DeKalb County GA March 27 2012 Two security guards have been charged with impersonating a police officer following a bizarre chain of events Saturday night that resulted in the death of an unarmed 18-year-old man.
Candy Grimes, the mother of the dead teen, insisted Monday that she witnessed her son being run over by one of the guards after he had been shot, an assertion police dispute.
DeKalb County Public Safety Director William Miller said Ervin Jefferson, 18, died from a single gunshot wound to the chest and, that while he had crawled under a car after the shooting, the vehicle never moved from the scene.
“I saw him shoot my son,” Grimes told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution by phone Monday. She said police have ignored her claims before she cut the interview short to tend to her distraught daughter.
Jefferson, who was apparently unarmed, had allegedly approached the guard, Curtis Scott, in a “threatening manner,” Miller said.
No charges have been brought against the 25-year-old Scott in connection with Jefferson’s shooting, though police are still investigating, Miller said.
Grimes said she wants to see Scott charged with her son’s death.
Scott and Gary Jackson, 26, told police they had spotted a suspicious vehicle, with four female passengers, parked just outside the Village at Wesley Chapel Apartments, where Scott and Jackson are employed as security.
A female resident of the Village apartments said the women had been harassing her, Miller said. He said he did not know whether the guards were aware of that complaint when they approached the car.
Scott and Jackson allegedly told the women they were police officers and illegally detained them at the scene, police say.
From there, events grew chaotic.
According to police, Scott and Jackson came under fire from a gunman inside a residence at 2622 Pleasantwood Drive. The suspected shooter, Bobby Hubbard Jr., 35, was also arrested and charged with reckless conduct and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, authorities said.
As the gunfight unfolded, Jefferson drove up to confront the women who were allegedly harassing his sister. He apparently thought the guards were affiliated with the women, Miller said.
Scott contacted 911 at 10:29 p.m. and said he was being fired upon and that he had shot Jefferson, police say. Jackson, meanwhile, had returned fire with the gunman at 2622 Pleasantwood. No injuries were reported.
Miller said he did not know if Scott and Jackson were licensed to carry firearms. “If their lives are being threatened, they have a right to respond appropriately,” he said.
According to Miller, Jefferson “possibly threatened to kill” the guard.
Columbus GA March 27 2012 Ron D. Blair of Phenix City has been arrested and charged with the Sunday morning shooting death of Keon D. Coleman of Phenix City.
The crime occurred shortly after 1 a.m. at the downtown Columbus intersection of Broadway and 12th Street.
Columbus Police Lt. John McMichael said no clear motive has been determined for the crime. “There was some kind of confrontation,” he said.
He did not say what led police to Blair.
Blair, 32, is in the Muscogee County Jail, charged with murder, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He will make an appearance in Columbus Recorder’s Court Tuesday at 9 a.m.
A Columbus police officer working security heard shots and responded.
Coleman, 19, was found lying on the Broadway sidewalk.
He was pronounced dead at 11:50 a.m. Sunday at The Medical Center, where he was taken with a gunshot wound to his head.
According to the police report, there was no evidence of drugs being involved or of gang activity at the scene.
Uptown Columbus Inc. President/CEO Richard Bishop said seven Columbus police officers were on duty downtown at the time of the shooting, which was about two hours before the bars closed.
There was one officer in the 1200 block and two more in the 1100 block at the time Coleman was shot.
“If there is an intent to commit a crime, there is not much you can do about that,” Bishop said. “We will continue to have security down there. But we had one officer in that block and two more a half block away headed in that direction.”
Uptown Town Columbus Inc. and the Business Improvement District, both directed by Bishop, employ additional downtown security on the weekend and during large events.
Coleman has been in trouble in the past with the Columbus law.
In June, 2011, Coleman was among four young men arrested at Peachtree Mall and charged with disorderly conduct.
RANDOLPH, Mass. March 27 2012 – Randolph Police rushed to help a man they believed to be trapped inside a burning house, but it turned out the man was intent on hurting himself and others Saturday night.
“I didn’t even see him, I just saw the hand with the bucket and that was it,” said Officer Mark L’Italien of the Randolph Police Department.
L’Italien said after he stepped inside the smoke-filled house he knew he had been doused in gasoline.
“Almost instantly I did because you could smell it,” said L’Italien.
Frantic 911 calls show something went wrong even before the Randolph Duplex went up in flames.
“Someone is trying to use fire in the house – he has gas and he turned it on and there’s fire in the house,” the caller tells dispatchers. “Something is wrong with him. He’s losing his mind.”
Investigators say Rafael Theophile, 54, intentionally started fires in five spots throughout his duplex. He’s also accused of confronting officers on his back porch with two knives before he was arrested.
Theophile’s brother-in-law, Jaude Louis, said he was hospitalized recently for mental illness, but didn’t get proper attention.
“He was working but he was stressed out,” Louis said.
L’Italien says he was okay and went back to work after the incident.
“It didn’t even dawn on me. I guess instinct just takes over, you don’t even think about that stuff until afterwards,” said L’Italien.
No one was hurt in the fire.
Theophile was taken into custody and was questioned by detectives Sunday evening. He is facing an arson charge in addition to 13 counts of attempted murder charges.
He will be arraigned in Quincy District Court on Monday.
Wyomissing PAMarch 27 2012 Two Reading women were arrested after they were caught shoplifting from a Wyomissing department store and one of them threatened a security guard with a knife, police said Sunday.
The incident happened Saturday night about 10 in the Sears store in the Berkshire Mall.
Ana Mendez-Torres, 24, of the 400 block of West Greenwich Street and Damaris Ruiz Ramos, 37, of the 1100 block of Chestnut Street were charged with retail theft, receiving stolen property and conspiracy. Mendez-Torres also was charged with robbery and simple assault.
They were arraigned before District Judge Horace Z. Davis and committed to Berks County Prison in lieu of $10,000 bail.
Store security guards saw Mendez-Torres, Ramos and another woman walking out of the store without paying for perfume, clothing and jewelry valued at $644, police said. They called out for the women to stop as they walked through the parking lot but the women refused.
When one of the guards, John Dorgan, followed Mendez-Torres, she pulled out a knife, threatened him and started walking toward him making a stabbing motion, investigators said.
Police arrived and arrested Mendez-Torres and Ruiz Ramos. The third woman got away.
Peoria AZ March 27 2012 A Peoria police officer died last week after a near year-long battle with cancer.
Officer Brian Kehrein, 31, leaves behind his wife and their 7-month-old son, as well as his father and sister, according to Peoria police.
Kehrein entered law enforcement in Wisconsin in 1999 and joined the Peoria department in 2007. It was around this time last year that he found out he had a golf ball-sized tumor in his brain. He died March 20.
Kehrein’s visitation will be 5 to 8 p.m. Monday at Heritage Funeral Chapel, 6830 W. Thunderbird Road in Peoria. A Mass of Christian Burial will take place 10 a.m. on Tuesday at Prince of Peace Catholic Church, 14818 W. Deer Valley Drive in Sun City West.
Noxious odor from passenger’s bag at Boston’s Logan International Airport sends TSA officers to hospital www.privateofficer.com
BOSTON MA March 27 2012— A noxious odor coming from a passenger’s bag at Boston’s Logan International Airport sent four Transportation Security Administration officials to the hospital.
Airport spokesman Phil Orlandella says the odor was noticed at about 8 a.m. Monday in a Terminal A bag room and prompted a hazardous materials response.
The odor caused the evacuation of 15 TSA employees from the room after someone opened the bag.
Some employees complained of eye or throat problems or headaches.
Four were taken to Massachusetts General Hospital as a precaution.
Authorities say no passengers were affected.
He says state police are checking the bag and questioning the owner. There was no word on what caused the odor or if terrorism was suspected.
Terminal A handles flights from carriers Alaska Airlines, Delta Airlines and United Airlines.
Syracuse, NY March 27 2012- Syracuse lawyer Joseph Cote recently won a nearly $3.4 million verdict for an Army National Guard soldier shot in the face during a robbery at a Rochester convenience store where he was working as a security guard.
Brian Brown, 39, suffered a shotgun blast to the face fired by one of three bandits during an attempted robbery at the Wilson Farms store on Jay Street in Rochester the evening of Dec. 12, 2003.
Cote said he argued to a state Supreme Court jury in Rochester that policies by Wilson Farms and then corporate owners Tops Markets and Ahold – including failing to limit the amount of cash in stores and making sure employees made periodic cash drop-offs to the bank – contributed to a series of robberies at its stores in the Rochester area.
In the 10 years before Brown was shot, there were 126 robberies, six shootings and one death at Wilson Farms stores in the Rochester area, Cote said. Three people had been shot in two prior incidents at the store where Brown was shot, the lawyer noted.
The jury deliberated about three hours March 9 before awarding Brown $3.38 million in damages, Cote said. The jury held Wilson Farms and its corporate owners 50 percent responsible and the unknown assailant 50 percent responsible, he said.
No one was ever arrested in the case because the surveillance video from the store was of such poor quality, Cote said. He also said the rash of holdups targeting Wilson Farms stores appeared to end a month after Brown was shot.
POINT PLEASANT WV March 27 2012 — A former Mason County Sheriff’s Department Deputy and Resource Officer at Hannan High School is suing Mason County Schools Superintendent Suzanne Dickens, alleging she slandered him to a Huntington television station.
In court papers filed earlier this month, Robert Glenn of Mason County states Dickens made statements to the Huntington television station “alleging he had engaged in inappropriate behavior, including sexual harassment toward students at the high school, even though no formal complaint had been filed against the defendant.”
The complaint goes on to allege Dickens did “knowingly, recklessly, willfully, wantonly and maliciously slander and/or libel and/or defame Glenn by making, publishing and declaring to (the Huntington news station), alleging that Glenn has sexually harassed children at Hannan High, with the knowledge that said information was false.”
The uproar began about a year ago, when Glenn was accused of making an inappropriate remark about a female student to a male student at Hannan High School – a remark Glenn has denied. Former Sheriff David L. Anthony fired Glenn over the alleged incident in March of last year with Glenn’s termination upheld soon after at a hearing before the Mason County Deputy Sheriff’s Civil Service Commission.
Glenn then filed a wrongful termination suit and the case took another turn in December of last year when Judge Thomas C. Evans, III, ruled Glenn’s dismissal from his post as Hannan High School’s resource officer was done without providing him with his statutory right to notice of a pre-disciplinary hearing which is guaranteed by West Virginia state law. This meant the decision to terminate Glenn was reversed.
At that time, Evans was also clear that no opinion in his ruling related to the “substantive merit of the disciplinary action” taken by Anthony.
The case was settled in December of last year with Glenn being reinstated as deputy, paid $24,243.56 in back pay from the sheriff’s department and then Glenn tendered his resignation. Glenn’s suit against Dickens says he voluntarily resigned his post at the sheriff’s department. Back in December, Glenn’s attorney fees were also paid and totalled around $8,000. Also, as part of the settlement, the sheriff’s department reportedly removed all documentation regarding the allegations of the incident at HHS from Glenn’s personnel file.
In his lawsuit against Dickens, Glenn is asking for compensatory damages as well as an award of punitive damages in an amount to be determined by a jury.
Dickens spoke with the Point Pleasant Register about the lawsuit on Monday, saying she had just become aware of the filing that day and would make a comment after she had an opportunity to review the material contained in the suit.
Source: Point Pleasant (WV) Register
Oak Lawn IL March 27 2012 An Oak Lawn man accused of cutting a security cord and taking two cameras and shoving a store security officer in an effort to flee without being apprehended.
Nick Benson, 26, of the 10200 block of South Tripp Avenue, was charged with battery and retail theft on March 15.
When Oak Lawn police arrived at Kmart at 4101 W. 95th St. around 3:56 p.m., the store manager and security officer already had Benson on the ground in handcuffs, police said.
Earlier Benson was spotted entering the store and checking the ceiling for hidden cameras on the store’s security cameras, police said. The security officer told police that Benson entered the camera aisle and using a pair of scissors, allegedly cut two cameras off their lock and peg hook.
Police said the security officer watched Benson as he walked toward the front of the store. After he passed the cash registers, the security officer confronted Benson.
The security officer identified himself to Benson inside the store vestibule and asked for the merchandise inside Benson’s coat. After turning the cameras over, Benson shoved the security officer in the chest and attempted to flee the store, the report said.
Police said the security officer was able to maintain his grip on Benson, and with the help of the store manager, they were able to detain Benson until police arrived.
Benson allegedly told police he took the cameras because he needed the money. He said he was just trying to get out of the store and didn’t want to be arrested again.
He was taken to the Oak Lawn police station where he was charged with battery and retail theft. His next court date is April 2.
HOUSTON TX March 27 2012—A 41-year-old man who fatally shot his 27-year-old common law-wife in a jealous rage at a Walgreen’s parking lot early Sunday has been charged with murder, according to Houston police.
Police said Santoyo Rodriguez killed Emelia Oregon-Cruz because he learned she was cheating on him.
Rodriguez found out that Oregon-Cruz had a new boyfriend and was going to meet up with him at the store in the 12600 block of South Gessner Saturday night.
He drove to the store and saw her car parked in the parking lot. He then parked his van and waited for her to return.
When Oregon-Cruz arrived around 1 a.m., Rodriguez confronted her and forced her into his van at gunpoint.
He shot her several times, left her inside the van and took off in her car. Oregon-Cruz died at the scene.
Later that morning, Rodriguez turned himself into the Pearland Police Department, who then contacted the Houston Police Department.
Two men arrested following disturbance inside Jersey City Medical Center ER, police reports say www.privateofficer.com
Jersey City NJ March 27 2012 Two men were arrested yesterday morning when police tried to disperse a group of visitors who had become disorderly in the emergency room at the Jersey City Medical Center, according to police reports.
Police were called to the ER at 4 a.m. on reports of an aggressive and disorderly crowd that was “inciting a riot” in the waiting room, reports said.
The officers escorted the group outside and told them to leave the area of the parking lot, but some in the crowd refused to budge and instead started taunting the cops, challenging them to take off their police badges and have a “fair” fight, reports said.
One man, Jason Jarod Cheek, 24, of Harrison Avenue, raised his fists and lunged toward a police sergeant, according to police reports.
Cheek threatened and struggled with police officers and was eventually subdued when an officer struck him in the right leg and right arm with a night stick, reports said.
Cheek was charged with riot, failure to disperse, resisting arrest, and aggravated assault on a police officer, police reports said.
Carlton T. Brown, 23, of Steadman Street, threw his hat at an officer and was arrested after he was found to have open warrants, reports said.
Hospital officials said an on-duty police officer called for backup after a large group of family members became disorderly because they were refused permission to visit a patient who was being treated in the emergency room.
The official said family members were escorted out of the building in an orderly way.
WEST PALM BEACH Fla March 27 2012— A beloved former band director at H.L. Watkins Middle School who was accused in 2009 of sexually molesting four students today pleaded guilty to charges that will send him to prison for 13 years.
Arriving in court wearing a smartly-tailored gray suit and tie, Heath Miller, 39, abandoned plans to let a jury decide his fate and instead accepted a last-minute plea deal.
“He wanted to take responsibility for what he did but he also wanted to spare (the teenage girls) the horror of coming to trial,” his attorney Mark Wilensky said shortly after Miller was finger-printed and taken to jail by Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputies.
Facing seven charges that could have sent him to prison for as long as 75 years, Miller pleaded guilty to four charges in connection with the assaults that prosecutors said occurred in the band room of the Palm Beach Gardens middle school. He admitted to having sex with a 16- and a 14-year-old girl and inappropriately touching two others.
“I’m satisfied justice was served,” said retired school police Detective Vinny Mintus, who said the investigation was one of the most difficult of his career. Because students liked and respected Miller, they were reluctant to talk, he said.
Knowing how fragile they were, he said, he was glad they were spared the trauma of having to tell their stories publicly. “It would have been very difficult for them,” he said.
While always hard for young girls to testify about sexual assaults, in this case the trauma would have been compounded, said prosecutor Daliah Weiss. It was likely separate trials would have been held for each of the four molestation charges, she said. Because she wanted to use all four girls in each trial to persuade juries that Miller’s conduct wasn’t isolated, each would have had to testify four times.
“We got justice for these children and spared them the stress of having them testify against their attacker in court,” she said.
Miller will get credit for the 983 days – roughly 2 1/2 years – he spent in jail. Once released, he will be on probation for eight years and his life will be severely restricted. He will have to be home by 10 p.m. He will have to wear an electronic monitor. He can’t live within 1,000 feet of a school, park or any location where children gather.
He will have to give up his teaching certificate and can never teach again. Further, he will have to register as a sexual predator for the rest of his life.
His wife and parents cried as he stoically pleaded guilty to the charges. His attorney said that until his arrest Miller was a model citizen. Wilensky suggested that Miller’s world fell apart in February 2009 when he shot and killed an armed man who entered his house. All of the sex crimes took place after the shooting, he said. “It was traumatic for him,” he said.
Weiss declined comment on whether the shooting could have triggered the crimes. However, she acknowledged, Miller was a respected teacher.
“Yes, he was well-liked,” she said. “But he crossed a line.”
LAS VEGAS NV March 27 2012 – David Amesbury, the attorney who cut a deal with federal prosecutors in a far-reaching homeowner’s association scandal, was found dead Sunday at his brother’s home near Sacramento.
Amesbury’s family confirmed his death. The coroner in Nevada County, California confirmed Amesbury died from hanging.
Amesbury pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy to commit mail and bank fraud and agreed to assist federal investigators as they pursued others related to the HOA case.
Investigators say several people were involved in stacking HOA boards with favorable candidates, and then pushing construction defect lawsuits to attorney’s and contractors involved in the conspiracy. Ten people have pleaded guilty to their role in the conspiracy, and more deals and indictments are expected.
Last week, attorney Nancy Quon was found dead in the bathtub of her Green Valley condo. Police had accused Quon of trying to commit suicide in the past. The Clark County Coroner has not ruled on her cause of death but police say they do not suspect foul play.
Late last year, Amesbury was found beaten early one morning near his home in Henderson. Police have said they do not believe the beating was a result of Amesbury pleading guilty in the HOA case.
Amesbury and Quon are the third and fourth people connected to the HOA investigation to be found dead. Former Metro Lieutenant Chris Van Cleef killed himself shortly after he was named in the investigation, and late last year, former Vistana HOA board member Robbie Castro died from an apparent suicide in Northern Nevada.
BOILING SPRINGS, S.C March 27 2012 (AP) – South Carolina deputies say a shotgun-toting man kicked in a church door, then disarmed by congregants who saw the armed man coming.
Spartanburg County Sheriff’s deputies say it happened during Sunday services at the Southside Freewill Baptist Church in Boiling Springs.
Deputies charged 38-year-old Jesse Gates with burglary, disturbing a place of worship, and attempted kidnapping. Officers charged 34-year-old Amanda Gates with providing her brother with the shotgun and driving him to church.
Gloria Gates says her son Jesse has been attending the church for a short time. She says daughter didn’t know Jesse’s plans.
Lt. Tony Ivey says congregants spotted Gates approaching across a parking lot and locked the doors. Ivey says when Gates kicked in a side door, a half-dozen members hiding in the wings jumped him.
CENTRAL, SC March 27 2012 – A woman is accused of having sex with a 14-year-old after the boy’s mother found a bite mark on his neck, according to the Central Police Department.
Tameeca Lashae Watt, 30, faces two counts of criminal sexual conduct with a minor.
According to Chief Kerry Avery, the victim spent the night at Watt’s house on Johnson Road on March 16 because he was friends with her teenage son.
According to an incident report, Watt and the teen had sex, after which she bit him on the neck.
“Maybe (she was) just leaving him something to remember her by. I don’t know,” said Avery.
The police report said that the next morning, Watt performed a second sex act on the teen in her car on the side of the road after a trip to a convenience store.
The report said after the boy came home, his mother asked him about the mark on his neck. Watt told the mother that the boy met a girl at a park, and the girl gave him a “hickey,” according to the report.
Avery said the mother didn’t believe Watt’s story, and brought her son the police station. Avery said the boy told police about having sex with Watt.
“It’s sickening. It really is. I mean, you’re an adult and to take advantage of a juvenile that is that impressionable. You know, there’s no telling what kind of complications this child may have the rest of his life with something like this,” Avery said.
Watt was released from the Pickens County Detention Center under a $40,000 bond.
Oklahoma City OKMarch 27 2012
When Justin Echols was faced with near immobility after a catastrophic car crash, the Oklahoma City police sergeant found catharsis and a new career in a long-buried talent for jazz music.
Now, almost a decade after the car accident, Echols, 33, is embarking on an international jazz career the likes of which he once only dreamed.
“I had played when I was a kid, when I was five or six years old,” Echols said. “There was no real skill, there was no desire, there was nothing there. As a matter of fact I was pretty bad.”
Audiences in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, where Echols recently toured for 20 days, might find that hard to believe. Today, Echols croons the standards with a voice as smooth as melted chocolate and manipulates the ebonies and ivories as if he were born in a New Orleans jazz club.
Echols followed his recent tour with a 10-day stint in New York at Setai hotel, playing a special engagement.
During his stay in New York, Echols recorded a CD with Antonio Ciacca, director of programming at the “Jazz at the Lincoln Center.”
“It’s definitely a crossing over from the level I was at to being considered a professional jazz musician because I recorded with musicians who are world renowned,” he said.
The CD, called “Justin Time,” will be available for sale near the beginning of summer, Echols said. The songs on the album include mostly remakes of jazz standards along with two originals written by Echols and Ciacca.
After the success of his recent international and New York tours, Echols has a string of touring invitations to choose from: The Czech Republic tour manager wants him back, he’s booked again at Setai Hotel and has been offered an Italian tour that would result in a live performance CD.
Meanwhile, the Oklahoma City Police Department has been eager to help Echols maintain his position in the truancy department of the force — Police Capt. Dexter Nelson says Echols inspires his fellow police officers with his music and by managing two demanding careers.
Life before jazz
Before the car accident, Echols always figured his most important contribution to society would be through public service. By the time he was in his early twenties, Echols had dedicated his life to helping others as both an Oklahoma City police officer and as a soldier in the U.S. Army Reserve.
But in 2003, a head-on car crash sent Echols’ expectations of his life’s work spiraling
“I was preparing to train MPs (military police) who would deploy to Iraq,” Echols recalls of the morning that changed his life. He was driving very close to his home, near Classen and Northwest Expressway.
“There was heavy dew on the ground. I struck a really deep pothole.”
Echols lost control of the truck he was driving. The truck drifted into oncoming traffic and was slammed into by another vehicle.
The accident caused Echols serious injuries including a cervical fracture and a midline annular tear at the L5/S1 vertebrae. Echols’ spinal damage is a source of chronic pain that Echols deals with still.
“I spent six months going through rehab and physical therapy until finally I was discharged from the military and returned to the police department with very serious and chronic injuries,” Echols said.
Echols was also plagued with illnesses he said resulted from some of his injuries and medications: severe acid reflux, hiatal hernia (a condition in which part of the stomach protrudes through an area of damage to the diaphragm) and a fungus that led to six hair removal procedures on his scalp. Additionally, Echols developed keloids on his face and scalp. A keloid is excess scar tissue at the site of a healed injury.
He fought depression, weight gain and frustration at his physical limitations. He had to relearn nearly every physical activity he’d once taken for granted.
“This all happened in my twenties so I was destroyed with all of these health issues,” Echols said.
Music as therapy
While at home, recovering slowly from his wounds, Echols found himself listening to the music of jazz greats Ray Charles, Nat King Cole and Harry Connick, Jr.
In the strains of the music, Echols found escape. He fell in love with the genre.
Watching a live performance of Harry Connick Jr., Echols felt his feelings about jazz music change, he said.
“I would credit him with really switching me from somebody who wanted to listen to it and enjoy it to someone who actually wanted to perform,” Echols said.
His mother was staying with his family at the time, and she had brought her barely-used piano to the Echols home.
Laboriously, Echols taught himself some of the basics of piano, one note at a time, striving to sound like his jazz favorites. Soon single notes became simple chords that grew to include the diminished, augmented and other specialty chords that are the signature of jazz music.
“I had no idea how much work that would be and what I was actually getting myself into,” he said.
Echols says he has a ways to go before he considers himself a world class jazz pianist — in his haste to learn to play like his favorites, he skipped over much of the theory needed for a solid base in the instrument.
But he is thrilled with the direction his new career is headed. When in Oklahoma, Echols is the Artist in Residence at Hefner Grill at Lake Hefner. There, he usually plays Wednesday through Sunday evenings in the restaurant’s lounge.
“It used to be difficult to transition back then into putting on this uniform and getting into a patrol car and having to think about officer safety and having to think about protecting your weapon … all the things that we have to deal with in law enforcement,” Echols said.
The transition has become easier for him during the last couple years.
He tries to find a happy medium between his two lives.
“I’ve definitely embraced being the same dude in both worlds,” Echols said.
“I take a little bit of cop into jazz but I take a little bit of jazz into the cop.”
St. Paul MN March 27 2012 Mask-wearing robbers are targeting small drugstores throughout the Twin Cities, often threatening employees and forcing customers to the floor at gunpoint to feed their OxyContin habits or sell the narcotic to a demanding market.
The brazen crooks are going after these “ma and pa” operations instead of chain pharmacies because they have less security, fewer customers and are easier to scope out, police say.
“These are seasoned criminals using firearms and scaring the heck out of people,” said Lt. Mike Fossum, head of the Minneapolis Police Department’s robbery and assault unit. “One time somebody will resist, and they could be shot accidentally or on purpose.”
Most of the robberies have been in Minneapolis, but a drugstore near St. Louis Park’s Excelsior and Grand shopping district was robbed twice, most recently on March 15. Some drugstore owners are fighting back by adding security guards or dropping OxyContin, a prescription narcotic used to treat moderate to severe pain, altogether.
“I think what people are most concerned with is the aggressiveness of the robberies,” said Justin Pacult, who hired a full-time armed security guard after two robberies at his north Minneapolis pharmacy last year. “Most are going to comply with a gun in your face, so why do that?”
If the pace of robberies continues — eight since October and three so far in 2012 — the numbers will easily surpass the seven cases reported statewide in 2011, bucking a national trend that has seen a drop in pharmacy robberies. There were 663 in 2011, down from 758 in 2010, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Locally, police and pharmacy industry officials speculate that the increase may be due to a group of criminals pushing their luck until they finally get caught or due to the tough economy. Fossum said a 100-milligram OxyContin pill can sell for $100.
As abuse of OxyContin grew, the company that makes it reformulated it to make it less desirable to criminals. Users would crush the pill and either snort or inject it. In the last few years, OxyContin was redesigned to lose its potency if crushed, said Barbara Carreno, spokeswoman for the Drug Enforcement Administration in Washington.
Two robberies, no arrests
On March 15, two men wearing masks jumped over the counter at Best Aid Pharmacy in St. Louis Park, put a gun to an employee’s head and demanded to know where the pharmacy stored OxyContin.
The owner, who only wanted to be identified by his first name, Boris, for safety reasons, said he did nothing wrong as far as safety precautions. The pharmacy has a security camera and an alarm button to signal the security company. It took police less than five minutes to arrive, but the robbers were already gone. No arrests have been made in that robbery or a similar one on Dec. 21.
“It is a very safe area,” the owner said of the store’s location on well-traveled Excelsior Boulevard. “Everything is on our shoulders for safety. I wish police could supply cameras for our parking lot.”
Store owners are hesitant to put up bulletproof glass or other security barriers that would prevent patient accessibility to pharmacists, said Cody Wibert, executive director of the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy.
Wibert wasn’t surprised to hear about the rise in robberies involving the smaller, independent pharmacies, which are located mostly in urban areas. Pharmacies must report the loss of any significant amount of a controlled substance to the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Board of Pharmacy also is notified. He has seen a spurt of armed pharmacy robbery reports in the last six to nine months.
Last year, Minneapolis had 11 armed robberies of pharmacies, down 50 percent from 2010. Fossum said the city’s five most recent cases happened on the city’s North Side, on E. Franklin Avenue and downtown. They may be connected to the robbery in St. Louis Park, he said. Police are also investigating a similar robbery at Lloyd’s Pharmacy in St. Paul in February.
Moving to avoid trouble
VitaLife Pharmacy in north Minneapolis was robbed twice last year at its previous location on the corner of 42nd and Fremont Avenues N. Pacult, the store owner and pharmacist, said the building had no windows because the previous owner blocked them off, probably to prevent nighttime break-ins.
On June 2, about 10 customers were in the pharmacy picking up snacks and prescriptions during the opening rush, when two men with guns stormed in and told them to get on the floor. Pacult complied with the robbers’ demands and said he tried to stay “as calm as you can be with a gun to your head.” The men took OxyContin and what little money was in the register, he said.
The men had covered their faces, so the dozen cameras in the store were of little use. The pharmacy stopped carrying OxyContin. After a second heist in October, Pacult hired a security guard to be on duty from open to close.
The robberies were “the straw that broke the camel’s back” that prompted Pacult to move to a new building in December on the 4100 block of Thomas Avenue N., about a mile from the old location. It has big windows at the storefront, so he can easily see who’s coming into his store, and an armed guard who sits near the register in the back, where Pacult fills prescriptions, about 65 feet from the entrance.
“It is costly, but you cannot put a price on your life,” said Pacult. “It’s do business that way or I wouldn’t do it at all after what happened.”
Utah law would allow private investigators to serve civil processes, including vacate and eviction notices, bench warrants, summonses and subpoenas www.privatefficer.com
SALT LAKE CITY UT March 27 2012 – Lt. Lee Perry of the Utah Highway Patrol has reservations about Senate Bill 210 that gives new powers to private investigators.
The bill passed the Legislature but has yet to be signed by Gov. Gary Herbert. SB 210 would allow private agencies such as law firms and real estate companies to hire private investigators to serve all civil processes, including vacate and eviction notices, bench warrants, summonses and subpoenas. These are responsibilities that are now done by constables or law enforcement officers.
“They’re not trained in the same way as officers,” said Perry, who is also a state representative from Box Elder County and voted against the bill.
Many private investigators are former officers who know how to handle those situations, but under current state law, anyone who wants to be an investigator doesn’t have to take police training, “and that’s the hang-up,” Perry said.
Perry wonders what happens when people who don’t understand the recipient’s basic constitutional rights act inappropriately. If a resident or the investigators end up having to call law enforcement to assist in the situation, he questions what the bill really accomplishes.
The bill faced stiff opposition in the Senate, but passed 16-12 after sponsor Sen. Stephen Urquhart, R-St. George, added that the investigators cannot make arrests when serving a bench warrant.
Rep. Lowry Snow, R-St. George, sponsored the bill in the House and made sure to include a provision that investigators cannot use any force or breach the peace in performing these duties.
“It is true that (private investigators) have not been through the same training that a police officer will go through or a constable,” Snow said. “But they are regulated by the state Department of Professional Licensing and must adhere to the rules and regulations of that agency.”
In the House, Perry added a requirement that the investigators have to identify themselves and state that they’re acting as process servers, carry visible credentials and provide their contact information.
He also changed the bill so that if a sheriff’s office receives a credible complaint about an investigator, the department can ban him or her from performing those duties in that county ever again.
“I tried to give as much protection as I possibly could,” Perry said.
The final version passed the House on the last night of the session by a 38-36 vote.
One local private investigator shares Perry’s concerns about the possible law.
Jeff Nelson, who has been a private investigator in North Salt Lake for almost 35 years, said the bill does not make much sense to him. He’s been involved in at least 2,000 criminal cases and worries for the investigator’s safety while serving warrants. Sometimes “you run into someone who is a bad guy,” he said.
It’s better to send someone into these situations who is more qualified, he said.
If the governor signs SB 210, Perry plans to work with Rep. Curtis Oda, R-Clearfield, over the coming months on a new bill that would further clarify what the investigators can and cannot do.
Vancover Canada A suspicious device Sunday that resulted in the University of Victoria bus terminal loop being closed for more than five hours, traffic diverted, a building evacuated and the deployment of bomb specialists, turned out to be a D battery.
Wrapped in several layers of duct tape, “with a number of suspicious features to it,” the battery was located on a lawn outside the campus library just after 10 a.m., Saanich Sgt. Scott Treble said.
The device was dropped off by a passerby at the university’s campus security building. Police initially feared it might be some sort of improvised explosive device. And even after figuring out what it was, bomb experts could not immediately determine what the point of it was.
“It could be something completely innocent or intended to cause concern,” Treble said. “We would be interested to hear from the person [who disposed of the battery] if it was innocent or if there was the intention of a hoax.”
Sunday morning, police had evacuated the security building and locked down an area around it. The one-storey building is located beside the main bus terminal loop off Finnerty Road. Adjacent to a parking lot, it stands independently between the McKinnon Building and the Student Union Building.
Traffic was diverted from the bus loop. Bus passengers had to instead board and exit transit buses off Ring Road.
Police consulted with the RCMP explosive disposal unit in the Lower Mainland throughout the day.
Explosives specialists from the Saanich and Victoria police departments were called in to assist about 3 p.m. With the aid of both an X-ray instrument and a police dog, the device was deemed to be safe, Treble said.
By 4 p.m. Sunday, the area surrounding the security building and the bus terminal were reopened.
“There was never any risk to the public,” Treble said.
On Friday night, the RCMP bomb squad came from Vancouver and used a water cannon to destroy a suspicious device that had been located by three teens on a beach in the Uplands earlier in the day.
That one had a nine-volt battery hooked up to a cellphone and wires wrapped in packing tape. Oak Bay police cordoned off the area at Exeter Road and Beach Drive as a precaution.
Acting Sgt. Dave Davinder said the Oak Bay fake bomb will now undergo a forensic examination. Anyone found responsible for it could be charged with mischief.
Saanich police are aware, of course, that Sunday’s discovery falls closely on the heels of the device found Friday.
“It’s certainly something we’re aware of. But there is no reason at this early point to believe there is any connection … based on the appearance and the place it was found,” Treble said.
“There is nothing in terms of the type of device and the way it is put together to make any obvious association,” Treble said.
The police “highly encourage” anyone who finds a suspicious and potentially explosive device to leave it where it is and phone police, Treble said.
Campus security has a call-forwarding service and was able to continue to deliver its normal services Sunday, Treble said.
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. March 27 2012 (AP) A Virginia Beach man faces charges of robbing five banks in the city since January.
Leonard Harrison Teagle is being held without bond at the Virginia Beach Correctional Center.
Virginia Beach police said Monday that the 54-year-old Teagle was arrested Friday after a robbery at a Wells Fargo Bank branch.
Police say the bank reported the robbery as officers were following Teagle. They saw him leave the bank and followed him because he matched the description of the suspect in the earlier robberies.
Two earlier robberies occurred on the same day. Another Wells Fargo branch and a BB&T branch were robbed on Feb. 7.
The other robberies occurred at two other Wells Fargo branches on Jan. 30 and Feb. 23.