substance; he is being held in the Lake County Jail on no bond.

Silva, who was caught trying to flush crack down the toilet, was arrested for tampering with evidence, trafficking in cocaine, trafficking in fentanyl, possession of marijuana with intent to sell, manufacturing cocaine into a cocaine base, possession of drug paraphernalia and ownership, lease, rental, or possession of a residence for trafficking in or manufacturing a controlled substance; she is being held in LCJ on $561,000 bond.

Gaston was arrested for trafficking in fentanyl and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon; she is being held In LCJ on $20,000 bond.

Fentanyl, Cocaine, Marijuana, Stolen Gun Found During Umatilla Search Warrant, Trio Arrested Read More »

BREAKING NEWS: Santa Claus is Coming to Town

LAKE COUNTY, Fla.—At press time Christmas Eve, the jolly fellow best known as Santa Claus was last spotted in Greenland and had delivered more than 5 billion gifts, according to the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD.)

Little boys and girls (who should be in bed) can track the big guy’s movements online as he makes his way across the world with his trusty reindeer crew, by visiting NORAD Tracks Santa.

NORAD began tracking Santa in 1958 after taking over the duty from the U.S. Air Force.

BREAKING NEWS: Santa Claus is Coming to Town Read More »

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