Groveland

Man Causes $50K Damage to Clermont Business, Bites Groveland Police Officer

CLERMONT, Florida—A Clermont man already in the Lake County Jail facing serious charges now stands accused of driving through a rollup door and causing $50,000 damage to a local business last month.

Adaly Flores Flores, 30, of Clermont, was arrested shortly before 8 p.m. May 26 after allegedly striking multiple vehicles in Groveland’s Cypress Oaks neighborhood, striking a portable potty, light poles and finally crashing into a retention pond, before charging toward a witness and running through a retention pond into a marshy area, according to an arrest affidavit.

Groveland Police officers and a Florida Highway Patrol trooper located Flores in the marshy area and ordered him to come out and he refused, the affidavit states. Flores resisted two GPD officers, biting one of them, as they took him into custody.

In that case, Flores was arrested for battery on a law enforcement officer, resisting an officer with violence, no driver license and leaving the scene of a crash with property damage. After Flores was medically cleared, he was booked into LCJ and held on $11,000 bond. At the time, GPD officers did not know his crime spree began earlier that night in Clermont.

About 30 minutes before the incident in Groveland, Flores’ blue Toyota Camry was captured on video surveillance pulling into Safelite Auto Glass, 902 Jan Mar Court, Clermont. Flores is seen exiting the Camry, checking door handles and looking inside commercial vehicles. Flores then gets back in the Camry and drives around the parking lot, striking a dumpster in the process. He gets out to check for damage on the car and checks the door handles and vehicles again, according to a second arrest affidavit.

Flores gets back in the Camry and after several minutes accelerates towards a rollup door, stops and then accelerates again and drives through the door. He backs out and leaves the business and is located by GPD officers 12 minutes later after they received a call about a reckless driver, according to the affidavit.

LCSO responded to Safelite and found $50,000 worth of damage to the building, along with $2,000 damage to a silver Honda Civic that was parked inside. LCSO matched the car in the video to the car Flores was driving and found physical evidence, including silver paint transferred from the Civic, the affidavit states.

Flores is facing two counts of felony criminal mischief in addition to the charges from Groveland Police Department. He is also facing an unknown added charge and is being held in LCJ on no bond.

Leesburg Woman Killed in State Road 44 Crash Tuesday Morning

EUSTIS, Florida— The Florida Highway Patrol is investigating a crash that killed a 21-year-old Leesburg woman Tuesday morning.

The woman was westbound on State Road 44 near Bottany Woods Drive just after 8:30 a.m. in a 2003 Ford Ranger when she veered onto the shoulder, overcorrected and entered the eastbound path of a 2021 Ford Ranger hauling a trailer. The 2021 Ranger was being driven by a 45-year-old Groveland man, according to FHP Lt. Tara Crescenzi.

The two Rangers collided, and the 2021 Ranger overturned and came to a final rest on its roof, the driver suffered minor injuries and was not transported to the hospital. The woman driving the 2003 Ranger was pronounced dead on the scene. Both drivers were wearing their seatbelts.

The crash closed State 44 for more than six hours and the road was still closed at press time. The crash remains under investigation.

Man Dead Following Altercation, Shooting in Daycare Parking Lot

GROVELAND, Florida—A man has died following a shooting at a Groveland daycare Thursday afternoon, according to Groveland Police Department.

Two men got into a physical altercation around 4:15 p.m. in the parking lot of We Are The Future Academy, 207 Groveland Farms Road, which resulted in Stephan Jefferson being shot once, GPD spokesperson Sarah Panko said in a press release.

Jefferson was transported by air to Orlando Regional Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead, and the other man was transported to South Lake Hospital with minor injuries.

“This was an isolated incident with no immediate threat to the community. Crime scene technicians and detectives quickly responded, while officers maintained the integrity of the scene and assisted with student pickup,” Panko said in a statement.

The case remains under investigation. 

Tragic Easter Weekend: Groveland Child Dies After Being Struck in Driveway

GROVELAND, Florida—A 7-year-old girl has died after being run over in a driveway Easter Sunday afternoon, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

A 70-year-old Groveland woman was parked in a driveway dropping off family members at a home on County Road 48 near County Road 33 at 4:30 p.m. The woman put the van in “drive” and failed to realize her 7-year-old granddaughter was in front of the van, and she was struck, FHP Lt. Kim Montes said in a press release.

The girl, also of Groveland, was transported to UF Health Leesburg, where she later died. The crash remains under investigation.

This is the second tragic traffic incident involving children in Lake County in less than 24 hours. On Saturday, a 2-year-old boy and 4-year-old boy, who were not in car seats, were killed in a head-on crash near Sorrento. A 1-year-old boy in the same crash was airlifted with serious injuries. The three boys, all of Leesburg, have been identified as brothers in numerous social media posts.

Middle School Girl Arrested After Blue Ink Foils Her Plan To Get Another Student In Trouble

GROVELAND, Florida—A 12-year-old Gray Middle School student was arrested Tuesday after blue ink foiled her plan to get another student in trouble.

Administrators at Gray Middle School, 205 E. Magnolia St., Groveland, contacted Groveland Police in reference to a shooting threat, according to an arrest affidavit. A 12-year-old girl told them around 3 p.m. she was informed about threats that were written about her in the girls second floor bathroom. The girl went to the bathroom and took a photo of the blue writing and it reportedly stated, “Imma shoot up this school tmr and (girl’s name) XOXO. Love yall. (Girl’s name) ur a (expletive) the school thot (expletive expletive.)”

Inside Lake is not naming the girl due to her age.

The girl, along with several witnesses, reported the threat to school administrators and she said who she believed wrote the threats, according to the affidavit. She said the student made several threats to shoot her because the student believed the girl had called her friend, “fat,” the affidavit states. The girl said she ran into the student three separate times in the bathroom Tuesday, including when she saw the threat on the wall at 3 p.m.

While speaking with the girl, a GPD detective noticed blue marker ink on the girl’s hand that matched the writing on the bathroom wall. The girl gave the detective consent to search her bag and a notebook was found with handwriting similar to the writing on the wall, the affidavit states. After waiving her right not to speak, the girl began to cry and confessed she wrote the threats because she was upset with the student who bullies her. She apologized and said she has hurtful thoughts, the affidavit states.

She was arrested for written threats to conduct a mass shooting and turned over to the Department of Juvenile Justice. 

Two People Killed, Road Ranger Vehicle Struck On Turnpike During “Move Over Month”

ORANGE COUNTY, Florida—One fatal crash turned into another fatal crash early Monday morning, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

Around 3:20 a.m., a 22-year-old female of Orlando was stopped in a sedan for an unknown reason in the right southbound travel lane of Florida’s Turnpike at mile marker 269 near Winter Garden, according to FHP Lt. Kim Montes. A 22-year-old man of Port Clinton, Ohio was traveling southbound in a pickup truck and failed to see the sedan stopped in the travel lane. The truck struck the rear of the sedan, and the female was killed; the pickup truck driver received minor injuries. Both drivers were wearing their seatbelts.

At approximately 5 a.m., emergency responders were working the crash, with only the left southbound lane open. A Road Ranger was parked in the lane next to the open southbound lane with lights and an arrow board activated, assisting with the crash, Montes said. Cones were also placed in the area directing drivers to the open lane. A 32-year-old woman of Kissimmee driving a sedan, failed to slow for the emergency vehicles, drove through the cones and rear-ended the Road Ranger truck. The Road Ranger, a 28-year-old man of Groveland, sustained minor injuries and the woman was transported to Orlando Health – Health Central Hospital in Ocoee, where she later died. She was wearing a seatbelt. Both crashes remain under investigation, Montes said.

January is Move Over Month, a campaign to remind drivers they are required to move over a lane or slow down if they cannot safely move over for emergency and service vehicles. In 2021, there were 191 crashes and more than 14,000 citations written for failure to move over, according to the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT.) “We remind drivers that they need to pay attention at crash scenes, as we are having more emergency vehicles struck, while actively assisting at another crash,’ Montes said.

Neighbor Accused Of Shooting, Killing Dog Because It was In His Trash

GROVELAND, Florida—A man is facing a charge of aggravated animal cruelty after allegedly shooting and killing his neighbor’s dog.

Lake County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to a home on Sandcastle Drive in unincorporated Groveland around 10 a.m.  Jan. 10, according to an arrest affidavit. When they arrived, they found a couple covered in blood who told them their dog had been shot by the neighbor. The man left to take the dog to the emergency vet and the woman told LCSO she walked out to call her dogs and heard a single gunshot.

She observed her older dog limping and noticed it was unable to get through the fence. She told her husband she believed the neighbor shot the dog and when they went to question the neighbor, they found Curtis Aaron Jones, 58, who lives with their neighbor, according to the arrest affidavit. When questioned if he shot the dog, Jones allegedly admitted it and said he shot the dog because it was in his garbage can. The woman told Jones she was going to call law enforcement and when they arrived, they spoke with Jones.

He said he saw two dogs in his trash, yelled and grabbed his shotgun. He told LCSO he did not mean to hurt the dog, he just wanted to shoot next to it and scare it. Deputies spoke to the emergency vet, who said the numerous pellet holes in the dog were consistent with someone shooting directly at the dog, not to miss or scare the dog, the affidavit states. X-rays showed the dog suffered more than 80 pellet wounds from the bird shot and died less than two hours after arriving at the vet.

Jones admitted the dogs were not posing a threat to him at the time he fired the weapon. He was arrested for aggravated animal cruelty and is being held at the Lake County Jail in $5,000 bond. 

Groveland Woman Heartbroken After Horse Shot To Death

GROVELAND, Florida—The Lake County Sheriff’s Office is investigating after a horse was found shot to death Sunday morning near Groveland.

Jackie the horse was found by her owner, Tonya Sanders when Sanders went to feed her Sunday morning on the 13-acre property she owns with her husband, she told Inside Lake.

Sanders found 15-year-old Jackie dead from a gunshot wound around 9 a.m. in her pasture on Indianhouse Lane near State Road 19 in unincorporated Groveland, according to an LCSO report.  Sanders and her husband told LCSO that between 10 and 11 p.m. Saturday they heard two loud booms they believed to be gunshots from inside their home, and their dogs continued to make an excessive amount of noise for several hours. Sanders said they often hear loud noises like tires blowing out in the rural area just outside of Groveland and the dogs bark if they see small animals like possums.

PHOTO CREDIT: Tonya Sanders

When they found Jackie, valued at $10,000, they pulled her out of the pasture, saw blood coming from her nose, and found a small gunshot wound near her kidney and called LCSO.

There were tire tracks near Sanders’ fence and the ground was disturbed inside the pasture; Sanders said it is possible the person responsible coaxed Jackie to the fence and then shot her but does not understand the motive.  She said her “dogs were going bonkers” and they may have spooked the shooter.

The responding deputy found no exit wound on Jackie and noted the horse appeared to have run around the pasture for “some time” before she succumbed to her wound.  As she choked back tears, Sanders told Inside Lake the bullet traveled around inside Jackie’s abdomen and she eventually bled to death.

Deputies canvassed the area for shell casings and were unable to find any. No other shooting incidents were reported in the area to LCSO or neighboring Groveland Police Department, according to the report. The Sanders’ told LCSO they had no suspects in mind.

Other animals are located on the property, but none of them were hurt. Sanders has owned Jackie for about eight years, and they competed in the National Barrel Horse Association for the past year. Sanders was thrown from another horse several years ago and broke her ankle and took some time off.  Jackie was docile and was patient and gentle with Sanders.

PHOTO CREDIT: Tonya Sanders

“I just started back last year, and she took care of me,” Sanders said.

Sanders said a neighboring rancher has offered $2,500 for information leading to the arrest of conviction of Jackie’s killer. Sanders’ sister is matching the donation to bring the total reward to $5,000.

If you have information, call LCSO at 352-343-2101. 

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