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Florida man arrested for threatening to kill Trump supporters and 7 Republican politicians: Police

A Florida man has been arrested for allegedly threatening to kill supporters of President Donald Trump and politicians who are allies of the president.

Police arrested Richard Szala, from Clearwater, a suburb of Tampa. Szala, a registered Democrat, reportedly threatened to kill seven prominent Republican politicians who are Trump allies, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.), Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), Sen. Rick Scott (Fla.), and Rep. Matt Gaetz.

Szala, 61, also allegedly threatened to kill Trump supporters, including his neighbor.

“We were going to plant signs and what have you, but I thought, you know what, in this environment, maybe not a good idea … and now, oh my God,” Szala’s neighbor John Clayton, a Trump supporter, told WFLA-TV. “No clue. Cause you have no idea who your neighbors are.”

Szala reportedly made online threats against the GOP politicians and Trump supporters on YouTube, according to Clearwater police.

Someone tipped off the Florida Fusion Center about the online threats early Wednesday morning, according to officials. The Florida Fusion Center says it “protects citizens, visitors, resources, and critical infrastructure of Florida by enhancing information sharing, intelligence, capabilities, and preparedness operations for all local, state, and federal agencies in accordance with Florida’s Domestic Security Strategy.”

Law enforcement did a search of the IP address, which led to Szala’s address in Clearwater.

“We got a credible tip from an information intelligence gather source about him posting threatening comments on YouTube,” Clearwater Lt. Michael Walek told WTVT. “His comments were directed to the Republican party, specific people in the Republican party. … He was threatening to shoot them.”

Szala allegedly claimed he was making empty threats and did not intend to carry out any politically inspired violence against Trump supporters.

“He admitted to making the statements out of anger and just shouldn’t have said it, didn’t mean it, but he still said it,” Walek added. “Anytime somebody threatens to shoot somebody and kill somebody because he’s upset with them, it’s inappropriate and not going to be tolerated.

“We take all written threats seriously. It doesn’t matter if it’s a political rant, a school, a neighbor, a friend…anytime you threaten somebody, we can establish probable cause you’re going to jail,” Walek said. “We don’t know if you’re joking. We don’t know what your actions are going to be.”

On Wednesday, Clearwater police went to Szala’s home after learning of the threats. Authorities seized his gun, phone, and computer. Szala was arrested and charged with making a false report concerning the use of a firearm in a violent manner. The arrest happened hours after the 2020 presidential election results started to roll in.

The investigation involved Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the FBI, and the Secret Service.

Szala was charged with harassment by phone in Illinois in 1989, according to public records.

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Florida men dubbed ‘dumbest criminals’ of the week after reportedly leaving string of identifying clues — including ID

Two men in central Florida this week earned the title “dumbest criminals” after leaving behind evidence at the scene of their alleged crimes.

The Sheriff’s Office in Marion County arrested 41-year-old Robert Hobby and 23-year-old Marcus Reeves for reportedly stealing, WCJB-TV reported. Police say the two men engaged in a string of burglaries and thefts.

The duo allegedly went on a burglary spree in Ocala and Marion counties, breaking into several convenience stores and stealing lottery tickets and cigarettes.

Police did not have any trouble apprehending the suspected thieves. Apparently, the two suspects left behind several incriminating items in the stores they robbed, including a shoe, their tools, and Reeves’ wallet, which contained his ID.

Police said Hobby and Reeves also were caught on camera smoking cigarettes in the stores while they were committing their crimes.

In a Facebook post, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office introduced the two men as “this week’s dumbest criminals.”

“Meet 41-year-old Robert Hobby and 23-year-old Marcus Reeves, they have been arrested for a total of 14 charges combined, all in reference to Grand Theft and Burglaries,” the sheriff’s office said.

“Now being a thief already makes you dumb, but that isn’t why they are this week’s ‘Dumbest Criminals.’ You see these two went on a burglary spree inside the city limits of Ocala and out here in the county,” the office continued. “They were breaking into convenience stores, stealing cigarettes and lottery tickets, BUT while doing this, they were smoking cigarettes inside the stores while the cameras were watching. But that still isn’t the best part, because we didn’t need the cameras to identify them…you see when they left the stores, they left their shoe, their tools and Marcus left his wallet with his Driver’s License.”

The suspects were arrested after police went to Reeves’ residence and confronted him with the evidence. Reeves reportedly confessed, and the two thieves now face 14 grand theft and burglary charges.

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Florida man arrested for what he allegedly did to a child when he refused to remove his mask

Police arrested a man in Treasure Island, Florida, after he allegedly grabbed a child when he refused to take his mask off.

The bizarre incident occurred at Ricky T’s Bar & Grille on Sunday, according to police.

According the arrest affidavit, 47-year-old Jason Copenhaver approached the child and asked him if he was wearing a mask. When the child said he was, the man told him to take it off and shake his hand.

Copenhaver then allegedly grabbed the child’s hand when he refused and said, “You now have coronavirus.”

“Victim stated that (Copenhaver) was in such close proximity that spit particles from (Copenhaver’s) mouth landed in his face,” wrote an officer.

Restaurant workers said that the man wasn’t wearing any shoes and tried to hit an employee twice. They also said that he appeared to be drunk.

The same employee took control of Copenhaver and held him to the ground until police arrived, according to WTVT-TV.

Authorities did not release the age of the child.

Copenhaver was arrested and charged with simple battery and disorderly conduct. He was released on $650 bail.

Police say he told them that he didn’t know if he had coronavirus and had never been tested for the virus.

Americans fed up with masks

Disputes over masks have made headlines across the country and are likely to increase as local governments respond to a spike in coronavirus cases.

In Michigan a local commissioner blamed the mask mandate on “them n****** down in Detroit,” which occasioned lawmakers from both sides of the aisle to call for his resignation.

In Washington state, a man was caught on video viciously beating a partially disabled elderly veteran, allegedly because he had made a comment to the attacker’s girlfriend about wearing mask.

Another incident in Jacksonville, Florida, involved a woman purposely coughing on another woman who was recording her heated interaction with employees at a Pier 1 store. The victim was wearing mask because she was receiving treatment for a brain tumor, and the aggressor was later charged with assault.

A poll in July found that 75% of Americans supported orders for people to wear masks in public around other people. Another 13% said they opposed the orders.

Here’s more about mask wearing in America:

Americans still weary of face masks as COVID-19 pandemic cases surges

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Florida man opens fire in hotel lobby because a mother and son weren’t social distancing, police say

A Florida man fired a gun inside a Miami Beach hotel after he became angry that a mother and son weren’t social distancing, police said.

The shooting happened Monday night at the Crystal Beach Suites Hotel on Collins Avenue. Douglas Marks reportedly entered the lobby of the beachfront hotel and noticed a mother and son sitting on a couch.

“You all aren’t social distancing,” Marks told the mother and son, according to the police report. Marks then told them, “You all need to leave.”

The mother, Veronica Pena, and her son ignored the man.

“Let me take care of them, I have two people not following directions,” Marks said, according to Pena.

Marks then pulled out a firearm and fired several shots. An anonymous male witness said he shielded the mother and son during the shooting, and claimed there were “like six” shots fired.

Police say the shooter “continued to scream commands to social distance while holding the firearm and subsequently fired several shots.”

“The guy came and started shooting,” a witness said. “The son and the mom were, like, crying, and they were scared.”

Elio Rodriguez was in a Crystal Beach Suites Hotel room with his wife and child when the shooting occurred and said he tried to protect his family when the gunshots rang out.

“‘Bam! Bam!’ Real loud, loud. I just grabbed everybody and put them on the floor,” Rodriguez told WSVN. “I grabbed my daughter and everybody and put them on the floor.”

No one was injured. There was a bullet hole only inches away from the hotel’s front desk.

Marks was arrested by Miami Beach Police. He surrendered to police without incident.

Marks allegedly later admitted to the shooting. The police report stated that Marks asked the hotel front desk to call 911 before firing “four warning shots.” He said that he did so because he was being followed by someone, the Miami Herald reported.

On Tuesday morning, Marks was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, use of a firearm to commit a felony, and discharging a firearm in public. He was being held at Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center on $11,000 bond, according to jail records.

Man arrested for Miami Beach shooting that was allegedly over social distancing

Since the coronavirus pandemic hit the United States, there have been numerous violent and alarming incidents involving COVID-19 precautions.

Earlier this month, a California Lyft rider reportedly attacked her driver and spat at him after the Lyft driver requested that she wear a face mask.

Two men allegedly attacked a security guard at a Target store in May after they refused to wear a face mask.

A viral video this week showed a woman enraged that small children were not wearing face masks. She told the children: “I hope you all die!”

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Florida man crashes van into church, sets building on fire with parishioners inside, police say

A Florida man allegedly crashed his van into a church on Saturday and then set it on fire with parishioners inside the building. Steven Shields, 24, was arrested by Marion County Sheriff’s Office deputies for an apparent attack on the Queen of Peace Catholic Sanctuary in Ocala.

Shields allegedly plowed the vehicle through the front doors of the church. He then allegedly got out of the car and poured gasoline in the foyer area of the house of worship and lit it on fire. During the church attack, parishioners were in the building preparing for Saturday mass.

Police said Shields then got back into his white van and fled the scene. Police chased Shields down Highway 441, and the vehicle was disabled when MCSO Deputy Josue Gonzales performed a Precision Immobilization Technique to stop the car.

Shields was taken into custody and charged with attempted second-degree murder, three felony counts of evidencing prejudice, arson to a structure, burglary of an occupied structure, and felony fleeing or attempting to elude. Shields is being held in the Marion County Jail with no bond.

According to the police report, Shields told deputies he targeted the church because of a “mission.” WJXT-TV reported that Shields told investigators that he had been diagnosed with Schizophrenia, but had not been taking his medication.

Thankfully, all of the parishioners were able to escape the church without injuries. Marion County Fire Rescue extinguished the flames relatively quickly, but the damage to the church is described as “extensive.”

“Our freedom of worship granted in the Constitution is a freedom that we all hold dear,” MCSO Sheriff Billy Woods said. “My deputies and I are sworn to protect that right and will always ensure our citizens can worship in peace. I’m proud of my deputies for capturing this man so quickly and we appreciate the assistance from all of the state and federal agencies that worked alongside us during this investigation.”

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Florida man allegedly kills wife and son; sister says he was depressed about the COVID-19 pandemic

A Florida man reportedly shot and killed his wife and his son early Sunday morning, and his sister said depression caused by the COVID-19 pandemic may have played a role in the tragedy, WESH-TV reported.

What’s the story? Smith Rivera, 59, allegedly shot his 57-year-old wife Jodie and his 21-year-old son Matthew sometime after midnight Sunday morning.

Police arrived at the scene at 1:15 a.m. to find the wife and son with gunshot wounds, and they were pronounced dead at the scene in the Orlando area. Rivera allegedly shot at another one of his sons, who was able to escape the house.

As police were investigating the scene, Smith Rivera pulled up in his car and reportedly confessed to shooting his wife, and was taken into custody. He has been charged with two counts of first degree murder with a firearm and one count of attempted murder with a firearm.

Depressed because of COVID-19? Rivera’s sister, Mayra Berriel, said alcohol and depression may have led him to murder his family.

“With this pandemic he was depressed and he was drinking,” Berriel told WESH. “Please pray for my family. … My whole family is in shambles.”

Mental health has become an increasingly alarming issue during the coronavirus pandemic, as months of stay-at-home orders nationwide left people isolated from loved ones and often unable to access mental health care resources. Studies have also shown a link between increased unemployment rates and increases in suicide and substance abuse.

From the Washington Post:

Mental-health experts are especially worried about the ongoing economic devastation. Research has established a strong link between economic upheaval and suicide and substance use. A study of the Great Recession that began in late 2007 found that for every percentage point increase in the unemployment rate, there was about a 1.6 percent increase in the suicide rate.

Using such estimations, a Texas nonprofit — Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute — created models that suggest if unemployment amid the coronavirus pandemic ends up rising 5 percentage points to a level similar to the Great Recession, an additional 4,000 people could die of suicide and an additional 4,800 from drug overdoses.

But if unemployment rises by 20 percentage points — to levels recorded during the 1930s Great Depression — suicides could increase by 18,000 and overdose deaths by more than 22,000, according to Meadows.

(H/T: New York Post)

Arrests Bizarre news Crime Florida Man Intelwars Shoplifting Steak

Florida man tries to evade police by stripping off his clothes. Steaks fall out instead and he gets a taser to the genitals.

A Florida man was arrested after trying to steal ribeye steaks in the buff, according to a USA Today report.

What are the details?

Authorities responded to a phone call Friday night notifying police that Stefan Short, a 28-year-old man from DeLand, Florida, was attempting to shoplift from a local grocery store in DeLand.

Witnesses to the alleged shoplifting say that ribeye steaks were falling out of Short’s pants as he defrocked himself in an attempt to escape. Those steaks — four packs — were worth about $41.

When police arrived on the scene, they witnessed Short stripping naked and attempting to get away from the store on foot.

When it was clear that Short refused to stop, authorities deployed a taser and forced him to stop. He was later taken to a nearby hospital for treatment as it was determined that one of the taser’s prongs struck him in the genitals.

Authorities charged Short with resisting an officer without violence, resisting a store employee while committing a theft, and first-degree petty theft.” At the time of this writing, Short is being held without bail at the Volusia County Branch Jail.

The outlet reported that Short is a “regular shoplifter” at the store. A store manager reportedly attempted to stop Short from stuffing the steaks in his pants but was unsuccessful in preventing him from trying to leave.