Post by Graveyardbride on Jan 21, 2018 5:57:39 GMT -5
Weird Florida 2017
Some Florida headlines become instant classics:
“Man accidentally shoots self in road rage incident,”
“Possum breaks into liquor store, gets skunky drunk,” and
“Polk City woman arrested for DUI on a horse.”
And who could forget “Lawyer’s pants erupt in flames during Miami arson trial”?
Florida crime, as always, offered a bonanza of bonkers behavior. There was the Pinellas Park man who Googled “How to rob a bank” and then robbed a bank. (Apparently he forgot to Google “How to get away with robbing a bank.”) A woman in a bikini contest in Stuart was busted for bashing a competitor in the head with her high-heeled shoe (neither won “Miss Congeniality”). A Merritt Island man trashed an ATM because, he said, it gave him too much cash. When a SWAT team raided a home in The Villages, a mega-retirement-community, police found more than just the meth lab they’d expected to find; they also discovered heroin and a chop shop for stolen golf carts.
Some of the best crime stories involved a seasonal or even celestial angle. In December, a Lawtey woman who was charged with stealing statues, figurines and even concrete benches from a cemetery was dubbed “The Gravesite Grinch.” In November, a woman was charged with shoplifting while dressed as a turkey. In August, a fleeing car thief was caught when he stopped at a hardware store in Kissimmee to buy a welder’s mask so he could watch the solar eclipse. In June, a Jacksonville man caught tossing pipe bombs in a dentist’s parking lot told police he was just warming up for the Fourth of July.
Love and its many splendors produced plenty of Florida headlines. A man who was stealing a trailer in Cooper City stopped long enough to have sex with his accomplice. In Sarasota, a tennis match had to be halted because of the noise from a couple’s amorous exploits. In Fort Walton Beach, a woman told police she attacked her husband because he threw her sex toys at her.
Wronged women became something of a theme this year. A woman donned a wig to sneak into a Palm Coast wedding ceremony, where she spotted her boyfriend kissing someone else, poured a drink on him, punched another woman, fled to the bathroom, was then dragged out by angry bridesmaids and got into a brawl with them. Meanwhile, a Palm Beach Gardens mom threw eggs at her daughter’s boyfriend, then got into her Mercedes and chased him through the yard because he had confessed to her daughter that he’d been cheating – with the mom!
Food often played a role. A Lakeland man was arrested for dragging a table into the middle of a crosswalk and sitting down to eat pancakes. When a state trooper stopped a drunk driver in Port St. Lucie and asked for her driver’s license, she tried to give him a half-eaten burrito. In Marathon, two men broke into a closed IHOP, cooked burgers and fries, then tossed a safe off the roof and fled – without the safe. By far the strangest food-related crime involved a man from Bay County who was armed with a machete when he stole some potato chips. He was then pursued by four deputies and crashed into their cars. Those must have been the best-tasting chips in the world.
Speaking of machetes, weird weaponry made the news. A Micanopy school was placed on lockdown when a man threatened parents in the car line with a gun and a dead possum. A St. Lucie County woman struck her sister with a Christmas tree ornament. A Vero Beach woman attacked a police officer with an electric toothbrush.
Not all weapons functioned properly. A Lehigh Acres man was asleep in a chair when his dog barked, startling him and causing him to jump up and knock a .25-caliber pistol off an end table that went off and shot him in the thigh as he hit the floor. A Plantation police officer teaching children gun-safety, warned them his Taser was not a toy, then accidentally Tasered a 10-year-old. A Jacksonville man inadvertently sat down on a gun in the driver’s seat of his car, causing the pistol to shoot him in the penis.
Florida’s highways continued to be unsafe at any speed. In November, a man who caused a collision at a Clermont intersection told police he did it because he was sick of seeing all the other unsafe drivers roaring through the intersection. Three Tallahassee college students caught doing 113-mph with pot in their car told police they were speeding because they were late for class. Police in Fort Pierce said a man jumped into a burning car, drove it around the block, stopped, jumped out, then fired several shots at it. (It wasn’t his car.)
Animals were, as always, a major topic in Florida stories. A Clearwater Beach man risked eviction from his condo because of his devotion to his emotional support squirrel. Iguanas repeatedly popped up in toilets around the state. An Englewood family heard a noise in their attic and soon learned the source was a 6-foot boa constrictor – and that the snake had apparently been living there for more than two years. The Okaloosa County School District had to evacuate its headquarters because it was overrun with squirrels, raccoons and blowflies. A Lee County woman, 71, was attacked by a 10-foot alligator while working in her garden. She fought off the gator by stabbing it in the nose with her garden shears.
And some things defied explanation. A Deerfield Beach family heard a loud thud, ran outside and discovered 15 pounds of Italian sausage had just hit their roof. No one ever figured out why it hit the roof or from where it came. A 45-foot sailboat washed ashore in Melbourne Beach after Hurricane Irma, hundreds of miles from its port in Key West, its only occupants a pair of mannequins. A sign language interpreter attempting to convey information regarding approaching Hurricane Irma instead warned the deaf of “monsters,” “pizzas” and at one point, signed, “Help you at that time too use bear big.”
By far the greatest Florida news story of the year and one of the greatest of all time, was contained in a small police-beat brief in December in this very newspaper under the headline: “Florida man arrested after yelling about how terrible Florida is.”
Other Weird Florida news of 2017:
January. A Tallahassee man came home to find his wife in bed with a local pastor, who was forced to flee the home naked and later had to beg the forgiveness of his congregation. The driver of a Fort Myers armored truck refused to pull over, even though money was flying out of his vehicle.
February. A Charlotte County alligator displayed its appetite for golf balls on video.
March. Stephen Gutierrez, attorney for the defense, was fiddling in his pocket as he argued that his client’s car spontaneously combusted instead of being set on fire, when smoke began billowing from his right pocket. Gutierrez blamed a faulty battery in an e-cigarette for the fire.
April. Some Florida Gulf Coast University students brought a dead alligator into their dorm room for a photo shoot. A Tampa teacher was arrested for drunkenly allowing a 14-year-old boy to drive her to the Waffle House.
May. In what may be the mugshot of the year, Lawrence Sullivan, a man with “Joker” tattoos on his face, was arrested for displaying a gun in Miami traffic. A naked woman in Big Pine Key got into a fight with police while they were arresting her for squatting in a home.
June. A Highlands County woman was arrested for allowing a snake to bite her toddler, after which she stupidly posted the video on social media. A Port St. Lucie man was arrested for intentionally deflating a neighbor’s bounce house while children were inside.
July. A Keys man was arrested when deputies discovered 11 grams of cocaine hidden in a Cookie Monster doll. A Hialeah man was caught on video as he opened fire on two utility trucks he said were blocking his driveway.
August. A St. Petersburg man was arrested after claiming his gun accidentally fired while he was taking a selfie at a strip club. A 73-year-old Daytona Beach man thought it a good idea to hand out business cards to teens advertising his services as a “sugar daddy.” A Fort Myers woman was arrested after she was observed snorting cocaine off her iPhone screen while waiting in a middle school pickup line.
September. Two Jacksonville men were charged with stealing a power line pole while hurricane victims were without power.
October. A driver in Lehigh Acres was confident his Corolla could jump 20 feet across a canal – he was wrong.
November. A driver on Alligator Alley being chased by police called 911 and asked to speak to Donald Trump, claiming “We made a deal.” A traffic jam in West Palm Beach caused by President Trump’s motorcade turned into an impromptu twerking session on the interstate by several female drivers.
December. A sign language interpreter in Tampa was arrested after it was discovered she was signing gibberish during a press conference about a serial killer.
Sources: Craig Pittman, The Tampa Bay Times, December 28, 2017; and WPTV, December 27, 2017.