Monroe County Sheriff’s Office
Daily Crime and Information Report

Issued by the Media Relations Office,
Public Information Officer Deputy Becky Herrin

Click here to read press releases on other Sheriff's Office events and occurrences


April 30, 2009

Homestead man charged with Stock Island burglary

Stock Island - A Homestead man is in jail, charged with burglarizing a man's room on Laurel Avenue, Stock Island on March 30th.

The victim waved down Deputy John McGee the night of the 30th to report the crime. He told the deputy 25 year old Junior Bellegarde of Homestead had used a knife to force open the door of his room. He said Bellegarde took his Haitian passport, immigration papers, some cash and a handgun from the room.

The victim said he called the suspect and confronted him about the crime. He said the suspect threatened him if a warrant was issued for him.

Detective Juan Llera was assigned to investigate. He interviewed the victim's sister, who also lives in the residence. The sister said she witnessed Bellegarde in her brother's room that day, after her brother locked the room and went to work.

A warrant was issued for Bellegarde for burglary and theft. He was arrested today and booked into jail on those charges.

April 29, 2009

Marathon man steals, crashes boat

Grassy Key - A Marathon man is in jail charged with stealing a boat Tuesday evening and then crashing it on some rocks offshore of Marathon.

According to reports by Deputy Jon Huff, he responded to the Island Fish Company at just before 9 p.m. where the 22 foot Stingray boat had crashed on some rocks at the end of a point of land. On board the boat was 48 year old Mark Buehler.

The owner of the boat, who lives on Morton Street on Grassy Key, said he hired Buehler to detail the boat. He said last he saw it, the boat was up on lifts and Buehler was working on it.

Buehler told Deputy Huff his cell phone battery had died and he was driving the boat to Marathon to find a pay phone.

Buehler was arrested and charged with grand theft. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is investigating the boat accident. Buehler was booked into jail.

Business checks result in notices to appear in court

On April 28, 2009 the Sheriff's Special Investigations Division conducted checks of businesses that sell alcohol from Key Largo to Marathon. Seventeen businesses were checked including restaurants, convenience stores and bars. Six of the businesses served alcohol to minors during the investigations. The six people were given notices to appear before a Monroe County Judge.

The following are a list of the businesses and the suspects who sold the alcohol:

The violations by clerks who agree to sell alcohol to minors are punishable by up to 60 days in jail and include the possibility of a $500 fine, $235 in court cost, $75 in cost of prosecution, and $40 in cost of investigation.

Licensee Violations are:

The remaining businesses checked were in compliance with the law.

This operation was conducted in cooperation with the Monroe County Coalition for a Safe and Drug Free Community.

April 27, 2009

Detectives investigate similar business burglaries

Monroe County - Three businesses in different areas of the Keys overnight are being investigated by detectives. All three are similar in nature and could have been committed by the same suspect.

Detectives in three separate Sheriff's Office Sectors will be working together to determine if the three crimes are connected. At 1:30 a.m., a business alarm at Radio Shack on Big Pine Key brought deputies to the scene of a break in. Someone had used a large rock to smash in the glass door. Suspects stole electronic equipment. At 3:30 a.m., someone used a large rock to smash the glass door at Martini's Fine Wine and Spirits at the 81.6 mile marker in Islamorada; a cash register was taken during the break in. At 4 a.m., someone smashed the front door of Metro PCS / Talk More Wireless at the 99.3 mile marker in Key Largo. Cash was taken in that break in.

Anyone with information about these crimes should contact the Sheriff's Office immediately. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. If a tip leads to an arrest, the caller would be eligible for a cash reward. The Crime Stoppers Hot Line number is 1-800-346-TIPS or e-tips can be submitted anonymously at

April 26, 2009

Fire at apartment building in Marathon

Marathon - A fire on the roof of an apartment building under construction in Marathon caused the road to be closed for an hour Saturday night. The Monroe County Housing Authority Workforce Housing Construction site was not occupied and no one was injured.

Emergency phone lines in Sheriff's Office dispatch center began ringing at 8:20 p.m. with callers reporting the fire at the apartment complex behind the Wooden Spoon Restaurant. When deputies arrived, they saw flames on the roof of the building. Firefighters arrived quickly as well. The only fire hydrant available was across the highway, so deputies closed down north and southbound traffic as Firefighters began running hoses across the roadway.

Due to strong winds, residents to the west of the fire were evacuated just in case the flames spread. Within a half an hour, the fire was extinguished. The road opened a short time later to alternating traffic as the clean up of the scene began. No one was injured.

The Fire Marshal responded and determined the fire was caused by burning insulation on the roof. There was, reportedly, work being done on the roof earlier in the day and according to reports there were two tar kettles with hot tar inside still located on the roof. The Fire Marshall told reporting officers there was no initial sign of arson.

Accident causes further road closure

Marathon - Just as deputies were opening the road completely following the fire, there was a head on accident at 20th Street in Marathon at 10:15 p.m. Three vehicles were involved in the accident, which sent four people to Fishermen's Hospital with injuries. The road was closed at that location for another 45 minutes. The Florida Highway Patrol is investigating the accident.

April 25, 2009

Marathon man arrested after search warrant Marathon

Marathon - A Marathon man was arrested Friday after a search warrant at his residence turned up crack cocaine.

Detectives from the Sheriff's Special Investigations Division served the search warrant at an apartment at 240 Sombrero Road at 12:45 p.m. Friday. A search turned up 36 grams of crack cocaine packaged for sale; four grams of powdered cocaine and drug paraphernalia. A gun and ammunition were also in the house.

The resident, 29 year old Silvestre Rendon, was arrested. He was charged with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute and possession of drug paraphernalia and he was taken to jail.

April 23, 2009

Marathon man charged with gun threats

Marathon - A Marathon man was arrested Wednesday night for threatening another man with a gun.

The 22 year old victim told Deputy Jon Barry-Huff he was at employee housing at Hawk's Cay when the suspect, 27 year old Kalange Vassell, pulled a gun out of his waistband and pointed it at him. He said he knows Vassell, who reportedly works at Hawk's Cay. He said they have had problems in the past. He said there were three other men with Vassell when the incident took place.

Deputy Barry-Huff, backed up by other officers, found two of the witnesses. One of them denied that anything happened, but the other told a story similar to the victims, corroborating that Vassell had pointed a gun at the victim. The deputies then went to Vassell's residence on 3rd Avenue Gulf in Marathon. Vassell admitted to pointing the gun at the victim. He said the victim had made threats against his family and that he was just trying to "protect himself".

His wife cooperated with the deputies and showed them where Vassell's firearm was kept in the house. It was taken as evidence. Vassell was arrested and charged with aggravated assault with a firearm and he was booked into jail.

April 22, 2009

More drugs found with continued searching on Stock Island

Stock Island - The continued search of a Stock Island trailer turned up more marijuana this afternoon.

Detectives from the Sheriff's Special Investigations Division served a search warrant this morning at a trailer in Roy's Trailer Park on Stock Island. They found a large amount of Marijuana inside and arrested the resident, 60 year old Humberto Nunez. This afternoon, a further search turned up 2.2 pounds - a Kilo - of the drug hidden in a bucket underneath the trailer.

Nunez is in jail on charges of possession of Marijuana with intent to distribute and possession of Narcotics Paraphernalia.

Man arrested for marijuana after search warrant

Stock Island - A search warrant, served at a Stock Island trailer park, resulted in the arrest of a Stock Island man for possession of a large amount of Marijuana.

The warrant was obtained after an undercover operative made a number of marijuana purchases from the resident of the trailer, 60 year old Humberto Nunez. Detectives arrived at the trailer, located at lot #96 in Roy's Trailer Park, at 8:30 a.m. Nunez was home at the time the warrant was served.

A search of the trailer turned up 191 grams of marijuana packaged in plastic bags in the produce drawer of the refrigerator; another 65 grams in plastic bags were located in a drawer in the kitchen. A mashed potato canister was found under the bathroom sink. It had a false bottom containing $2,000.00 in cash and some women's gold jewelry. Several digital scales were also found.

Nunez was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and with possession of drug paraphernalia. He was booked into jail.

Marathon man arrested with variety of illegal substances

Marathon - An anonymous tip led deputies to a Marathon apartment, where they arrested a man for possessing a variety of illegal substances Tuesday night.

The anonymous complainant called to say there was illegal activity related to drugs going on at an apartment on 2nd Avenue in Marathon. Deputy Bradford Colen went to the apartment and asked the tenant's consent to search. They agreed to the search, but he did not find anything illegal in the residence. There were three people inside - two who said they lived there and one, 21 year old Jonathan Sanchez, who said he stayed there sometimes.

The deputy left without making any arrests. The anonymous tipster called back, however, and reported drug activity still going on so the deputy decided to park his patrol car out of sight and do some visual surveillance of the area.

He saw a taxi pull up and Sanchez walk out of the apartment carrying a black bag. He got into the taxi with the bag between his feet on the floorboard. At that point, Deputy Bradford confronted him, asking him what was in the bag. Sanchez admitted he had "weed" in the bag - referring to the illegal substance marijuana.

A search of the bag turned up a total of 100 grams of marijuana in various packages; 12 grams of powdered cocaine in various packages; also in the bag was Vicodin, Oxycontin, Ecstasy, a digital scale and a cell phone. Sanchez had $738.00 in cash in his pocket which was seized for forfeiture.

Sanchez was charged with possession with intent to deliver multiple illegal substances. Prior to being booked into jail he was also warned about the illegality of bringing illegal substances into the Detention facility. He was searched at the jail and found to be in possession of more powdered cocaine. He was further charged with introduction of contraband into a Corrections facility.

April 21, 2009

Fire extinguished at trailer park

Islamorada – A fire at an Islamorada Trailer Park has been extinguished.

No injuries were reported in the blaze, which started at 11:30 a.m. today. The fire burned two trailers in the park, both of which were reported to be vacant with no one living inside.

By 12:10 p.m., Firefighters had the fire extinguished and clean up has now begun. The Fire Marshall’s office will be investigating the origins of the fire.

Florida City man arrested for dealing in stolen property

Key Largo - A woman whose purse was stolen helped detectives set up a sting operation to recover her stolen property. The man who had the property was arrested.

The victim, who is from Washington D.C., was visiting the Key Largo area April 20th. Her purse was stolen while she was at the Caribbean Club in the early morning hours of that day. Sgt. Mike DiGiovanni took the initial report. In the purse was a cell phone, cash, a digital camera and an IPod.

The victim called her phone after it was stolen and heard two female voices talking about selling her property to buy drugs. She called it again later in the day and a man answered. The victim told him the phone he was using was stolen from her and she wanted it back. The man, later identified as 40 year old Frank Watts of Florida City, said he bought it earlier, along with a camera and an IPod. He agreed to meet her and return the items to her for $200.00 and gas money. he asked her not to get law enforcement involved.

Detective Patricia Garcia was assigned to investigate. The victim called the Sheriff's Office right after speaking with Watts. A sting was set up and detectives rode along with the victim when she went to the Burger King in Key Largo to meet with Watts.

After Watts handed over the stolen items, he was placed under arrest and charged with dealing in stolen property. He told detectives he bought the stolen items from two women in Florida City for $50.00. Watts was booked into jail.

Three Key Largo family members arrested; investigation into activities continues

Key Largo - Detectives arrested three members of a Key Largo family who are accused of using a stolen credit card in an attempt to purchase thousands of dollars worth of goods from the Wal-Mart in Florida City in March.

The credit card was stolen, along with a large amount of property, during a burglary on Barracuda Boulevard in Key Largo on March 17th. That same day the card was used in a number of different places in Florida City and Homestead, including the Wal-Mart in Florida City. Detective Greg LaRochelle was assigned to investigate the case.

Surveillance tapes were obtained from Wal-Mart, showing the date and time when the card was used. The tapes show a group of people, including four adults and five children, attempting to use the stolen card to purchase over $3,000.00 worth of property from the store. The tape shows a man, identified as Lazaro Reyes, swipe the stolen card and put it in his pocket. When the clerk asks to see the card, he produces a different credit card, with his driver's license. The card was rejected during the transaction and one of the women in the video, identified as Zayda Rodriguez, called the bank the card was issued by to dispute the rejected transaction. The bank terminated the call when she was unable to answer security questions properly.

The clerk picked both Reyes and Rodriguez out of a photo line up, giving detectives details about the transaction and what took place. On Monday, detectives arrested Reyes, Rodriguez and 28 year old Rosa Ramos-Reyes who was with them in the store, charging all of them with Grand Theft and Identity Theft. More arrests are pending in the case.

Detectives say they have been investigating this family in connection with a number of crimes that have taken place over the past few months, including burglaries in the vicinity of Stillwright Point in Key Largo. In February, the father of Rodriguez and Ramos-Reyes, was arrested for burglary. 49 year old Jorge Ramos was seen breaking in to an apartment at the 91.4 mile marker of the highway by an alert neighbor. The witness later picked Ramos out of a photo line up and he was arrested for the crime.

Investigations into their activities are continuing. More arrests and more charges are pending.

April 20, 2009

Officers charged with drug trafficking

On Friday, April 17th, a Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Corrections Officer and a Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Officer were arrested by Federal authorities on charges of Possession with Intent to Distribute Narcotics, Possession of a Firearm in Commission of a Felony, and Conspiracy to Traffic in Narcotics. 32 year old Shawn Hernandez is currently in federal custody in Miami. Our agency has been asked by the U.S. Attorney’s Office to refrain from discussing the details of the case because it is currently an ongoing investigation. We have been asked to refer all questions to their office in Miami.

Shawn Hernandez began working for the Sheriff’s Office in June of 2000 as a Maintenance Assistant; He attended a Corrections Academy in early 2001 and became a Corrections Officer, working in that position until May of 2007; at that time, he resigned, but came back to work for the agency in July of 2008 and has worked in the Key West Detention Center on Stock Island since then.  It is expected that Hernandez will be terminated from his employment with the Sheriff’s Office.

“We have worked swiftly and surely to ensure these two people are off the streets and behind bars where they belong,” said Sheriff Bob Peryam. “These criminal acts are serious and completely unacceptable no matter who is committing them; it is even more shocking and appalling that it would be two law enforcement officers taking part in this type of crime. We will not tolerate any kind of criminal behavior from our officers.”

The investigation was a cooperative effort by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Monroe County Sheriff’s Office HIDTA Task Force, the Homestead Police Department, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations.

Two arrested on drug charges

Marathon - An alert bartender called the Sheriff's Office to report drug activity. Her call resulted in the arrest of two men for possessing marijuana and cocaine.

Deputy Ken Fricke was called to the Brass Monkey Lounge in Marathon at 4 p.m. Sunday. The bartender told him a man had been attempting to sell drugs in the bar. She said he'd just left and was outside at a nearby bus stop.

Deputy Fricke found the man, along with a friend of his, just outside waiting for the bus. Deputy Fricke asked them if he could talk to them and, when the bus arrived, he asked the bus to wait for a few minutes while he finished checking the two men out. The bus driver agreed. The deputy checked both men through computers and found no outstanding warrants. He told them they were free to go. The men asked the deputy if he wanted to check their pockets, so he did that, finding a lighter that looked like a gun in one man's pocket, but no illegal substances. He explained the dangers of carrying something that looks so much like a real gun, and again told them they were free to go.

One of the men, 23 year old Darnell Scott, of Homestead, walked over to the bus bench and picked up a white bag. Deputy Fricke asked him if he could search the bag and Scott agreed. Underneath a jacket belonging to Scott, the deputy found a plastic bag with marijuana and cocaine inside.

As the deputy went on to the bus to detain the other man, 28 year old Shawn Bailey of Florida City, the bus driver thanked him, saying "there are too many drugs on these buses." The patrons on the bus applauded as Bailey was led off the bus.

Both Bailey and Scott were arrested. They were charged with possession of cocaine, possession of marijuana and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. They were booked into jail.

April 18, 2009

Key Largo man arrested for domestic battery, cruelty to animals

Key Largo - A Key Largo man is in jail this morning, charged with grabbing the phone away from his girlfriend when she tried to call 911, and beating his dog until she bled.

Deputy Robert Dosh responded to Red Bird Road at 5:15 a.m. today after a woman called the Sheriff's Office for help. She told the deputy she came home at 5 a.m. and her boyfriend, 28 year old Sterling Bunch, refused to let her inside. She said when she tried to call 911 with her cell phone, he grabbed her hand to keep her from calling.

She said she pulled away from him and walked away, calling police. As she was on the phone, she said she heard loud yelping and screaming from Bunch's dog. She said it sounded like someone was beating the animal.

Deputy Dosh went to Bunch's residence and asked to see the dog. There was blood on the door, floor, bed and couch. The dog was found cowering and shaking in another room. She had swelling and blood on the area of her hips and scratch marks and blood on her belly.

Bunch was arrested and charged with battery and with animal cruelty. The dog was left in the care of the girlfriend. The animal abuse was reported to the Humane Society so they could check on the animal's health.

Two teens charged with fleeing police

Plantation Key - Two teenaged boys were arrested just before midnight Friday after they fled from deputies.

Deputy Barney Sajdak was on Plantation Key at 11:15 p.m. when he saw a white full sized pickup truck southbound on Jasmine Street. The truck's stereo was turned up so loud it was easily audible over 100 feet away from it. The windows were down and the deputy could see two young white males inside. The deputy told the driver, later identified as 17 year old Tyler Gautier, to stop. Instead, the boy looked right at the deputy, then accelerated fleeing from the scene.

The deputy pursued the truck in his patrol car, with lights and siren activated. The truck fled through residential neighborhoods finally stopping on Woods Avenue where the boys jumped out and ran. Deputy Sajdak ran after them for a short time, but then stopped and called for more officers to set up a perimeter in an attempt to catch the boys.

Sgt. Mike DiGiovanni caught 18 year old Matthew Berry on Azalea Street; Gautier was caught by Deputy Kenneth Brand on Woods Avenue.

A search of the truck turned up a small amount of marijuana. Both boys were arrested. Gautier was charged with fleeing and eluding police, resisting arrest and possession of marijuana; Berry was charged with resisting arrest. They were both booked at the Monroe County Detention Center.

April 15, 2009

Ten upper Keys teens charged with child pornography

Key Largo - Ten upper Keys teens – four adults and six juveniles under 18 – are being charged with participating in the filming of sexual acts involving an underage girl.

The pornographic video was filmed on March 22nd at a home on Transylvania Avenue. The young girl who participated in the sexual acts depicted in the video reportedly told a friend about it. The friend then reported it to Key Largo School Resource Officer Will Schlegelmilch. The case was referred to the Sheriff’s Crimes Against Women and Children’s Unit and Detective Linda Mixon was assigned to investigate.

Detective Mixon immediately went to the home where the video was allegedly made; she talked with the mother of the teen whose recorder was reportedly used to make the video tape. The mother agreed to cooperate and handed over her son’s video recorder, which still had the recording inside. From the tape, the Detective was able to identify ten people who participated in the incident. The detective then interviewed the 16 year old girl who participated in the sexual acts. Hailey Vinney told Detective Mixon the sexual activity she participated in with 19 year old Derek Williams was consensual.

All ten people who participated in the making of the video – including the two people who performed the sex acts for the camera – are being charged with making child pornography. Specific charges against them include:

All are currently in custody except Vinney, who is currently out of town and Curry, who is also not currently in Monroe County.  Both are aware of the charges and will be arrested upon their return to this jurisdiction.

Man arrested for burglarizing sisters home

Islamorada - An Islamorada man was arrested early today, charged with burglarizing his sister's residence at the 88 mile marker of the highway.

The victim told Deputy Daniel Mehler she woke up just before 2 a.m. and heard someone in her home, going through drawers just outside her bedroom door. She opened the door and found her brother, 23 year old Keith Kirchner. When she told him to drop everything and leave, he complied dropping a can of change in his hand and riding away on a bicycle.

Deputy Todd Wyatt was in the area and located Kirchner a short distance away. He was placed under arrest. Kirchner was charged with burglary, theft and with an outstanding warrant for violation of probation. He was booked into jail.

Key Largo man charged with June 2008 burglary

Tavernier - A Key Largo man was arrested Tuesday, charged with burglarizing a Tavernier home in June of 2008.

The two victims told Deputy John Perez they were at work, and returned home at 4 p.m. to find their door pried open. A canvas of the neighborhood revealed a neighbor was working in his yard and saw the break in. He told deputies he saw a man walk into the yard with a pry bar. He said he was a nephew of the residents and had forgotten his key. The neighbor watched as the man pried open the door and entered. He removed two containers of change from inside.

The victims told Detective Gustavo Helago they suspected their ex-roommate of the crime. They said 48 year old Juan Perez had just moved out three days prior to the burglary. The neighbor was able to pick Perez out of a photo line up as the man he saw pry open the door.

A warrant was issued for Perez. On Tuesday, he was picked up on the warrant. He was charged with burglary and grand theft and he was booked into jail.

April 12, 2009

Boat yard fire damages structure, boats

Fire photos

Marathon - A fire at Keys Boat Works in Marathon Saturday night burned a number of boats and damaged the marina as well.

Reports are not yet complete, but dispatch notes indicate at least 5 to 6 boats burned during the fire, which also spread to the marina itself. It appears the fire may have started on board a 39 foot vessel called “Sand Piper” out of St. Petersburg. A witness told Deputy Chris Frasier he saw sparks and heard a loud “bang” noise from the boat before seeing flames coming from it just before 10 p.m.

Firefighters had the fire under control by 11:30 p.m. and it appears that no one was hurt. The Fire Marshall’s Office will be investigating.

April 9, 2009

Deputies look for escapee from Big Pine Road Prison

Sheriff’s deputies are on the lookout this afternoon for a man who reportedly walked away from the Big Pine Road Prison.

38 year old Steven Coccarelli is reported to have walked away from the State Prison facility sometime around 3:30 – 4 p.m. this afternoon. He is in prison on charges of armed robbery. He is described as a white male who has shaved his head; five foot 6 inches tall, 197 pounds; last seen wearing a blue prison uniform with a white undershirt. He has a tattoo of a heart on his left shoulder and the word “Lisa” tattooed on his right shoulder. He may be dangerous, so if you spot him, or have information about him, please call 911 immediately.

For more information about the escape, or the escapee, please contact the Big Pine Road Prison or the Florida Department of Corrections.

Islamorada man arrested for aggravated battery

Islamorada - An Islamorada man is in jail today charged with cutting another man with a knife.

Deputies responded to Blackwood Drive at 2 p.m. after the victim called Sheriff’s dispatchers and reported he’d been cut with a knife. The incident reportedly took place on board a boat off shore of that area.

The victim said he went to the boat “Christopher” to visit with 51 year old Robert Anderton. He said he just sold the boat to Anderton and he wanted to talk to him about money he owed him for the boat.

Once on board, the two men got into an altercation. The victim said Anderton picked up a knife and held it to his throat. He said he grabbed the knife with his hand and moved it away from his throat. At that point, Anderton pulled the knife away from his hand, cutting him.

Deputies responded to the boat with the help of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Anderton denied the incident took place, but evidence found on the boat supported the victim’s story. Anderton was arrested, charged with aggravated battery and he was taken to jail. The victim refused medical treatment.

Little Torch man charged with burglary

Little Torch Key – A Little Torch Key man was arrested after the caretaker of a church caught him after he’d broken in.

The caretaker of the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witness on Barry Avenue, Little Torch Key, called the Sheriff’s Office at 7:15 p.m. to report someone had broken into the building. Deputy Chris Rhinhart and Chief Ken Dugger responded. They found the reporting person on the scene. He pointed to the suspect, 38 year old Darrell Brown, who was still there. They also found a window that Brown had broken to get inside.

The caretaker told them he’d caught Brown inside and when he confronted him, Brown quickly left the building. Brown admitted to Deputy Rhinhart that he did break in through the window because he wanted to see the inside of the hall.

Brown was arrested, charged with burglary and he was taken to jail.

Altercation leads to man being injured, airlifted

Key Largo – A Key Largo man is in critical condition at Ryder Trauma Center in Miami after he fell and may have hit his head during an altercation with another man Wednesday.

Witnesses say 39 year old Juan Leyva was sitting outside in a golf cart when 67 year old Luis Perez walked over to him and attacked him at 11 a.m. at Travel Trailer Town at the 96.4 mile marker of highway U.S. One. Perez reportedly hit Leyva repeatedly and Leyva pushed him away and hit him once in defense. Perez tripped and fell, and apparently hit his head on the ground. After he hit his head, he reportedly tried to get up a number of times and kept falling down. That is when Leyva said he knew something was wrong and he called 911 for help.

The witnesses say prior to the attack Perez was walking around the area acting strangely. When deputies arrived, they told Perez to lie still until Paramedics arrived. Perez continued trying to get up despite the deputy’s instructions.

Perez was transported to Mariner’s Hospital where he reportedly lost consciousness. At that point, he was airlifted to Miami where he remains in critical condition. Investigations are continuing.

21 year old charged with “Open House Party”

Marathon – A 21 year old Marathon resident was arrested in the early morning hours today after an 18 year old girl collapsed at a party and had to be treated at the hospital for consuming a large amount of alcohol.

According to witnesses at the party, the girl began drinking shots of vodka around 10 p.m. They said she continued drinking even though a number of people tried to get her to stop. She eventually collapsed on the floor around 1:15 a.m.

Paramedics transported her to Fisherman’s Hospital where she was treated for the alcohol consumption and for a possible concussion she may have received when she collapsed. The man renting the property, 21 year old Vinson Fox-Hunt told Deputy Joel Slough the girl had recently moved into the residence and was renting a room from him. He admitted to knowing she was under 21 years of age and admitted to allowing her to consume alcohol in his residence.

Fox-Hunt was charged with allowing a minor to consume alcohol at an open house party. He was booked into jail.

April 8, 2009

Key Largo man charged with New Year's attack

Key Largo - A Key Largo man was arrested Tuesday, charged with hitting another man over the head with a champagne bottle shortly after midnight on New Year's.

The attack took place in the men's restroom at the Caribbean Club in Key Largo. The 36 year old victim is from Thailand and does not speak or understand English. Deputy Kyle Page responded to Mariner's Hospital, where he was being treated for his injuries. Through an interpreter, the victim told him he and his friends went to the Club after midnight. He said at one point he went to the restroom. He said he was confronted by a man who said something to him he didn't understand and gestured toward his pants. The man then reportedly hit him in the head with a champagne bottle. The man said something again to the victim, again gesturing to his pants. He hit the victim a second time with the bottle, then ran out of the restroom.

The victim called a friend to pick him up and take him to the hospital. They then called the Sheriff's Office to report the attack.

Interviews with a number of people at the Caribbean Club led Detective Mike Wilkinson to identify 20 year old Alexander Acs as the suspect. A warrant was issued for his arrest. ON Tuesday, he was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center on charges of aggravated battery.

17 year old almost shot over belt buckle

belt buckle gun

Stock Island - A 17 year old Stock Island boy faced a drawn gun and a tense stand off with Sheriff's detectives Tuesday morning because he was wearing a belt buckle that looked just like a gun.

Deputies and detectives were investigating reports of a possible kidnapping on Stock Island at 10 a.m. The reporting person told Sheriff's dispatchers he saw a girl being forced into a blue four door Chevrolet sedan. As deputies responded to Maloney Avenue, where the incident occurred, Detective Donnie Catala recognized the description of the car and knew the person who usually drove it lived at Stock Island apartments. He went to that location to look for it and found it parked in the parking lot with someone in the driver's seat. He called for back up.

As Detective Kim Trullender and Deputy Michelle Lee arrived, the driver exited the car. As he walked toward Detective Catala, the detective saw what looked like a .25 caliber Beretta stuck into his waistband. He drew his gun and told the suspect to put his hands up.

The 17 year old did not follow the detectives orders, instead reaching down to place his keys and cell phone on the bumper of van parked next to him. He then began reaching for his waistband, telling the detective it was not a gun it was a belt buckle.

Fortunately for the 17 year old, he followed the detectives subsequent orders to stop reaching for his waistband. He put his hands up, and laid on the ground. Once he was secured, a search did reveal the gun to be a belt buckle shaped like a gun.

In the meantime, deputies spoke with the victim and she denied being kidnapped. The 17 year old boy was allowed to go, minus the gun shaped belt buckle which was confiscated.

Deputy injured while subduing fighting suspect

Sugarloaf Key - A deputy went to the hospital for treatment of an injury to his hand after a struggle with a violent man at the Sugarloaf KOA Campground Tuesday night.

Deputies Deborah Ryan and Walter Kirchner responded to the campground to reports of a fight at 9:45 p.m. When they arrived, witnesses directed them to a tent where they said one of the men involved in the fight was hiding. The deputies found 18 year old Vincent Deegan laying on an air mattress. He would not respond when the deputies spoke to him or when they checked his pulse and made sure he was breathing. When they tried to rouse him with a sternum rub, however, he immediately began fighting them violently.

The deputies struggled with him, yelling at him to stop fighting and that they just wanted to talk with him. He continued to fight and, in an effort to get him under control, they began trying to handcuff him. They finally got him under control with threats of Taser use. During the struggle, Deegan grabbed Deputy Ryan's radio and threw it across the room. He also bit Deputy Kirchner on the pinky finger. The bite was so severe, the bone of the finger was showing. It took five stitches at the hospital to close the injury.

Deegan was charged with three counts of battery and one count of aggravated battery on law enforcement officers; resisting arrest with violence and obstruction by depriving an officer of her means of communication. He was booked into jail.

April 6, 2009

Miami man dies while swimming in canal

Key Largo - A Miami man died Sunday after jumping off a boat in a canal and failing to surface.

The man was with friends and family members Sunday at 5 p.m. at Calusa Campground in Key Largo. A number of people saw 41 year old Joel Rodriguez jump off the boat into the canal. He'd been on the boat playing with his children. He'd reportedly had 2 - 3 beers prior to jumping in the water. When he didn't re-surface, several people jumped in to look for him.

The Sheriff's Office and Key Largo Fire Rescue divers responded and recovered the man's body. An autopsy will be done to attempt to determine the cause of his death.

Deputies pull handicapped man from burning trailer

Marathon – Sheriff’s dispatchers received a call Saturday morning from a handicapped man who said he was trapped in his trailer, which was on fire.

When Reserve Deputy Chris Fraser arrived, Deputy Rosa DiGiovanni was already on the scene. She was removing the handicapped owner, Wayne Hiland, from the burning trailer. Paramedics took charge of Hiland, who was taken to the hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation. Deputy Fraser and Deputy Ken Fricke used a garden hose to keep the flames at bay until firefighters arrived and extinguished the fire. Fire Marshall Adam Genies arrived and, after examining the scene, said it appears the fire started in a power strip near the television set  which had overheated.

Deputy DiGiovanni was also treated at the hospital for smoke inhalation.

April 4, 2009

Two charged with laying sewer laterals without a license

Two men were arrested Friday, charged with performing sewer work on Big Coppitt Key without a contracting license or an occupational license.

Deputy Matt Dowling was contacted by Monroe County Code Enforcement because they had information an unlicensed plumbing contractor who was installing sewer laterals on Big Coppitt Key.

A witness had given a description of two men who'd been seen digging a number of ditches in the area; He said they were driving a brown colored Ford Explorer. Deputy Dowling responded to the area and began looking for the vehicle.

He spotted the Explorer on 4th Street with three people inside, two men and a woman. After questioning the two men inside, he arrested them. They admitted to performing sewer lateral work without proper licensing and permits.

Investigations revealed they would have the homeowners pull a "Homeowner's Permit"; they would then dig the ditch for the lateral by hand and lay the pipe, but would not hook it up. They charged $500.00 for the illegal work.

Initial examination of records at Code Enforcement revealed three people who'd hired the two men. A second examination of records late Friday afternoon turned up several more permit applications with drawings similar to those in the first three applications.

49 year old Ignacio Duran of Homestead and 46 year old Howard Lorimor of Big Coppitt Key were both booked into jail for fraud - falsely identifying themselves as contractors, and with a municipal ordinance violation - performing the work without a county occupational license.

Investigations into the case are continuing. Anyone who has information about the case, or who may have had work done by these two men should call the Sheriff's Office at 305-745-3184.

Man goes berserk, attacks friends and deputies

Stock Island - Deputies responded to an apartment on 3rd Avenue, Stock Island to reports a man had gone berserk and attacked several people at a party.

Witnesses and victims at the party told Deputy Danielle Malone that Kevin Harrison suddenly went crazy and they have no idea why. They said they were all partying together and he suddenly got up and broke the door down to a back bedroom, attacking two people sleeping there with a folding knife. He cut the male victim on his hand, arm and torso and hit the woman in the head with a fist before the man could force him out of the room and barricade the door against further attack. Harrison then reportedly attacked two more people who tried to come to the assistance of their friends.

When deputies arrived, Harrison had left the scene on a bicycle he stole from the apartment; he returned a short time later, though, and was arrested and handcuffed. Once he was in custody, however, he again went berserk. He began yelling that his wife was sick and that he wanted to kill himself. He began hitting his head against the patrol car he was sitting by. When the deputies on scene moved him away from the car, he continued banging his head against the concrete. As the officers struggled to keep him from hurting himself further, he continued to fight and spit blood at them repeatedly; they finally called for paramedics so they could immobilize him on a backboard to prevent his self-destructive behavior.

He was finally strapped down by paramedics and taken to the hospital for treatment of his self-inflicted wounds. He was later taken to the Monroe County Detention Center where he was booked and charged with aggravated battery, two counts of battery, three counts of battery on law enforcement officers, criminal mischief and theft.

Stock Island man charged with burglary

A Stock Island man was arrested Friday on a warrant for burglary.

The burglary took place on March 21st at a home on Second Street, Stock Island. A neighbor called the Sheriff's Office to report two men going in and out of the trailer; the neighbor said he saw them removing the casing from an air conditioner. When deputies arrived, one of the men was still on the scene. The other had fled when the neighbor confronted him about his actions.

The neighbor had also called the victim, who came home and found the air conditioner, and some tools missing from his home. The man who was still on the scene when Deputy Daniel Chu arrived said 58 year old Onelio Garcia had asked him to help get an air conditioner from a place where he worked. The man said he had no idea he was doing anything illegal.

The victim said Garcia had done some odd jobs for him, but certainly did not have permission to return to the property while he was gone and remove any items.

A warrant was issued for Onelio Garcia for burglary. On Friday, he was booked into jail on the charge.

April 3, 2009

Airport runway opens after  plane makes emergency landing

plane close up


A  plane carrying seven passengers made an emergency landing today at the Key West International Airport. Monroe County firefighters, Monroe County Sheriff’s deputies and Key West Police stood by as the plane landed smoothly without further  incident at 1:20 p.m. No one was injured. The runway was closed until 2:45 p.m.

The plane was a Piper Cheyenne, piloted by Scott Ferguson from Tallahassee. The plane is registered to a company called Ivory Air LLC. The passengers on board were also from Tallahassee. There were two children on board and five adults.

Stock Island man charged with January burglary

Stock Island - A Stock Island man was arrested on a warrant for burglarizing a home on 9th Avenue in January.

The couple who lives there returned home the afternoon of January 29th to find someone had pried open their front door and stolen a large number of items, including a television set, jewelry, an Ipod, cell phones and cameras. They called the Sheriff's Office and Deputy Michael Claudy responded initially, followed by Crime Scene Investigator John Underwood and Detective Henry Hamilton.

The female victim decided to do some investigating of her own and began making phone calls to her friends. She was able to discover, through information from several sources, that 25 year old Michael Hamel was the one who broke in. When she confronted him, he admitted to the burglary and told her he'd return her stuff.

She gave the information she'd gathered to Detective Hamilton, who filed for a warrant for Hamel. The warrant, for burglary, grand theft and criminal mischief, was issued. On Wednesday, Hamel was arrested and booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

Alert neighbor assists with burglary arrest

Key Largo - An alert neighbor heard noise from a vacant home across the street early Thursday and called the Sheriff's Office. Deputies arrested a man they caught leaving the home.

Deputy Ian Barnett responded to the neighbor's call at 5 a.m. Thursday. When he arrived on Red Bird Road, he found evidence the home had been broken into and saw a bicycle inside, through a back window. He backed off and called for more officers to respond. He was standing in the street when a man, later identified as 38 year old Tony St. Pierre, rode out from behind the house on the bicycle Deputy Barnett had seen inside.

Deputy Barnett ordered him to stop, but St. Pierre kept riding as if to pass by the deputy. Deputy Barnett grabbed St. Pierre, stopping him and knocking him to the ground. The two struggled. Deputy Richard Bellon arrived and St. PIerre was tasered. When the Taser failed to stop his struggles, he was pepper sprayed. He finally gave up his struggles and was handcuffed.

Paramedics treated him at the scene for the effects of the pepper spray. While treating him, St. Pierre shook his long hair, throwing pepper spray on the paramedics.

St. Pierre was finally transported to the Monroe County jail, charged with two counts of battery on a law enforcement officer or firefighter; two counts of resisting arrest with violence, burglary, and resisting arrest without violence.

Man injured by pellet gun

Bay Point - Deputies responded to Palm Drive in Bay Point to reports of a man injured in the chest with a pellet gun Wednesday morning.

When Deputy Manuel Cuervo arrived, he found the 37 year old victim lying down. Paramedics were treating him and he said he was having trouble breathing. He had a pellet gun wound visible on his chest. The victim refused to tell the deputy what happened to him. He would only say "it was an accident". A neighbor, who had called 911 for help, said the victim told him a friend had shot him with a pellet gun accidentally.

The victim was airlifted by Monroe County's Trauma Star helicopter to the Ryder Trauma Center where he underwent surgery for his wound.

April 1, 2009

Two charged with drugs

Marathon - A traffic stop in Marathon early today resulted in two arrests for drug possession.

Deputy Ken Fricke stopped the 1999 Pontiac for speeding at 127th Street and U.S. One at 2 a.m. He was backed up by Deputy John Huff. During the stop, Deputy Fricke decided to walk his K-9 partner Tracer around the car. Tracer alerted strongly on the passenger side.

A search turned up marijuana, crack cocaine and 50 Ecstasy pills. The driver, 30 year old Derrick Jones of Marathon and the passenger, 38 year old Nehgui Cox of Palmetto Bay, Florida were both arrested. They were charged with possession of cocaine, marijuana and ecstasy and they were booked into jail.

Search warrant served on Stock Island

Stock Island - Marijuana and counterfeit money were seized during the execution of a search warrant on 4th Avenue, Stock Island Tuesday.

Narcotics detectives from the Sheriff's Special Investigations Division served the warrant at 5740 4th Avenue, lot 9, assisted by lower Keys road patrol deputies, detectives and Sheriff's K-9 team Deputy Ken Fricke and Tracer. During the search, detectives found 146 grams of marijuana, prepackaged for sale; along with $160 in counterfeit $20 bills.

Juan Carlos Noa was at the residence and admitted to selling the drugs for $10 per bag. He was arrested and charged with felony possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. A 23 year old boy at the residence told detectives he and a 14 year old girl also in the home were dating. The State Department of Children and Families was notified and will be looking into the matter further. The Secret Service has been notified about the counterfeit money, which was seized.