Rumor Leads to Restaurant Employee Getting Busted with Gun in his Pocket at Work

EUSTIS, Florida—A rumor that an employee was carrying a weapon at work turned out to be true after Eustis Police found a gun in his right pocket Saturday afternoon, according to an arrest affidavit.

A manager at Sonny’s 15800 U.S. Highway 441, Eustis told EPD he heard rumors Zachary Steven Rose, 21, of Paisley, was carrying weapon after drug deal went bad, according to the arrest affidavit. The manager said Rose was going to be written up for a prior incident but felt unsafe and wanted officers to check him for a weapon.

EPD went to the kitchen at the restaurant and asked Rose if he had a weapon and he confirmed he did and officers located the loaded .380 Ruger in his right pocket, and he was secured in handcuffs. Rose does not have a concealed weapons permit. Officers also found a THC vape pen. Rose told officers he had the gun for protection, and he has never sold drugs at work, the affidavit states. Rose said he bought the gun from “someone” and it was not reported stolen.

Rose was arrested for carrying a concealed firearm and possession of THC oil. He was transported to the Lake County Jail where he is being held on no bond due to a recommit from a previous charge.

In March, Rose was arrested by EPD for possession of methamphetamine with intent to sell and possession of drug paraphernalia after the vehicle he was riding in was stopped for not having a license plate. K9 Mya found 13.1 grams of meth and Rose admitted it was his, according to that arrest affidavit. That case is still pending.

Social Media Sleuth Identifies Suspected Thief

MOUNT DORA, Florida—A man captured on video stealing nearing $500 worth of items from a home improvement store couldn’t escape being identified by a social media sleuth on a Mount Dora Police Department Facebook post earlier this month.

On July 21, MDPD posted an “attempt to identify” on its Facebook page of two men accused of stealing tools from Lowe’s, 18795 U.S. Highway 441, Mount Dora on June 3. According to the post, a man with a long red beard was captured on video selecting a drill valued at $219 and tool set valued at $239, placing it into his cart and exiting the store without paying on June 3. He was accompanied by another man, but it is unclear if that man has been identified.

PHOTO: Lake County Sheriff’s Office

According to a probable cause affidavit, the man was identified as Terry Wayne Cowart, 44, of Paisley, by a person who commented on the department’s Facebook post. MDPD officers provided a photo lineup to the store’s manager, and she identified Cowart as the culprit.

A warrant for retail theft was issued for Cowart’s arrest Monday and he was picked up in Paisley early Friday morning. Cowart was transported to the Lake County Jail, where his is being held on $2,000 bond.

Lake County Firefighter Fighting for his Life After 2 Masses Found on his Brain

PAISLEY, Florida—A Lake County Fire Rescue firefighter is fighting for his life after two masses were found on his brain after being rushed to the hospital earlier this month.

Blake Kocielko, 28, of Deltona, was rushed to Central Florida Regional Medical Center in Sanford after experiencing blurred vision and sudden dizziness while at home on June 19, according to a GoFundMe started by his brother Colton. Colton also works for Lake County Fire Rescue and is currently working on his firefighter certification, he told Inside Lake.

Blake went through testing and two masses were found and one was determined to be a tumor, Colton said. Medical personnel were unable to reach the other mass.

 “The tumors were not excised completely because more testing needs to be done first – but the neurosurgeon feels confident that they are cancerous. This is undoubtedly a devastating blow for Blake, his friends and family, and all of us here at Lake County Fire Rescue,” Lake County Firefighters stated in a Facebook post.

Blake was released from Central Florida Regional Medical Center in Sanford Thursday and is awaiting a second craniotomy at Shands Hospital in Gainesville to remove as much of one of the tumors as possible, Blake wrote in a GoFundMe update Monday.

“I am currently awaiting my second craniotomy procedure at Shands to attempt to remove as much of the tumor attached to my left lobe that they can and from there I will begin a treatment plan and begin the long road to recovery and hopefully return to healthy. I just wanted to say thank you from the bottom of my heart to all of you, no words of encouragement or support has gone unnoticed, and I truly couldn’t thank everyone enough,” Blake stated in the update.

Blake is expected to undergo the surgery in the next two weeks, Colton said. “Hopefully, that will relieve some of the symptoms.”

Blake worked for a private ambulance company before joining Lake EMS in 2018, “to work alongside me,” Colton, 30, said of his little brother. He joined Lake County Fire Rescue in 2021 and is currently stationed in Paisley.

Blake and his longtime girlfriend, Jordan, have a rescued Yorkie named Survivor and their pug, Milo, passed away unexpectedly while Blake was in the hospital.

If you would like to donate to Blake to aid in his expenses and recovery, please visit GoFundMe-Blake’s Fight

Paisley Man Killed After SUV Strikes Tree Friday

DeLAND, Florida—A Paisley man was killed in a single-vehicle crash Friday afternoon, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

The 52-year-old man was westbound shortly after noon Friday on County Road 42, near State Road 44 in the DeLand area of unincorporated Lake County, in a 2007 Mazda CX-7 when he left the roadway for an unknown reason a struck a tree, FHP Lt. Kim Montes said in a press release.

The man was pronounced dead on the scene, and he was wearing his seatbelt, Montes said; the crash remains under investigation.

Feud Over Security Light Ends In Apparent Murder/Suicide

PAISLEY, Florida—The Lake County Sheriff’s Office is investigating an apparent murder-suicide involving neighbors that occurred on Fisherman’s Road in Paisley Monday afternoon.

LCSO responded to a home on Fisherman’s Road at 12:50 p.m. and found Timothy Patch, 59, “We discovered him dead from an apparent gunshot wound, LCSO Lt. Fred Jones told Inside Lake.

LCSO then discovered Eric Hilderbrand, 61, dead behind a home from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, Jones said. The pair were neighbors and had an ongoing feud about a security light that had started in October; Hilderbrand was apparently upset that the light was shining in a bedroom in the home he shared with his sister. There was a confrontation between Patch and Hilderbrand Monday afternoon and Patch’s murder was captured on video, Jones said.

LCSO did not respond to any prior calls about the feud, but code enforcement had received at least one call, Jones said. The outcome of that call was unclear at press time. 

Single Dad And 4 Boys Lose Everything To House Fire

PAISLEY, Florida—A single dad and his four boys are trying to find a new place to live after the home they lived in burned to the ground just eight days before Thanksgiving.

Jon Wilson, 36, and three of his sons were sleeping around 12:30 a.m. Wednesday when the mobile home they have lived in for nine years caught fire, he told Inside Lake. The electrical fire is believed to have started from a faulty outlet in Wilson’s room.

Wilson and his twin 14-year-old boys and 15-year-old-son escaped the blaze on Palm Street, along with their dog and two cats, but the home and everything in it was a total loss. Wilson’s 6-year-old son was with his mom at the time of the fire. It only took about 15 minutes for the home to burn down, Wilson said.

“The whole house was up in flames. Not even anything we found in the rubble was salvageable,” Wilson said Friday.

Wilson was renting the home and does not have renter’s insurance, he said. The Red Cross offered immediate assistance and Wilson is staying with his girlfriend for the time being. The boys are staying with family members and having a little bit of fun while Wilson deals with the aftermath of the fire.

“It’s just a big stressful situation for everybody,” Wilson said.

Many people have donated clothes and furniture to Wilson and his boys, so much in fact he has rented a storage unit, and he has started a GoFundMe to help replace necessities and to raise money for a new place to live. He is looking for a home with at least three bedrooms and said right now that is the most important thing. An account for donations has also been set up at United Southern Bank; if you’d like to donate you may stop by any branch or send your donation by mail to PO Drawer 29, Umatilla, FL 32784. 

Paisley Woman Jailed After Argument Over Beer

PAISLEY, Florida—A Paisley woman has been released from jail after she was accused of pointing a rifle at her live-in boyfriend in front of Lake County Sheriff’s Office deputies late Friday night just 30 minutes after deputies told the pair to separate for the night.

LCSO responded to Loudermilk Drive around 11:45 p.m. Friday on a reported domestic disturbance. When they arrived, they found Amanda Christine Foster, 33, and her boyfriend standing near a driveway and shed. As a deputy approached, the victim reportedly said, “What are you going to do, shoot me?” The deputy then saw Foster standing in the threshold of the shed with a small caliber rifle, according to the arrest affidavit.

Foster emerged from the shed and shouldered the rifle and pointed it directly at the victim. The deputy identified himself and ordered Foster to drop the rifle at gunpoint. Foster refused to comply and turned towards the deputy with the rifle still shouldered; he ordered her again to drop the gun and after some hesitation, she complied and dropped it, the affidavit states.

Foster retreated into the shed and deputies took her into custody after a struggle and she was placed into a patrol car while LCSO spoke to the victim. He told deputies the pair had been in a relationship for about a year and they had been drinking together throughout the night. An argument began over the victim drinking Foster’s beer and she became angry and started throwing things at him, including beer cans. She also smacked him in the back of the head with a 2×4, resulting in a knot, he told deputies; he refused medical care, according to the affidavit. LCSO responded to same home 30 minutes prior to the rifle incident and the couple agreed to separate for the night, the arresting deputy noted.

Foster was arrested for aggravated domestic battery and transported to the Lake County Jail where she was released on $5,000 bond. 

Paisley Man Dead After Couple Fights, Struggles Over Gun

PAISLEY, Florida—The Lake County Sheriff’s Office is investigating after a struggle over a gun resulted in a man’s death.

LCSO responded 27631 Veva Avenue around 9 p.m. Friday and found 31-year-old Chris Smith dead from a single gunshot wound. Smith’s wife, Marina McDonald told deputies the couple had a physical altercation and Smith pointed a gun at her, LCSO Lt. John Herrell said in a press release.

McDonald and Smith struggled over the gun and Smith was apparently shot; McDonald had injuries consistent with an altercation.

This is an ongoing investigation, Herrell said.  

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