Mount Dora

Multiple Agencies Assist In Apprehension Of Man Wanted On Federal Charges In Tavares Thursday Night

TAVARES, Florida—A man wanted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) was picked up on a federal warrant at a Tavares motel Thursday night.

Timothy Eric “Tater” Evans, 40, was apprehended near La Bella Inn, 101 West Burleigh Boulevard, and multiple agencies assisted around 9 p.m. Thursday. Several witnesses, who asked not to be identified by Inside Lake, said they heard flash bangs and saw a heavy law enforcement presence.

“I heard a huge bang and then I heard a megaphone, but I couldn’t make out the words,” said a witness who lives nearby.

PHOTO: Lake County Sheriff’s Office

“We assisted ATF, FDLE (Florida Department of Law Enforcement) and Mount Dora Police Department in the apprehension of Timothy Evans on an active federal warrant,” TPD Public Information Officer Courtney Sullivan told Inside Lake. TPD also transported Evans to the Lake County Jail, according to a report.

According to an MDPD report, officers from that agency assisted with blocking eastbound traffic on U.S. Highway 441 near the motel and Evans and another male were ordered out of the vehicle they were in and taken into custody without incident. The vehicle was then towed to MDPD for secure storage.

Very limited information is available, due to a sealed indictment from ATF, but according to LCJ online records, where Evans was first held, he is facing a charge of possession of a firearm and ammunition affecting commerce by a convicted felon. He was held at LCJ for a little over eight hours and it is unclear where he is being held now.

The large law enforcement presence in this normally quiet area, located just a few blocks from Lake County Schools district offices, garnered numerous social media posts Thursday night.

Multiple sources, as far back as November 2021, have told Inside Lake Evans is suspected of committing a high-profile crime in the area and more charges may be forthcoming.

Third Teenager Arrested In Gang-Related Shooting

EUSTIS, Florida—A 14-year-old has now been arrested for his involvement in one of a series of gang-related shootings in recent months.

Kristine Moriel Morris, of Eustis, was picked up Monday on charges related to a drive-by shooting on Feb. 7 in the 1200 block of East Hazzard Avenue. Artavious “Kutt” Williams, 16, and Robert “Swag” Sharp, 16, were arrested last month and more arrests may be forthcoming.

Eustis Police responded to the scene in February and found a bullet hit a home and a tree, along with four shell casings in the roadway, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Police spoke to witnesses and found that two cars pulled up to children playing basketball near the shooting and asked where someone was by their nickname, “Cherry Lake.” “Cherry Lake” is a known gang member, affiliated with the “510 Gang.” Inside Lake is not naming “Cherry Lake” by his real name, because he has not been charged with a crime. The males then got back into one of the vehicles and another witness described the same vehicle driving by her apartment and firing shots.

The “4wayy” gang has been investigated for several shootings dating back to November 2020, according to Eustis Police Chief Craig Capri. Police believe there is a rivalry between “510 Gang” that is comprised of mostly juveniles who live in or grew up in Eustis, and “4wayy” that is comprised of mostly juveniles who live in or grew up in Mount Dora. Police are still investigating the motive behind the rivalry.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office, Mount Dora Police Department and Tavares Police Department have all been working with EPD, Capri told Inside Lake. Capri’s own officers have been working hard to talk to witnesses and gather evidence to make arrests.

“I am very proud of the men and women of Eustis Police Department and the work they have put in on these cases,” Capri said last month.

This rivalry began more than a year ago and there have been 15 to 20 shootings reported to law enforcement involving these two gangs in a little over a year, and police believe there are more that have been unreported, Capri said. Most were drive-by shootings where no one was injured. The home on Hazzard Avenue has been shot at, at least four times in the last few months.

Though it is believed to have begun earlier in November 2020, on Nov. 27, 2020, a woman, who was not the target, was hit by one of three shots fired in downtown Eustis following the city’s annual “Light Up Eustis” festivities. This reporter was the only media on scene following that incident. Brycen Jacobe Williams, then 17, was arrested less than two months later for the shooting.

In this most recent shooting on Feb. 7, a tipster showed police a Snapchat story posted by Williams that showed EPD cars on the scene with the caption, “Ain’t Nomoee Who Dat, We Shoot Dat.”

Gang members from both sides have utilized social media to get “street credit,” and videos and photos were discovered showing the car, a white Dodge Dart, suspected in the Feb. 7 shooting near the shooting location. The photos and videos were recorded just six minutes before the shots were fired.

Editor’s note: Although Brycen Williams, who was arrested for the Light Up Eustis shooting, and Artavious Williams are both said to be gang members and have the same last name, they are not related according to EPD.

Police also believe the shooting at Sunset Island Park on Jan. 22 involves some “4wayy” members, but the shooting was random, Capri told Inside Lake. Thomas Saliba, 17, was shot in the face during a 3-year-old’s birthday party, but was not targeted, Capri said. It is believed that the individuals involved in that shooting just randomly decided to shoot up a park, he said. One person has been arrested in that case.

Former Mount Dora City Council Member Arrested For Cutting Trees Down And Disturbing Grave Markers At African American Civil War Cemetery

MOUNT DORA, Florida—A former Mount Dora city council member was arrested Monday—on the last day of Black History Month—for removing and damaging trees that fell on grave markers in an African American Civil War Cemetery, according to an arrest affidavit.

Edward Lee Rowlett, 74, admitted to Mount Dora Police he hired a tree service to cut the trees down after police were called by a Country Club of Mount Dora Board (CCMD) member. He told MDPD there were two grave markers under the refuge left by the tree company and the responding officer performed an internet search of the cemetery and found there were three grave markers in that area, one with the name, Smith; a second with the name Jonnie Haynes and a third with the name, John Scoggins. All three were killed in the Civil War.

It is unclear when and how long Rowlett served on the city council; the city’s public information officer did not respond to an email before press time.

“The trail is clearly marked as City of Mount Dora (private cemetery) historic preservation board,” the arresting officer noted in the affidavit. While speaking with officers, Rowlett said when he was a member of the city council, he voted to have that sign created and erected on behalf of the historical meaning of the cemetery.

Rowlett told police he was trying to keep the trees from falling on his home and he attempted to get a permit from the city. He said the City of Mount Dora told him the trees were part of CCMD’s HOA and did not belong to the city. He then went to CCMD and was told the trees could not be removed, “because it was a historical cemetery and they would not allow it,” the affidavit states.

Rowlett was arrested for one count of injuring a tomb or monument, one count of destroying a tree within a tomb or monument and disturbing an unmarked burial. He was transported to the Lake County Jail, where he was released on $15,000 bond.

Rivalry Between Juvenile Gangs Responsible For Multiple Shootings, Police Say. Several Law Enforcement Agencies Working Together

EUSTIS, Florida—Tavares Police arrested a teenager last week on a juvenile pickup order for shooting at an apartment with children inside earlier this month while another group of children played basketball just 350 feet away, and Eustis Police say it is just one shooting in a string of violent encounters between two rival gangs that has lasted for more than a year.

Shortly before 6 p.m. Feb. 7, EPD responded to a drive-by shooting in the 1200 block of East Hazzard Avenue, and found a bullet hit a home and a tree, along with four shell casings in the roadway, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Police spoke to witnesses and found that two cars pulled up to the children playing basketball and asked where someone was by their nickname, “Cherry Lake.” “Cherry Lake” is a known gang member, affiliated with the “510 Gang.” Inside Lake is not naming “Cherry Lake” by his real name, because he has not been charged with a crime. The males then got back into one of the vehicles and left; another witness described the same vehicle driving by her apartment and firing shots.

The “4wayy” gang has been investigated for several shootings dating back to November 2020, according to Eustis Police Chief Craig Capri. Police believe there is a rivalry between “510 Gang” that is comprised of mostly juveniles who live in or grew up in Eustis, and “4wayy” that is comprised of mostly juveniles who live in or grew up in Mount Dora. Police are still investigating the motive behind the rivalry; they have received information that it started over stolen guns, a female, drugs, and trash talking, according to an EPD detective working the case.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office, Mount Dora Police Department and Tavares Police Department have all been working together, gathering intelligence and trading information, Capri told Inside Lake. Capri’s own officers have been working hard to talk to witnesses and gather evidence to make arrests.

“I am very proud of the men and women of Eustis Police Department and the work they have put in on these cases,” Capri said.

This rivalry began more than a year ago and there have been 15 to 20 shootings reported to law enforcement involving these two gangs in a little over a year, and police believe there are more that have been unreported, Capri said, and most were drive-by shootings where no one was injured. The home on Hazzard Avenue has been shot at, at least four times in the last few months, an EPD detective close to the investigation said. Police are still working to figure out exactly what started it, Capri said. Though it is believed to have begun earlier in November 2020, on Nov. 27, 2020, a woman, who was an innocent bystander, was shot in downtown Eustis following the city’s annual “Light Up Eustis” festivities. She was standing in the brick area near Wells Fargo Advisors and Sol De Mexico when she was hit by one of the three shots fired. This reporter was the only media on scene following that incident. Brycen Jacobe Williams, then 17, was arrested less than two months later for the shooting.

In this most recent shooting on Feb. 7, a tipster showed police a Snapchat story posted by Williams that showed EPD cars on the scene with the caption, “Ain’t Nomoee Who Dat, We Shoot Dat.”

Gang members from both sides have utilized social media to brag and get “street credit,” the detective told Inside Lake. Videos and photos were discovered on social media showing the car suspected in the Feb. 7 shooting near the shooting location on the same date. In those videos, a white Dodge Dart, the car suspected in the shooting, can be seen in the photos and videos, according to the affidavit. The photos and videos were recorded just six minutes before the shots were fired.

Eustis Police investigate a shooting at Sunset Island Park on Jan. 22. A 17-year-old boy was shot in what police believe was a random attack. Police are investigating multiple shootings that are due to a gang rivalry. PHOTO: Inside Lake

EPD, LCSO, MDPD and LCSO stepped up patrols in response to this shooting and the following day, Feb. 8, a white Dodge Dart was spotted speeding less than a half of a mile from the shooting scene on Hazzard Avenue around 10:45 p.m. And EPD officer attempted to pull the Dodge over and it fled several blocks. The car suddenly pulled over and at least one passenger bailed out of the car and fled on foot.

The driver, Joseph Antwon Baker, 21, of Tavares was taken into custody and searched. Police found a small bag of marijuana, his wallet, $20, a scale and a Vienna sausage, according to the arrest affidavit. Baker told EPD there were two people in his vehicle who fled from the scene. Baker said once EPD got behind the car, the front seat passenger, Artavious “Kutt” Williams, 16, put a gun to his head and said, “If you stop, I’m going to kill you.”

Editor’s note: Although Brycen Williams, who was arrested for the Light Up Eustis shooting, and Artavious Williams are both said to be gang members and have the same last name, they are not related according to EPD.

Baker was arrested for feeling and eluding, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. He is being held in the Lake County Jail on $7,000 bond.

Baker told police Robert “Swag” Sharp Jr. texted him on Feb. 7 to play basketball. He picked Sharp up, and they played at Carver Pak in Eustis and then went home. He denied any shots were fired from his car; however, Baker did identify Sharp from a photo on social media and confirmed Sharp was standing in front of Baker’s Dodge Dart in the photo.

On Feb. 9, in a second interview, Baker admitted he was driving and Williams aka “Kutt” was in the passenger seat while Sharp was in the back. Baker said Williams stood outside the window and fired shots at the apartment of Hazzard Avenue. Two other individuals were also in the backseat, according to Baker, but Inside Lake is not naming them because they have not been charged with a crime at this time.

Williams and Sharp have both been arrested for the Feb. 7 shooting, according to EPD. TPD picked up Sharp and it is unclear when Williams was picked up. They are facing charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, discharging a firearm from a vehicle, improper exhibition of a firearm and possession of a firearm by a minor.

Police also believe the shooting at Sunset Island Park on Jan. 22 involves some “4wayy” members, but the shooting was random, Capri told Inside Lake. Thomas Saliba, 17, was shot in the face during a 3-year-old’s birthday party, but was not targeted, Capri said. It is believed that the individuals involved in that shooting just randomly decided to shoot up a park, he said. One person has been arrested in that case.

LCSO, EPD, MDPD and TPD are continuing to work together, and more arrests are forthcoming, Capri said.

Former American Idol Contestant Busted With LSD By Mount Dora Police

MOUNT DORA, Florida—Former American Idol contestant David Oliver Willis was arrested late Friday after Mount Dora Police found seven squares of suspected LSD in a backpack with his personal belongings.

According to the arrest affidavit, MDPD observed a Chevrolet SUV with a non-functioning headlight on Eudora Road near Brown Avenue shortly after 11 p.m. An officer conducted a traffic stop and detected the odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle and when asked about it, Willis reportedly said he had been smoking at a friend’s house prior to the stop.

David Oliver Willis PHOTO: Lake County Sheriff’s Office

Police searched the vehicle and found a grinder in the front passenger seat with green leafy residue and a black backpack. Inside the backpack, police found Willis’ personal belongings, including bank cards and a baggie that contained seven small squares of paper.

MDPD field-tested one of the squares and it tested positive for LSD, the affidavit states. Willis, 31, admitted the backpack belonged to him, but denied the LSD was his, according to the affidavit.

Willis was transported to the Lake County Jail, where he was released on $2,000 bond. 

Mount Dora Man Tased, Busted With Gun And Drugs

MOUNT DORA, Florida—A burned out taillight turned into a trip to jail for a van’s passenger early Friday morning.

Mount Dora Police pulled over a van on East Spring Harbor Boulevard just before 3 a.m. when an officer noticed the left taillight out, according to an arrest affidavit. The officer noticed the smell of marijuana coming from the van as the officer spoke to the driver and told the driver they could smell it. The occupants were asked if there was any marijuana in the van and the driver said he smoked earlier, but to his knowledge there was not any in the van. Inside Lake is not naming the driver because he was not charged with a crime.

The passenger, identified as Darius Trenard Young, 34, was asked to exit the van and after questioning police why he had to exit, he finally did, according to the affidavit.

PHOTO: Lake County Sheriff’s Office

Young ran as one officer began to search the van and a second officer gave chase and announced Young would be tased. Young continued to run and an officer tased him. “It was evident Darius was not feeling the effects of the TaserX26P. I then conducted a follow through with the Taser to complete the cycle. Darius immediately felt the effects of the Taser X26P and began to comply,” the arresting officer wrote in the affidavit.

Young was placed in handcuffs and MDPD located several sandwich bags of marijuana, a sandwich bag containing MDMA, a glass jar of marijuana, seven bags of “Stoner Patch” marijuana edibles, empty baggies and a Sig P225 handgun. The marijuana and edibles weighed 324.8 grams and the MDMA weighed 41 grams, according to the affidavit.

Young was arrested for armed trafficking of MDMA, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, possession of marijuana more than 20 grams, possession of drug paraphernalia, resisting an officer without violence

Young, a convicted felon since 2008, was transported to the Lake County Jail, where he was released on $44,000 bond. 

Mount Dora Man Arrested After Eustis Police Find Bag Of Ecstasy Next To Baby In Unsecured Car Seat

EUSTIS, Florida—A Mount Dora man was arrested after Eustis Police found a bag containing “several” ecstasy pills during a traffic stop Tuesday night.

EPD stopped a vehicle around 9 p.m. Tuesday for an inoperable tag light, near North Exeter Street and McDonald Avenue, according to an arrest affidavit.  The driver, who Inside Lake is not naming because she wasn’t charged with a crime, “appeared very nervous” and had three passengers with her, including a 1-year-old baby, according to the arrest affidavit.

One of the passengers, Troy Nix, 29 who was sitting in the back seat next to the unsecured car seat and baby, was drinking from a cup and spontaneously said, “This is Hennessy,” the affidavit states. Hennessy is a popular brand of cognac. An EPD officer told Nix to pour the liquor out and instead he took a sip, the affidavit states.

The driver consented to a search of the vehicle and EPD found a baggie with several multi-colored pills that field-tested positive for ecstasy. The baggie of pills was found in the baby’s car seat on the left of the baby’s body underneath a blanket being used to keep the baby warm, according to the affidavit.

Nix was arrested for child neglect, possession of ecstasy and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was transported to the Lake County Jail, where he is being held on $5,000 bond. 

Duo Follows Intended Robbery Victim Into MDPD Parking Lot

MOUNT DORA, Florida—Two men who followed their intended robbery victim right into the parking lot of Mount Dora Police Department are behind bars on no bond.

Shortly before 1:30 a.m. Wednesday a man in a truck pulled into the parking lot of MDPD, followed by another vehicle. The man in the truck told police the vehicle had been following him since he was in Orange County, flashing its high beams at him and making him feel uncomfortable. As the officer spoke to the victim, a man exited the second vehicle and made statements, “about a small Hispanic officer that shot him and then began stating something about the Marine Corps and other incoherent items,” the arresting officer noted in the arrest affidavit. The victim then left the police department.

Police attempted to identify the driver of the second vehicle, and he gave them a false name and then gave them a second name, Lionel Malik Pierre, that matched description information in the Drivers and Vehicle Information Database (DAVID.) They later received information from Apopka Police Department, the man’s name is Leopold Pierre, 50, of Vero Beach and he has been known to use the alias, Lionel Pierre.

Police then attempted to identify the second male in the vehicle, who gave them an incorrect last name. They were able to identify him as Darion Waldo, 33. Waldo then told police the vehicle they were in was stolen and they were following the truck to commit an armed robbery on the driver, the affidavit states. He continued to tell police the pair “robbed” a female of the vehicle they were in and committed two other robberies in Orange County.

Waldo, of Sanford, told MDPD he did not want to take part in the robberies, but he did not do anything to stop them, or turn Pierre in. Police searched the vehicle and found a knife and ski mask. Waldo said the mask was his, but then said it was not his, according to the affidavit.

PHOTO: Mount Dora Police Department

Volusia County Sheriff’s Office deputies contacted the owner of the vehicle at their home in Volusia County and the owner said his vehicle had been stolen earlier in the day, but he had not reported it yet. He responded to MDPD and completed an intent to prosecute; the driver of the truck also came back to MDPD and completed an intent to prosecute, the affidavit states.

MDPD sent out a Be On (the) Lookout (BOLO) to surrounding law enforcement agencies and Apopka Police Department reported they had an incident earlier in the day and they identified who MDPD believed to be Lionel Pierre, as Leopold Pierre.

After running a check on Leopold Pierre, police found he has a criminal history in Florida and South Carolina, but Lionel has no criminal history. Leopold had also used Lionel’s name as an alias in the past, according to the affidavit.

Pierre and Waldo were both arrested for false name to law enforcement, attempted robbery with a deadly weapon, possession of burglary tools, aggravated stalking, grand theft of a motor vehicle and petit theft. Pierre was booked under Leopold Pierre in the Lake County Jail; both Pierre and Waldo are being held on no bond.

Wanted Mount Dora Man Charged With Battering K-9, Drug Offenses

MOUNT DORA, Florida—A man wanted for conspiracy to introduce contraband into a detention facility compounded his problems Tuesday when he allegedly tampered with evidence and grabbed Lake County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Noble and refused to let him go.

LCSO deputies responded to Quality Inn, 16630 U.S. Highway 441, Mount Dora to attempt to locate Michael Carl Nieves on a warrant Tuesday afternoon. After confirming his room number with management, deputies knocked on his door and Nieves answered, asking several times if he was going to jail, according to an arrest affidavit.

Deputies informed Nieves, 51, he was going to be arrested and he retreated into the room; deputies told Nieves several times if he did not come out of the room, they would send in a K-9. A female exited the room and told deputies Nieves was in the bathroom and several deputies entered the room.

PHOTO: Lake County Sheriff’s Office

Nieves yelled from the closed bathroom, refusing to comply and deputies believed he was flushing narcotics down the toilet. LCSO forced entry into the bathroom and K-9 Noble was released to aid in apprehending Nieves.

Nieves fought with deputies, grabbed Noble and refused to let him go, the affidavit states.  He eventually let the pup go and was taken into custody. Deputies searched the room and found a large amount of marijuana in the toilet bowl and baggies of prepackaged substances, believed to be crack cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine. Nieves is facing a slew of charges, including conspiracy to introduce contraband into a detention facility, possession of cocaine, possession of methamphetamine with intent to sell, resisting arrest, tampering with evidence, possession of marijuana over 20 grams with intent to distribute, battery on a police K-9  and two counts of violation of probation.

Nieves was transported to AdventHealth Waterman for the injuries he received from K-9 Noble, and after treatment he was booked into the Lake County Jail, where he is being held on no bond. 

8-Month-Old Baby’s Leg Broken, Dad Arrested

MOUNT DORA, Florida—A Mount Dora man was arrested Monday for aggravated child abuse after he was accused of breaking his 8-month-old daughter’s leg, bruising several ribs and failing to get her immediate medical attention.

According to a heavily redacted arrest affidavit, the infant was picked up from a home in Eustis around 5 p.m. Wednesday by her father, Dominic Tyler Ralston, 22, after spending the night of Oct. 26 and most of the day Wednesday with two individuals whose names were redacted. The baby had no visible injuries, except for a bruised forehead that was explained by the baby’s parents, according to the affidavit. The baby shied away from Ralston when he attempted to pick her up, the affidavit states. Ralston’s relationship to the baby is redacted from the affidavit, but social media

posts indicate he is the child’s father.

Later the same evening, the baby’s mother called her own mother and said the baby was not eating and would “flip out” in apparent pain if she was touched, and was favoring her right leg, the affidavit states. An unnamed person took the baby to AdventHealth Waterman and Ralston and the baby’s mother followed.

The hospital found the baby had a broken leg and an unnamed person told police the baby had fresh bruises on her body and face. The person told police the baby’s parents had a history of domestic violence and just a few weeks before Ralston threw a 12-pack at the baby’s mother, striking her in the face. She locked him out of the hotel room, and he kicked the door in. Ralston was arrested in Lake County in December 2019 for domestic battery, the charges were later dropped.

On Thursday, the baby was transferred to Advent Pediatric Hospital in Orlando and when Ralston was informed of the transfer, he at first refused to go. After an unnamed person yelled at him about not going, he did go to his daughter. While there, the Department of Children and Families (DCF) asked Ralston to sign a safety plan giving temporary custody of the baby to someone else. He refused and is alleged to have said it was, “all a bunch of (expletive.)”

Later the same day, Mount Dora Police asked Ralston to come to the department to be interviewed and he asked if he was going to be arrested, the affidavit states. A detective told Ralston he wanted to know how the baby’s leg and ribs were broken and bruised and Ralston went to Mount Dora Police Department around 4:15 p.m. for the interview.

Ralston told police Oct. 26 was the fourth day the infant had issues with her right leg and there was concern because she was accident prone. He went on to explain safety measures he had taken including pool noodles and crib liners and said he was concerned DCF was going to permanently take the baby. MDPD explained witnesses said the baby was very sensitive to her leg being touched after being with Ralston and Ralston suggested she broke her leg by getting caught in the crib liner. He then stated he did not know how she broke her leg and said her bruised ribs must have been from a fall, according to the affidavit. The MDPD detective asked Ralston to take a Controlled Voice Stress Analysis examination and he refused.

Ralston was arrested Monday and charged with aggravated child abuse. He was released from the Lake County Jail on $10,000 bond Tuesday morning. 

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