Clermont

Pair of Accused Robbers Facing More Charges, One Suspected of Tavares Murder, Police Say

MOUNT DORA, Florida—The duo accused of robbing a Clermont gas station last week are facing more charges in connection with robberies in the City of Mount Dora and unincorporated Mount Dora and Tavares Police say one of the men is a suspect in a murder.

Dustin “Chico” Perdue, 27, of Tavares and Patrick “YG” Brown, 22, were arrested early Aug. 5 after an Astatula traffic stop led to evidence in a robbery of a Clermont gas station just 23 minutes before the stop.   

In that case, Perdue and Brown stand accused of pointing guns at a store clerk at Circle K, 190 U.S. Highway 27, Clermont, and demanding money just before 11 p.m. Aug. 3. The clerk opened two registers and the suspects stole cash and change, some of it rolled, totaling $134 according to an arrest affidavit.

The red Volkswagen Beetle they were riding in was pulled over for an equipment violation by Astatula Police Department and a gun was spotted in plain view. Upon searching the car, police found a second gun, clothes and rolled change consistent with the robbery. The pair were arrested and held in the Lake County Jail on $101,000 bond. Inside Lake is not naming the driver of the car because she has not been charged with a crime. She is cooperating with law enforcement, according to affidavits in the case.

On Tuesday, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office added an armed robbery to charge to the pair, stemming from a robbery in unincorporated Mount Dora Aug. 2. LCSO responded to Triangle Food Mart, 3865 North Highway 19A on a report of an armed robbery.

The victim told deputies two black males wearing masks, hoodies and gloves entered the store, brandished handguns and made threats. They took $200 worth of Newport cigarettes, $40 and one of the victim’s cell phones. They fled the store and got into a red Volkswagen Beetle.  

Patrick Brown, left; Dustin Perdue PHOTO: Lake County Sheriff’s Office

Also on Tuesday, Mount Dora Police Department charged the pair in connection with a robbery in its city. According to that affidavit, on July 30, Perdue and Brown robbed Little Sammy’s, 446 North Highland Street. In that case, the pair is alleged to have entered the store armed with their faces covered and demanded money from the two clerks. They took cash from the registers and several cartons of Newport cigarettes and demanded the clerks open the safe. The clerks said they had no way to open the safe and one of the robbers jiggled the handle with his bare hand, according to the affidavit. MDPD collected DNA evidence from the handle and are awaiting results from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Both suspects saw one of the clerks attempt to push the panic button on his belt and they fled the store. As they ran out, one of them, later identified as Perdue, struck the victim across the face with his gun. The entire incident was captured on the store’s video surveillance system.  One suspect was wearing a pair of black Nikes with red soles and the shoes were later tied to Brown.

In the case, Perdue and Brown are each facing an additional armed robbery charge and Perdue is also facing a charge of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.

Detectives with MDPD, LCSO and Tavares Police Department interviewed the driver of the Beetle earlier this week and she admitted to being the driver in five armed robberies with Perdue and Brown—three in Tavares, in addition to both robberies in Mount Dora. She said she never profited from the crimes and was only the driver. She also gave detectives details about the crimes and identified Brown’s shoes, according to the affidavit. She is being treated as a witness at this time, but may be charged later, detectives told her.

Image of some of Dustin Perdue’s tattoos. PHOTO: Lake County Sheriff’s Office

Perdue soon may have a much more serious charge to face. TPD Lt. Sarah Coursey told Inside Lake he is a suspect in double shooting that killed a man in April. Alejandro “Alex” Garcia Jr., 29, was killed around 8 p.m. April 8 at Caroline Court Apartments, 1000 East Caroline Street. Another man was shot multiple times and survived his wounds.  

Garcia’s murder was just two months after Perdue was released from state prison after serving nearly 10 years for burglary and theft charges.  

Brown also recently served time in state prison; he was released just over three months ago after serving just under two years for burglary and grand theft charges out of Polk County. He was released after Garcia’s murder and is not a suspect.

Perdue and Brown are both being held in LCJ on no bond. If you have any information on Garcia’s murder or any of the robberies, call Crimeline at 1-800-423-TIPS.  

Our coverage on Perdue and Brown’s arrests last week. https://insidelake.com/2022/08/05/pair-of-armed-robbers-suspected-in-multiple-crimes-arrested-police-say/

Man Accused of Shooting at Clermont First Responders Identified

CLERMONT, Florida—The man accused of shooting at first responders Friday has been charged with several crimes, according to Clermont Police Department.

Wallace Sims Wainwright, 81, is charged with attempted felony murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and attempted murder of a law enforcement officer, CPD said in a statement Saturday afternoon.

Around 8:15 p.m. Friday, Wainwright’s wife made a call for medical assistance and Wainwright fired shots at Clermont Fire Department and Lake EMS after they arrived to help at the Emerald Lakes Mobile Village on State Road 50 in Clermont. No one was injured, and first responders left the scene for a safe location.

CPD responded and took fire from the man and a CPD officer returned fire and struck the suspect. CPD has not released how many times he was shot. Wainwright stopped firing and officers began rendering aid to him; his wife was not injured.

Wainwright was transported to a local trauma center and remains in stable condition. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating and CPD continues to cooperate, CPD said in a statement.

The officer who shot Wainwright is on administrative leave with pay, pending the outcome of the investigation. An FDLE investigation and administrative leave is standard procedure in officer-involved shootings.

Wainwright is being held on no bond.

Man, 81, Opens Fire on First Responders, Shot by Clermont Police

CLERMONT, Florida—An 81-year-old man who shot at responding medical personnel was shot by a Clermont Police officer Friday night, according to Clermont Police Department.

The man’s wife made the medical call for assistance and the man began firing shortly after the arrival of Clermont Fire Department and Lake EMS around 8:15 p.m. Friday at Emerald Lakes Mobile Village in the 1400 block of State Road 50. The couple’s names have not been released.

No one from CFD or Lake EMS was injured, and they left the scene for a safe location while they awaited the arrival of law enforcement. CPD responded and took fire from the man; a CPD officer returned fire and struck the suspect. CPD has not released how many times he was shot. He stopped firing and officers began rendering aid to the man; his wife was not injured.

He was transported to a local trauma center and is in stable condition. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating and the officer who fired his weapon is on administrative leave with pay, pending the outcome of the investigation. An FDLE investigation and administrative leave is standard procedure in officer-involved shootings.

CPD Chief Chuck Broadway said he is thankful all the first responders are safe and able to return home to their families. “This is a stark reminder of the inherent dangers that all first responders encounter on a daily basis,” he said in a statement.

Pair of Armed Robbers Suspected in Multiple Crimes Arrested, Police Say

CLERMONT, Florida—Two men suspected in multiple armed robberies, who were both released from state prison this year, are behind bars on $101,000 bond, according to Lake County Jail online booking records.

Dustin “Chico” Perdue, 27, of Tavares and Patrick “YG” Brown Jr., 22, of Auburndale were arrested early Thursday morning following an armed robbery at Circle K, 190 U.S. Highway 27, Clermont just before 11 p.m. Wednesday, according to their arrest affidavits.

Two black males with their faces covered were wearing dark clothes and gloves when they entered the store near the corner East Grand Highway, pointed guns at the store clerk and demanded money. The clerk opened two registers and the suspects stole cash and change, some of it rolled, totaling $134 according to the affidavit.

The suspects, one tall and thin, the second shorter with a medium build, both pointed handguns at the clerk and one of them put a red bag on the counter that was used to collect the money, video surveillance shows. One of the suspects appeared to have a tan-colored hoodie on underneath his dark shirt, with the hoodie covering his head. The pair fled on foot and a K9 tracked the scent to a nearby business plaza and stopped, indicating the duo got into a vehicle and fled the scene, the affidavit states.

Perdue is 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighs 200 pounds; Brown is 6 feet 3 inches tall and weighs 170 pounds, according to LCJ online records.

Twenty-three minutes after the robbery, a vehicle was pulled over in Astatula for an equipment violation and Perdue and Brown were found in the vehicle, along with a female driver. Inside Lake is not naming the driver because she has not been charged with a crime. Twenty-three minutes is consistent with the amount of time it would take to drive from the robbery scene to the location of the traffic stop, a Clermont Police detective noted in the affidavit.

A handgun was spotted in plain view in the front passenger floorboard at Brown’s feet, along with a bag of marijuana in his lap, according to the affidavit.

Astatula Police searched the vehicle and found a red backpack that contained gloves, dark-colored pants, long sleeve shirts, a tan hoodie, loose and rolled change, in addition to a second handgun, according to the affidavit.

Brown and Perdue were placed under arrest for armed robbery, two counts of possession of a weapon or ammunition by a convicted felon, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and petit theft. and transported to LCJ. The CPD detective asked both defendants be held on a “no bond” status, however each defendant’s bond is set at $101,000.

Sources have told Inside Lake the duo is suspected of multiple armed robberies and other crimes in several cities and LCSO’s jurisdiction. Inside Lake will be following these cases closely and will publish a follow-up if more charges are added.

Purdue was released from prison in February after serving nearly 10 years for a variety of burglary and grand theft charges; Brown was released from prison just over three months ago after serving just under two years for burglary and grand theft charges out of Polk County.

Eustis Man Accused of Fleeing Clermont Police, Speeding Through Busy Park and Tossing Backpack Containing Nearly 700 Grams of Meth and Over 70 Grams of Pink and White Cocaine

CLERMONT, Florida—A Eustis man accused a fleeing a Clermont Police officer on a traffic stop, running on foot and tossing a backpack full of drugs is facing numerous charges and is being held on no bond for failure to appear in court in a neighboring county.

According to an arrest affidavit, a sergeant with Clermont Police Department attempted to stop a silver Infiniti for an expired tag shortly before 7 p.m. Thursday on U.S. Highway 27 near Johns Lake Road.

The Infiniti turned onto Johns Lake Road and into the parking lot of Lake Felter Park, 1750 Johns Lake Road, slowed and turned sideways. The sergeant exited his vehicle and the driver, later identified as Darnell Lanier Hill, 27, of Eustis, looked directly at the sergeant, put his hands up and sped through the parking lot while dozens of people, including children, were at the park, according to the affidavit.

Hill left the park and turned onto Johns Lake Road and CPD did not pursue the Infiniti, the affidavit states. Six minutes later, another CPD officer spotted the cat at State Road 50 and Magnolia Point Boulevard. The officer activated his lights and approached the Infiniti and Hill jumped out the car with a black backpack and fled on foot, the affidavit states.

Darnell Hill, 27, of Eustis. PHOTO: Lake County Sheriff’s Office

CPD pursued Hill on foot, and he tossed the backpack and ran up the exterior staircase of a building located at 17320 State Road 50, Clermont and CPD established a perimeter around the building. A citizen and their son reported seeing Hill throw the backpack and officers found it under a truck.

About 12 minutes later, Hill exited the building and began vomiting. He was taken into custody and officers searched the backpack and found a cache of drugs. Inside the backpack, officers found a loaded 9mm handgun, four large bags of drugs, a scale and numerous small empty baggies, commonly used for the sale of narcotics, according to the affidavit.

Two bags of a crystal substance weighing a total of 677.5 grams were field-tested and found to be methamphetamine, a bag with pink powdered substance and a bag with a white powdered substance were found to be cocaine and weighed a total of 73.3 grams, according to the affidavit.

CPD searched the Infiniti and found three cell phones, a scale, $994 cash and multiple bags of marijuana weighing 88.6 grams. Hill has a revoked driver license for fleeing and eluding and a warrant out of Citrus County for failure to appear for armed burglary, according to the affidavit.

Hill was arrested for armed trafficking of methamphetamine, armed trafficking of cocaine, possession of marijuana with intent to sell, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of ammunition by a convicted felon, flee to elude, resisting without violence, possession of drug paraphernalia and driving while license revoked. He was transported to LCJ, where he is being held on $199,500 bond for the current charges and he has a detainer (no bond) regarding the failure to appear warrant in Citrus County.

Monday Morning Crash Claims Life of Clermont Man

CLERMONT, Florida—The crash that closed the eastbound lanes of Hammock Ridge Road for several hours Monday claimed the life of Clermont man, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

A 2017 Mack box truck was disabled in the eastbound outside lane of Hammock Ridge Road shortly before 9:30 a.m. Monday with its hazard lights on and traffic warning triangle markers placed in the roadway, FHP Lt. Tara Crescenzi said in a press release.

A 2003 Dodge Ram 1500, being driven by a 37-year-old Clermont man, was traveling in the same lane and attempted to switch lanes to avoid the disabled box truck, but the right front of the Ram struck the rear left of the box truck and the driver of the Ram was pronounced dead on the scene, Crescenzi said. He was not wearing a seatbelt.

The driver of the box truck, a 49-year-old Winter Haven man, was not injured. The crash remains under investigation.

FHP Investigating Fatal Clermont Crash

CLERMONT, Florida—The Florida Highway Patrol is on the scene of a fatal crash on Hammock Ridge Road in Clermont, according to FHP Lt. Tara Crescenzi.

The crash happened around 9:20 a.m. Monday and involved a 2003 Dodge Ram 1550 and a 2017 Mack truck on eastbound Hammock Ridge Road near Fox Chase Drive. The driver of the Ram was pronounced dead on the scene and is pending identification, Crescenzi said. The driver of the Mack, a 49-year-old male, was not injured and remained on scene.

FHP is still investigating and has released any other information.

The eastbound lanes of Hammock Ridge Road were still closed at press time. This is a developing story.

Woman Killed After Walking into Path of Camaro Early Sunday Morning

FOUR CORNERS, Florida—A 37-year-old Davenport woman was killed shortly before 4:30 a.m. Sunday when she walked into traffic, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

A 2014 Chevy Camaro being driven by a 21-year-old Davenport woman was westbound on U.S. Highway 192, also know as West Irlo Bronson Highway near Town Center Boulevard, when the 37-year-old woman began walking south across the westbound lanes of traffic, FHP Lt. Tara Crescenzi said in a press release.

The pedestrian, who was not in a marked crosswalk, was struck by the right front of the Camaro and pronounced dead on the scene. The driver, who remained on scene, was not injured, and her passenger, a 20-year-old male, also of Davenport, received minor injuries. He was not transported to the hospital.

The crash remains under investigation, Crescenzi said.

Back to School Events Around Lake County

LAKE COUNTY, Florida—The first day of school, scheduled for Aug. 10 for Lake County Schools, is fast approaching and with increased prices for gas, food and many other essential items, many families are in need of back-to-school supplies or some fun to have with the kiddos before they hit the books.

We have compiled of list of events around Lake County that include supply giveaways and fun and informative events for the kids. Cities are listed in alphabetical order, scroll down until you find an event near you.

Clermont

Saturday, July 30, 9 a.m. to noon. Project Kid Connect presented by Lake County Sheriff’s Office Charities. Backpack and school supply giveaway, food, drinks, rock climb, dunk-a-deputy and more. Location: South Lake District Office,15855 State Road 50, Clermont.

Eustis

Saturday, July 30, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Back to School Bash presented by the City of Eustis. Free food, school supplies and boy’s haircuts while supplies and spaces last. Free pool admission, bounce house and firetrucks and police cars on scene. Battle of the Badges Blood Drive, donors receive $20 eGift card and first responder t-shirt. Location: Ferran Park, 250 Ferran Park Drive, Eustis

Fruitland Park

Friday, July 29, 10 a.m. to noon. Back to School Bash presented by Fruitland Park Library. Free hot dog lunches, school supplies, bicycle helmets and face painting, while supplies last. Free vision and hearing screenings also available. Location: Fruitland Park Library, 604 W. Berckman Street, Fruitland Park.

Groveland

Saturday, July 30, 10 a.m. Back 2 School Backpack Bash presented by the City of Groveland. Free backpacks for grades K-8, adult and child must be present to receive a backpack while supplies last, vendors and a kids zone. Location: Nathaniel Community Gymnasium, 13806 State Road 33, Groveland.

Minneola

Thursday, July 28, 6:30 p.m. Back-to-School Safety Meet-and-Greet with speakers, Lake County Sheriff Peyton Grinnell, Lake County Schools Superintendent Diane Kornegay and Lake County Schools Supervisor of Safety and Security Joseph Mabry. Speakers will discuss how LCSO and LCS are keeping students safe. Location: Minneola City Hall, 800 North Highway 27, Minneola.

Mount Dora

Sunday, Aug. 7, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Whimsy Market’s Back to School Market Mount Dora. More than 30 vendors, character meet and greet with Elsa, sweet treats and food trucks. Location: Essential Therapies Spa, 1518 North Donnelly Street, Mount Dora.

Umatilla

Saturday, July 30, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Whimsy Market’s Back to School Market Umatilla. More than 40 vendors, character meet and greet with Elsa, carnival games, live music, bounce houses and food trucks. Location: Sunsational Farms, 40541 Roger Giles Road, Umatilla.

High School Band Booster President Admits to Stealing Funds

CLERMONT, Florida—The president of a local high school’s band booster association turned herself in to the Lake County Jail on a warrant after admitting to a Lake County Sheriff’s Office detective she stole nearly $7,500 because she was struggling with monthly bills.

Officials with Clermont’s East Ridge High School and Lake County Schools (LCS)contacted LCSO in early May with concerns about East Ridge High School’s Band Booster Association’s financial records and expenditures after LCS received an anonymous tip, according to a probable cause affidavit.

LCSO began investigating and found that the booster’s association’s president, Denise June McLeod of Minneola, altered at least 44 transactions between July 2021 and March 2022 totaling $7,482. The detective discovered recurring payments to Sprint that paid for McLeod’s family’s cell phone plan and several Venmo cash out transactions.

On July 7, McLeod, 50, was interviewed by an LCSO detective and she reportedly admitted the crimes and said she was struggling to pay her monthly bills and her rent on time.

A warrant was issued for McLeod’s arrest Wednesday for grand theft and false entries into a book of business. She turned herself in at LCJ Friday, where she was released on $4,000 bond.

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