Leesburg

Leesburg Woman Accused of Shooting 2 People Last Week in Custody

LEESBURG, Fla.—The woman accused of shooting two people in Leesburg last week is in custody after turning herself in to the Lake County Jail Sunday, according to Leesburg Police Department Capt. Joe Iozzi.

Ra’Niyah M. Benton, 20, is accused of shooting a male and a female in the 1000 block of Crosby Steet in Leesburg around 4 p.m. Thursday. The victims went to UF Health Leesburg hospital on their own and the male victim was later flown to UF Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville as a precaution, Iozzi said last week. Their current conditions are unknown.

Benton is facing two counts of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and is being held on no bond.

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Argument Leads to Shooting and Lands Leesburg Man in Jail

LEESBURG, Fla.—A Leesburg man is being held in the Lake County Jail on no bond after shooting another man in unincorporated Leesburg late Monday night.

Lake County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to a home on County Road 452 shortly before 11:30 p.m. Monday on a report of an argument between Brandon Saunders and Mike Ford, according to an arrest affidavit.

When deputies arrived, they found Ford lying on the ground suffering from two gunshot wounds and they began rendering aid to Ford, who was in and out of consciousness. He told deputies Saunders came after him and Ford “laid him out.” As he made his way back to his truck, Saunders began shooting at him.; Ford said he believed Saunders was trying to shoot him in the head. He was airlifted to Orlando Regional Medical Center and is in stable condition, according to the affidavit.

While deputies were aiding Ford, Saunders came out of a tree line and “spontaneously” uttered he shot Ford, the affidavit states. Saunders, 41, was then searched and placed in the back of a patrol car.

A witness told deputies Ford came to the home upset and looking for his girlfriend and the witness was inside when the pair started arguing. The witness went outside, and Saunders handed her the gun, which she hid in the backyard. She gave deputies permission to enter the property and they located the gun. Two shell casings were also found at the scene. Ford’s girlfriend told deputies the couple had argued earlier and she went to the home on County Road 452 to stay with her friend.

Saunders, who was holding a beer can at the time of the incident and had the smell of alcohol on his breath, invoked his right to remain silent. Saunders is a three-time convicted felon and was arrested for attempted felony murder and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He was transported to the Lake County Jail, where he remains on no bond.

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Leesburg Police Searching for Shooting Suspect

LEESBURG, Fla—Leesburg Police Department is searching for a suspect who shot two people Thursday afternoon, according to LPD Capt. Joe Iozzi.

Around 4 p.m. LPD responded to UF Health Leesburg Hospital regarding a shooting and found two victims, Iozzi said. Police determined the two victims, a 28-year-old male and a 20-year-old female were shot in the 1000 block of Crosby Street, about 10 blocks from the hospital. The male was flown to UF Health Shands Hospital inn Gainesville as a precaution and both victims are in stable condition.

Leesburg Police Department investigates after two people were shot on Crosby Street Thursday afternoon. Photo courtesy of Amy Smalley

Police are now searching for Ra’Niyah M. Benton, 20, who is wanted for two counts of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon; she is considered armed and dangerous; if you know Benton’s whereabouts, call LPD at 352-787-2121.

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Man Writes 4-Page Apology Letter after Carjacking Elderly Relative

OKAHUMPKA, Fla.—A 27-year-old man is behind bars after an elderly woman he is related to reported he stole her car and battered her Tuesday.

Around 10:15 p.m. Tuesday, the 77-year-old woman told deputies Alan Aspinwall wanted her to unlock her 2018 Toyota Corolla so he could get something out of the trunk in Okahumpka, according to an arrest affidavit.

As she walked outside, Aspinwall grabbed the key from her, cutting her left hand, and then forcefully pushed her to the ground. He then jumped into the Corolla and fled the scene. She identified Aspinall as her relative, but the exact relationship is redacted from the affidavit.

On Wednesday morning, Leesburg Police Department located the car in the 2100 block of Johns Avenue and around 2:15 p.m. officers located Aspinwall and took him into custody, the affidavit states.

Aspinwall denied taking the car, but said he felt “remorseful” for what happened and wrote a four-page apology letter to the victim, according to the affidavit.

Aspinwall, who is designated as a violent felony offender due to prior convictions, was arrested for unarmed carjacking, battery on a person over 65 and theft from a person over 65. He is also facing an added charge of exposure of sexual organs in a separate incident, but details of that case were not available at press time.

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

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Leesburg Police Investigating Possible Gun Battle in Busy Shopping Center Sunday Night

LEESBURG, Fla.—Leesburg Police Department is investigating after a man was shot around 9 p.m. Sunday night in a busy shopping center and police have few details, according to LPD Capt. Joe Iozzi.

“The person shot is an adult male and evidence suggests there was an exchange of gunfire between at least two people at Southside Plaza, one possibly being the person who was shot,” Iozzi said.

Police have not been able to interview the man due to his injuries and subsequent surgery, according to Iozzi. If you have information on the shooting, call LPD at 352-787-2121.

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Pedestrian Killed Near Leesburg Wednesday Morning

LEESBURG, Fla.—A pedestrian walking in the road was struck and killed in Leesburg Wednesday morning, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

Around 6:30 a.m., a 63-year-old Leesburg man was driving a 2020 Volkswagen Passat eastbound on Griffin Road near Pioneer Trail when he struck a 55-year-old Leesburg man who was walking in the eastbound lane of Griffin Road, FHP Lt. Tara Crescenzi said.

The pedestrian was transported to UF Health Leesburg Hospital and pronounced deceased; the driver of the Passat was not injured. He remained on scene and told troopers he did not see the man walking in the road. The crash remains under investigation, Crescenzi said.

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Accused Leesburg Killer Surrenders

LEESBURG, Fla.—The teenager accused of killing a Leesburg man Wednesday has surrendered and is in the Lake County Jail, according to a Leesburg Police Department social media post.

Kevin Harrison, 19, is accused of shooting Lekendre Hall, 37, at a home at 1906 West Main Street around 8:45 p.m. Wednesday. LPD responded to the scene and found Hall lying on the ground suffering from at least one gunshot wound; he was transported to UF Health Leesburg, where he was pronounced deceased from his injuries, Capt. Joe Iozzi said Thursday.

Crime scene investigators and detectives responded to the scene and Harrison was identified as the suspect after several witnesses were interviewed, Iozzi said.

Harrison is charged with second-degree murder and is being held on no bond. Police have not released a motive for the killing.

Previous story: Leesburg Police Searching for Accused Killer – Inside Lake

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Leesburg Police Searching for Accused Killer

LEESBURG, Fla.—Leesburg Police Department is searching for a man they say shot and killed another man on Main Street Wednesday night.

LPD responded to 1906 West Main Steet around 8:45 p.m. and found Lekendre Hall, 37, lying on the ground suffering from at least one gunshot wound. He was transported to UF Health Leesburg where he pronounced deceased, according to Capt. Joe Iozzi.

“Leesburg officers secured the crime scene and detectives were then summoned along with Leesburg CSI,” Iozzi said, and after interviewing multiple witnesses, Kevin Harrison, 19, was identified as the shooter.

Harrison has not been apprehended and LPD has not released a motive for the killing. If you have information on Harrison’s whereabouts, call LPD at 352-787-2121.

 

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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.

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Leesburg Woman Arrested for Attempted Murder Held on No Bond

LEESBURG, Fla.—A Leesburg woman is being held in the Lake County Jail on no bond after she admitted she stabbed another woman, according to an arrest affidavit.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call early Wednesday morning stating a person had been stabbed at home in unincorporated Leesburg. The address where the stabbing occurred is redacted from the affidavit, but sources told Inside Lake it occurred on Kaylee Way, near Radio Road. The victim, whose name is also redacted from the affidavit, had approximately seven injuries “consistent with being stabbed with a knife or other edged implement,” and was “bleeding profusely.” She told police Jillian Joan Viccaro, 24, stabbed her.

The relationship between the victim and Viccaro is also redacted from the affidavit, but LCSO Public Information Officer Chanel Martin told Inside Lake, the crime “is domestic in nature.” The victim was transported to an area hospital and is in stable condition, Martin said.

Deputies located Viccaro, who had no visible injuries, and she admitted to the stabbing, but said the victim attacked her first by “lunging at her,” the affidavit states. Viccaro was arrested for attempted domestic murder and aggravated domestic battery and transported to the Lake County Jail.

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