Lake County

3 More Victims Come Forward and Allege Abuse by School Safety Officer

TAVARES, Fla.—Three more victims have come forward with accusations against a school safety officer arrested for child rape last month.

James Wolfe, 50, has been behind bars since his arrest Aug. 18 after the Department of Children and Families reported allegations of sexual abuse to Groveland Police Department.

“After a thorough investigation, Groveland Police detectives were able to confirm elements of the allegation and 50-year-old James Wolfe was arrested and charged with sexual battery, engaging in sexual battery with a child under 18 years of age and giving obscene material to a minor,” GPD spokesperson Sarah Panko said in an email last month.

Wolfe was employed as a school safety officer at Mount Dora High School at the time of his arrest and is a former Altamonte Springs police officer.

Following the investigation and Wolfe’s arrest, GPD began working with Altamonte Springs Police Department to identify more victims and three more victims came forward, Panko told Inside Lake.

Wolfe’s abuse of children may have spanned several years, and he is facing a total of 31 charges in Lake County, including 10 counts of sexual battery of a child, 10 counts of sexual battery, eight counts of lewd or lascivious molestation, and one count of giving obscene material to a minor. He continues to be held at the Lake County Jail on no bond.

Previous story: School Safety Officer Accused of Child Rape Held on No Bond – Inside Lake

Suspect in Stolen Vehicle Flees, Rams LCSO Cruiser, Strikes Multiple Stop Sticks, Flees on Foot, Apprehended by K9 Murphy in Leesburg Sunday

LEESBURG, Fla.—A Mount Dora man is facing a slew of charges after ramming a stolen vehicle into a Lake County Sheriff’s Office cruiser, fleeing to Sumter County, striking multiple stop sticks and fleeing back into Lake County where he was finally apprehended Sunday afternoon.

Henry Lee Gamble-Coleman, 26, was spotted around 5 p.m. in Leesburg by LCSO deputies in a vehicle stolen from Eustis, according to an arrest affidavit. Deputies attempted to pull Gamble-Coleman over near the intersection of South 14th Street and South Street and Gamble-Coleman “rapidly” accelerated and struck the passenger side of a K9 cruiser. He fled westbound on State Road 44 under the watchful eye of Eagle One, LCSO’s helicopter and traveled into Sumter County into a neighborhood on Heritage Boulevard.

Deputies again tried to stop Gamble-Coleman and he fled again, striking stop sticks with both passenger-side tires. He continued to flee and struck stop sticks on the driver’s side and turned back onto State Road 44, where he fled toward Lake County, the affidavit states.

Gamble-Coleman continued to flee at a low speed and deputies, fearing he would wreck, shut down the intersection of State Road 44 and County Road 468 and Gamble-Coleman turned onto Weber Avenue, a dead-end street, according to the affidavit.

He pulled into a parking lot on Weber Avenue, exited the stolen vehicle and fled on foot. A K9 handler released K9 Murphy and Gamble-Coleman was apprehended and taken into custody. He refused to identify himself but was later identified using “law enforcement resources” according to the affidavit.

He was arrested for aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer, grand theft auto, fleeing to elude, resisting without violence, driving while license suspended and failure to identify to law enforcement. He was transported to the Lake County Jail where he was booked for at least the 13th time since 2019. He is being held on $16,000 bond.


K9 Murphy is seen here with his handler LCSO Deputy Corey Lebrecque, earlier this year when they were honored as K9 of the Year by the Eustis Elks Lodge. PHOTO: Lake County Sheriff’s Office

Argument Over Dog Feces, Latest in Years Long Neighborhood Feud, Lands Tavares Man in Jail

TAVARES, Fla.—A Tavares man is in the Lake County Jail after video surveillance captured him throwing a bag of dog feces in his neighbors’ driveway and garage and then punching one of the neighbors, the latest incident in a multi-year feud.

Around 6 p.m. Wednesday, Tavares Police Department responded to a home on Sycamore Circle on a report of a battery.  Residents of the home told TPD their neighbor, Ty Alan Heichel, 24, threw a bag of dog feces in their driveway and a verbal argument ensued. During the verbal altercation, Heichel punched the male resident in the face, according to an arrest affidavit.

As the residents explained what happened, Heichel approached the home again, yelling and stating he punched the man in the face and he would do it again, the affidavit states. Heichel was detained and placed in the back of a patrol vehicle while officers investigated.

Video surveillance at the home captured the altercation and showed Heichel launching the bag of feces into the driveway as he walked by the home. The female resident confronted Heichel and told him to pick it up and he continued to walk by, the affidavit states. He soon returned, grabbed the bag and threw it into the open garage, near where the residents were standing.

Heichel approached the male resident, who stepped backed as Heichel approached him and he attempted to push Heichel away as they became face-to-face in the garage. Heichel then threw punches at him and eventually left the property, the video showed. He returned shortly after officers arrived at the residence.

This was the latest incident in an ongoing and escalating feud between Heichel and his neighbors, resulting in repeated calls for service over multiple years, according to the arresting officer. “The issues have continuously progressed and (Heichel) repeatedly shows his violent outbursts towards several others in the community as well as (the victims,) the officer wrote in the affidavit.

Heichel was arrested for burglary and battery and is being held in LCJ on $3,000 bond.

Head-On Collision Kills Umatilla Man, Shuts Down SR 46 Friday

SORRENTO, Fla.—The Florida Highway Patrol is on scene of a crash that killed a Umatilla man and shut down State Road 46 in both directions.

The preliminary investigation revealed a 2009 Hyundai Sonata being driven by a 42-year-old Umatilla man was traveling westbound on State Road 46 near Wekiva Pines Boulevard around 5:40 p.m. when he veered into the eastbound lane and collided with 2022 Ford E-350 being driven by a 49-year-old Deltona man, FHP Lt. Tara Crescenzi said.

The Umatilla man was transported to HCA Florida Lake Monroe Hospital in Sanford, where he was pronounced deceased. The Deltona man and his passenger, a 14-year-old male, were also transported to HCA Lake Monroe Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

The crash shut down State Road 46 between County Road 46A and Osprey Hammock Trail and it was still shut down at press time.

Name of Pedestrian Killed in Leesburg Last Week Released

LEESBURG, Fla.—Leesburg Police Department has released the name of the pedestrian killed in a crash Sept. 8.

Stanley L. Rollins, 59, Mount Dora, was crossing U.S. Highway 441, near Mt. Vernon Road, just after 4:30 p.m. Sept. 8, when he was struck by a silver 2010 Nissan traveling north on U.S. Highway 441 and being driven by Alexander Aguilar, 19, of Leesburg, according to LPD Capt. Joe Iozzi. The investigation into the crash closed several lanes of traffic on U.S. Highway 441.

Rollins was pronounced deceased on the scene; the crash remains under investigation.

Photo courtesy of Joshua Moore

Operation Poison Control Results in 21 Arrest Warrants, 50 Charges

TAVARES, Florida—A six-month long undercover drug investigation targeting fentanyl traffickers has wrapped up with the arrests of 15 people and six more are on the run, according to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office.

A joint operation between LCSO’s Special Investigations Bureau, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the City County Investigation Bureau— which includes police officers from Clermont, Eustis, Leesburg and Mount Dora—uncovered a variety of illegal narcotics being distributed throughout the county, including trafficking amounts of deadly fentanyl, methamphetamine, cocaine and MDMA.


Law enforcement developed information from the public to aid in the investigation and obtained warrants for 21 individuals on a total of 50 charges that range from trafficking in narcotics to minor possession.

“Operations like this and the many we have done in the past save lives. I’m proud of the dedication and commitment of our undercover agents to keep Lake County safe,” Said Sheriff Peyton Grinnell.

Six people involved in the case have eluded authorities and are still being sought: Scottie Crosby, George Medina, Jason Simpson, Kourtney Smith, Tyson Smith and Derrick Walker.


Few Details Released in Leesburg Crash that Killed Pedestrian Friday, Investigation Ongoing

LEESBURG, Fla.—Leesburg Police Department has released few details about the crash that killed a pedestrian on U.S. Highway 441 Friday afternoon.

The pedestrian, a 59-year-old male of Mount Dora, was crossing U.S. Highway 441, near Mt. Vernon Road, just after 4:30 p.m. Friday, when he was struck by a silver 2010 Nissan traveling north on U.S. Highway 441 and being driven by Alexander Aguilar, 19, of Leesburg, according to LPD Capt. Joe Iozzi. The investigation into the crash closed several lanes of traffic on U.S. Highway 441.

The pedestrian was pronounced deceased on the scene and his name still has not been released pending notification of next of kin, Iozzi told Inside Lake. The crash remains under investigation.

Leesburg Police Investigating Fatal Crash Involving Pedestrian Friday Afternoon

LEESBURG, Fla.—Leesburg Police Department is investigating a fatal crash involving a pedestrian that occurred late Friday afternoon.

The crash occurred at U.S. Highway 441 and Mt. Vernon Road and closed the inside lanes of U.S. Highway 441; the center and outside lanes are open, according to a social media post by LPD around 5 p.m. Friday. Police are urging motorists to use caution in the area.

This is a developing story.

Clermont Police Bust Tampa Man with “Blatantly Counterfeit” $100 Bills

CLERMONT, Fla.—A man wanted in Tennessee for passing counterfeit money and already on probation in Hillsborough County, was arrested Tuesday, along with a teenager, after Clermont Police Department found him with counterfeit $100 bills, according to an arrest affidavit.

Shortly before 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, CPD responded to Advance Discount Auto Parts, 2655 East Highway 50, on a report of people passing counterfeit bills. The caller described one of the suspects, the affidavit states.

About 20 minutes later, members of CPD’s Crime Suppression Unit spotted a white Nissan pull into the parking lot of Auto Zone, 200 West Highway 50, bypass several parking spots in front of the building and park on the side, out of view, the arresting officer noted in the affidavit.

A CPD sergeant watched the vehicle from an unmarked unit and witnessed a total of three individuals exit the car and enter the store and one suspect returned to the car. Each individual made the trip alone, and one of the individuals matched the description of the suspect in the original call, according to the affidavit.

CPD approached the lone individual in the car and identified her as a juvenile female; her name was not released. Officers entered Auto Zone and found Malik Shamari Jones, 20, of Tampa, trying to leave the store with some items and the second individual, identified as Norvis Jerimane Heflin, 17, also of Tampa, was standing at the register, according to the affidavit.

Jones initially resisted and when a sergeant drew his taser, Jones complied and went to the ground and Heflin complied when he was ordered to the ground. Jones was searched and found with a $100 counterfeit bill in his wallet and Auto Zone employees said Jones and the juvenile female used a total of six counterfeit $100 bills to purchase items. CPD took possession of those bills that were “blatantly counterfeit.”

Heflin was still standing in line when police entered the building, but he was found in possession of two counterfeit bills and arrested for that; he was also arrested for uttering forged instruments and petit theft for the incident at Advance Discount Auto Parts. He was turned over to the Department of Juvenile Justice.

While detaining the juvenile female who was found in the Nissan, police smelled marijuana and upon searching the car, they found more counterfeit bills and receipts from other businesses. Jones was arrested for four counts of uttering forged bills, resisting without violence, four counts of contributing to the delinquency of a child and petit theft. He is being held on no bond due to being on probation in Hillsborough County. He likely will not be extradited to Tennessee because the warrants states Tennessee will extradite only within a 250-mile radius.

The Villages Golf Cart Driver in Serious Condition Following Collision with Car

THE VILLAGES, Fla.—A 89-year-old man is in serious condition after driving his golf cart into the path of a car Tuesday morning, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

The 89-year-old man of The Villages was driving a golf cart northbound on a golf cart path shortly before 8 a.m. when he turned left in front of a car near Woodridge Drive in Sumter County, according to FHP.

The golf cart driver struck the left side of the car, being driven by a 69-year-old Lady Lake man. The golf cart driver was seriously injured; the Lady Lake man and his 69-year-old female passenger were not injured, FHP said.

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