Minneola Man Captured on Video Stealing from Several Downtown Clermont Businesses

CLERMONT, Florida—A Minneola man is behind bars after video surveillance captured him stealing from several businesses at the Montrose Street Market early Monday.

Clermont Police responded to 793 West Montrose Street after the victim reported his security cameras caught a man, later identified as Michael Jacob Mathis, 21, entering the business around 2:30 a.m. through a door that was accidentally left unlocked by a cleaner, according to an arrest affidavit.

Mathis, wearing a white hoodie and dark pants, did not cover his face or wear gloves as he made his way through the market, which houses several vendors. He stole multiple items, including two iPhones, one from Design Sushi and a second one from Brave Burger; he also stole a tip jar from Brave Burger that contained approximately $10. He stole 50 cents from The Tasty Crepes and dropped a soda can, he then grabbed a drink and a tip jar that contained $70 from Pico Bistro, the affidavit states.

The video also showed Mathis wearing “very noticeable” tan work boots and carrying a black bag with a red stripe during his crime spree.

Later the same day, the complainant’s assistant reported seeing Mathis walking down Lake Minneola Shores Road in Minneola wearing the same boots and carrying the same bag, according to the affidavit. Lake County Sheriff’s Office deputies stopped Mathis and upon running his name, they found he had a Marion County warrant for failure to appear for petit theft.

Mathis was searched and he was found with a small bag of methamphetamine, a glass pipe with residue, a cut straw and several small baggies that contained residue; he also had a small bag of marijuana, according to the affidavit.

Mathis denied being in the market but was found with the phone the belonged to Design Sushi and $72 in small denominations that would be consistent with cash in a tip jar. Mathis was arrested for burglary, four counts of petit theft, possession of methamphetamine, possession of marijuana and possession of paraphernalia. His bond on those charges is $18,000 but he is being held on a detainer for the Marion County warrant.

Leesburg Man Accused of Shooting at Truck with 5-Year-old Child in it During Road Rage Incident on Florida’s Turnpike

OSCEOLA COUNTY, Florida—A Leesburg man is being held in the Osceola County Jail on no bond, accused of shooting a truck that contained a 5-year-old child in a road rage incident on Florida’s Turnpike Sunday, according to the Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Tara Crescenzi.

A trooper was conducting traffic enforcement in the median of Florida’s Turnpike near Kenansville shortly before 6:30 p.m. Sunday when he observed a white sedan driving recklessly and changing lanes around a white pickup truck in the northbound lanes.

The trooper made his way into traffic and watched the white car continue to improperly change lanes at speeds of more than 100 miles per hour until it was caught in traffic, according to an incident report. FHP pulled the car over and ordered the occupants to exit the vehicle. The driver, Zion Zaire Vincent Waller, 22, and his passenger, a 22-year-old woman from Minneola, exited the vehicle and Waller was immediately placed under arrest for reckless driving. His passenger was detained and placed in a patrol vehicle; Inside Lake is not naming the Minneola woman because she was not charged with a crime. Troopers began to inventory the vehicle before it was towed and discovered a Premier Firearms 556 rifle and a Glock 45 handgun in plain view, the report states.

Zion Waller is seen here in his January 2023 Lake County Jail mugshot. Waller was arrested in Lake County in January for domestic battery by strangulation and two counts of child abuse. The charges were dropped just two days before the road rage incident.

As they inventoried the car, a white pickup truck pulled up to the scene and the driver told troopers his truck had been shot by Waller and pointed to a bullet hole on the left side of the truck between the driver’s door and the passenger door. The driver said the white sedan had been driving erratically around the truck before shooting at it, while it contained him, another adult and a 5-year-old child, according to the report.

FHP questioned Waller, who said he was involved in a road rage incident with the truck several miles south and the driver of the truck pointed what appeared to be a weapon at him. Waller told troopers he feared for his life and shot one round at the truck and sped up to get away. Waller said he did not call 9-1-1 because he did not “feel safe” pulling over, the report states. His passenger, the Minneola woman, told troopers Waller shot at the truck, attempting to shoot at the tires.

A bullet hole in a truck is seen here following a road rage incident involving a Leesburg man Sunday. PHOTO: Florida Highway Patrol

The driver of the truck consented to a search and no weapons were found in the vehicle.

Waller was arrested for three counts of attempted murder, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, shooting into an occupied vehicle, carrying a concealed firearm and reckless driving. He was transported to the Osceola County Jail, where he is being held on no bond. The occupants of the truck were not injured.

Waller was arrested in Lake County in January for domestic battery by strangulation and two counts of child abuse. The charges were dropped just two days before the road rage incident.

4 Teenagers Arrested Sunday After Mount Dora Resident Catches Their Misdeeds on Camera

MOUNT DORA, Florida—Four suspected vehicle burglars were nabbed after a resident notified Mount Dora Police Department his home security system captured them checking the door handles of at least six vehicles early Sunday morning.

MDPD responded to the area of Mount Dora Apartments, 3001 Northland Road just before 5 a.m. Sunday after receiving a 9-1-1 call from a resident who said his cameras captured four teens in an older red Toyota sedan checking door handles, according to several arrest affidavits. An officer located the suspected vehicle nearby at Epic Theaters, 2300 Spring Harbor Boulevard and blocked it in and attempted a traffic stop in the parking lot. The Toyota stopped momentarily before fleeing off the pavement and then drove into a canal, and struck a tree and surrounding brush.

MDPD ordered the occupants out of the car at gunpoint and the foursome complied and were taken into custody and separated. They were identified as J’son Rashad Cyprian, 18, of Orlando, Nickoy Orlando Brown, 16, of Ocoee, Torey Williams, 17, of Minneola, and Joseph Faudy, 15, of Orlando. Police searched the rental car and found a small bag of marijuana in the right, front passenger door pocket and a red and black SCCY 9mm handgun was found tucked under the driver’s seat. Most of the interior of the gun was replaced with aluminum foil, and the plate containing the serial number was removed, the arresting officer noted in the affidavit.

J’son Cyprian PHOTO: Lake County Sheriff’s Office

Officers found a drum magazine with 69 rounds laying on the floorboard of the front passenger seat, and two gloves and an empty holster were found in the back seat, according to the affidavit.

Cyprian, of Orlando, pleaded guilty to armed robbery less than a year ago and was adjudicated delinquent, the equivalent of a conviction for an adult. In this case, he was arrested for possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon, fleeing and eluding, altering a firearm, attempted burglary and three counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. He is being held in the Lake County Jail on $35,000 bond.

Faudy told police he was threatened with violence if he did not participate in the burglaries; he was arrested for attempted burglary and possession of marijuana. Williams and Brown were arrested for attempted burglary. It is unclear if Brown, Faudy and Williams were released to their parents, or if they were turned over to the Department of Juvenile Justice, due to incomplete paperwork.   

State Attorney Creates Animal Cruelty Task Force

OCALA, Florida—In an effort to streamline delivering justice to those who hurt animals, State Attorney Bill Gladson has created an Animal Cruelty Task Force for the Fifth Judicial Circuit that includes Lake, Citrus, Hernando, Marion and Sumter counties, his office said in a press release last week.

The task force includes the Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC,) county animal services, and local law enforcement agencies and the goal is for law enforcement, animal services and animal protection organizations to work together to investigate and prosecute animal cruelty crimes throughout the circuit, according to the press release.

State Attorney Bill Gladson PHOTO: Florida Bar

“My office is committed to aggressively prosecuting animal cruelty cases, and I am grateful for the team which shares our commitment,” Gladson stated. “The reach of these crimes goes beyond harm to innocent animals; these criminals pose a risk to the entire community.”

Animal abusers are five times more likely to commit violent crimes against people, according to the Animal Legal Defense Fund, nearly 70 percent have criminal records.

Suspect Who Fled Crash that Killed Teen Confessed to FHP, According to Report

MONTVERDE, Florida—The man who hit a high school freshman earlier this week was found by his boss using a tracking device and turned over to the Florida Highway Patrol, along with the two occupants who were in the car with him, and the driver confessed to the crime, according to a report.

Owen Wells, 14, a ninth grader at Lake Minneola High School, was killed around 6:20 a.m. Thursday on County Road 455 near Willo Pines Lane when he was struck by a Pontiac G6 being driven by Enrique Ramirez, 57, of Winter Garden. The impact threw the teen into the southbound lane of County Road 455 and Owen was then struck a second time by a Dodge Ram being driven by Jeffrey Bolin, 59, of Ferndale. Bolin stopped after the crash, stayed on scene and gave troopers a statement; Ramirez stopped briefly and then fled the scene, he told troopers.

According to the arrest report, Ramirez said he was “scared” and believed because other people stopped, he did not have to; Ramirez had two of his coworkers in his car when he hit Owen. The trio fled to their boss’ house a few miles away, left the vehicle with the damaged left headlight, picked up a work truck for the landscaping business they work for and went about their day.

Owen Wells and his two younger brothers PHOTO: GoFundMe/Support for the Wells’s Family

Lake County Sheriff’s Office deputies located the vehicle in front of the home just a few miles from the scene of the crash. Troopers responded and observed damage consistent with the crash and it matched “perfectly” to reflectors and mirror housing parts left on the scene, according to the report. They spoke with Esdras Rivera, owner of the landscaping business, who told them Ramirez and his buddies, Alberto Perez Hernandez and Francisco Javier Zacarias Cononado, were “acting weird” and seemed “very short” when they arrived earlier to pick up the work truck.

Rivera told troopers he had a tracking device on the work truck and could locate Ramirez. The Pontiac was towed by FHP for processing with an FHP sergeant following close behind, according to the report. Rivera located Ramirez, Hernandez and Cononado, picked them up and took the trio to the FHP station on Semoran Boulevard in Orlando where they were questioned, the report states. Attempts to reach Rivera for comment were unsuccessful.

 All three were interviewed by troopers and Ramirez admitted he was driving the Pontiac at about 40 miles per hour northbound on County Road 455 when he saw a person’s shadow on the roadway and swerved to avoid the person. He said he struck the person, and the person was struck by a truck, according to the report.

Enrique Ramirez

Ramirez said he stopped briefly, then left the scene because he was “scared” and “others had stopped so he thought he could leave,” the report states. Ramirez’ passengers, Hernandez and Cononado both admitted they were passengers in the car at the time of the crash and fled the scene. They have not been charged and FHP has turned its findings over to the State Attorney’s Office for review, FHP Lt. Tara Crescenzi told Inside Lake.

Ramirez was arrested for leaving the scene of a crash involving death and transported to the Lake County Jail. Troopers requested no bond when he was booked into the jail, and the bond has since been lowered to $100,000. Ramirez remained in LCJ at press time.

An account has been set up to help support Owen’s family, to donate, visit Support for the Wells Family

FHP Arrests Man in Hit and Run Death of Teenager

TAVARES, Florida—The man accused of hitting a Lake Minneola High School freshman and leaving the scene shortly before daybreak Thursday has been arrested, the Florida Highway Patrol said Thursday night.

Enrique Ramirez, 57, of Winter Garden was arrested by FHP for leaving the scene of a crash involving death, FHP Lt. Tara Crescenzi said. The boy, whose name was not released, was walking across the lanes of County Road 455 near Willow Pines Lane just before 6:30 a.m. Thursday when he entered the path of a 2007 Pontiac G6 being driven by Ramirez and was struck by the front left of the car. The impact threw the 14-year-old into the southbound lane of County Road 455, where he was struck a second time by a 2006 Dodge Ram being driven by a 59-year-old Ferndale man, Crescenzi said. Ramirez and the driver of the Ram were not injured.

Ramirez fled the scene, and the car was later found by Lake County Sheriff’s Office deputies. Troopers questioned the registered owner of the car and their investigation led to Ramirez.

Ramirez was was arrested for hit and run resulting in death. He was transported to the Lake County Jail where he is being held on no bond.

Silver Alert Issued for Minneola Man Diagnosed with Dementia

MINNEOLA, Florida—The Lake County Sheriff’s Office has issued a silver alert for a man who was recently diagnosed with dementia and has not been seen since early Tuesday night.

Rodger Stambaugh, 69, left his home at 825 Elm Forrest Drive in Minneola around 7:15 p.m. Tuesday and has not been seen or heard from since, LCSO Lt. John Herrell said in an email.

Stambaugh is balding with grey hair, a grey beard and has green eyes; he is 6’1” and should be driving a 2020 black Kia Soul hatchback with temporary tag DGD 5348.

If you have information on Stambaugh’s whereabouts, call LCSO at 352-343-2101.  

Written Threat Places Lake Minneola High School on Lockdown

MINNEOLA, Florida—The Lake County Sheriff’s Office is investigating after a written shooting threat was received at Lake Minneola High School Thursday afternoon, according to Lt. John Herrell.

The threat was received around 1:20 p.m., about 10 minutes before classes change and the school, located at 101 North Hancock Road, was placed on lockdown out of an abundance of caution, Herrell told Inside Lake. The school was checked and deemed safe. No one has been arrested.

The threat delayed dismissal for around 10 minutes and there is a heavy law enforcement presence at the school, Herrell said

A written threat to kill is a felony charge and the names of juveniles arrested for felonies are public record. This is at least the fourth incident in Lake County Schools since the school year began a little more than a month ago.

Man Reports Being Stabbed, Gets Arrested

MINNEOLA, Florida—A homeless man who called to report a man stabbed him ended up in jail after it was found he first attacked the man with a PVC pipe.

Cody Lee Stout, 25, called 9-1-1 around 6:30 p.m. Thursday and reported a homeless white male stabbed him at Minneola Trailhead Park. LCSO located Stout in Clermont and he said a homeless man named Eric had stabbed him at a homeless camp located behind a business on Jan Mar Court in Minneola, according to an arrested affidavit.

Stout, who is also homeless, said he got into a heated argument with the man over belongings at the homeless camp and the man stabbed him twice with a blue pocket knife. The deputy noted two “very small superficial puncture(s)” on Stout’s back shoulder and inner forearm, according to the affidavit.

Deputies contacted the man accused of stabbing Stout and he said the pair did get into a verbal argument and Stout picked up a PVC pipe approximately six feet long and struck him in the face near his eye and cheek. Stout hit the victim a second time in the same place and the victim pulled the knife from his pocket. Stout raised his arms a third time and the victim grabbed Stout in a bear hug and the knife struck Stout’s shoulder.  The victim told LCSO he believed the cut on Stout’s forearm was caused by Stout’s repeated attempts to attack him.

The victim was transported to a local hospital by Lake EMS for his facial wounds. Stout was arrested Sunday for aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and he is being held in the Lake County Jail on $2,500 bond.  

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