This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.
Putnam County Sheriff’s Office detectives worked through the night Tuesday and this morning arrested Fernando Vargas, 18, in the shotgun slaying of Christian Eric Sanchez, 23, of Pomona Park, according to the Sheriff’s Office. The shooting happened shortly after 6:30 p.m. outside a Keown Avenue residence in Pomona Park where Sanchez lived. Vargas and a 16-year-old were playing basketball at Willard F. Hazen Memorial Park in Pomona Park when they saw Sanchez arguing with his girlfriend. Vargas stepped into the argument and the two men got into an altercation, according to Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Alison Waters-Merritt. They separated and Vargas, carrying a shotgun, walked with the woman to get her car, which was in front of Sanchez’s home a couple of blocks from the park. Sanchez followed in his vehicle and another argument began between the men. Vargas shot Sanchez who was still sitting in his car, according to the Sheriff’s Office. Vargas fled, and witnesses and then medical personnel attempted to save Sanchez, who died at the scene. Vargas was found at his house Tuesday evening and is currently in jail without bond on first-degree murder charges.
Palatka Police are investigating two shooting deaths on the city’s northside that happened within 48 hours. Police still haven’t released the name of the first victim whose body was found inside a home on North 11thh Street Sunday. They say the victim, who some have identified as Derreck Leonard, got in an argument with Oba Carter over a woman. A warrant has been issued for Carter, 46. On Tuesday a second shooting occurred outside an apartment building on North 16tth Street. Police say Joseph Brinson, 42, was the victim. They say they have several suspects. The shootings come only a couple of weeks after another shooting on the northside. The victim was released from the hospital, but Palatka Police say he is not being cooperative in helping find his shooter.
In St. Johns County two men are being charged with vehicular homicide felony in the death of three people last year. Van driver Christopher Converse and passengers Patricia Vos and Lora Holley were killed when Joseph Devenuta ran into the rear of their vehicle May 14, 2020. Joseph Devenuta, 70, and Lucas Hedeniemi-Hart, 20, were driving recklessly and chasing each other in a case of road rage when Devenuta ran into the van, which was stopped at a traffic light, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. FHP reports surveillance video shows the two drivers following each other closely and running each other off the road, chasing after one another. The chase went on for about two miles and witnesses saw the reckless driving by both. The two were earlier arrested this month.
The driver of a car stolen in Georgia ran afoul of the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office on Monday. Deputies were called to Palm Coast Parkway about a possible stolen vehicle and when they attempted to stop the gray Jeep Cherokee, the driver ignored the lights and sirens. Stop sticks were put out to stop the Jeep, but weren’t needed after the car in front of the Jeep came to an abrupt stop and the Jeep stopped. Driver Gregory Gilmore, 36, was ordered out of the car by deputies and complied. He was taken to the jail and charged with one count of grand theft of an auto with bail set at $2,500.
As expect some south Putnam County residents turned out for Tuesday’s county commission meeting to protest a local resident’s renewed request to use part of his Lake Como site for dumping Class B biosolids. Class B biosolids are defined as treated sewage sludge. The protest group’s website and t-shirts put their argument succinctly: Don’t Poop on Putnam. A special use permit application would allow the owner to put biosolids on 56 of 304 acres. The application meets requirements for dumping biosolids but some want to see no dumping allowed in the county citing environmental, odor and wildlife concerns. A workshop is set for June 8 at 2 p.m.
Four new coronavirus related deaths have been reported by Florida Department of Health – two in St. Johns County and two in Putnam County. That brings the Putnam death total since March a year ago to 156 and St. Johns to 221 deaths. Putnam also reported six new cases for a total of 6,655. St. Johns reported 17 new cases for a total of 23,144. Flagler County reported three new cases for a total of 7,450.
St. Johns County School Board members Tuesday heard from students and parents protesting school dress codes and from others upset over 80 girls’ photos in the Bartram Trail High School yearbook being photo edited to comply with dress codes. The school board discussed the dress code during the workshop dealing with the student code of conduct and proposed changes that include giving principals flexibility. Other changes include requiring shirts and tops to cover the entire shoulder of a student and to cover waistline and midriff. Students say the same rules should apply to girls and boys. One board member also proposed dropping a requirement that prohibits the excessive use of makeup. No vote was taken but the June deadline for passage of the code of conduct may be moved.
Tonight you can look up and see a full moon, but this one is extra special. It’s called a Flower Moon, named by Native Americans to mark the time when plants begin to bloom. Tonight’s Flower Moon also comes at the same time as the largest supermoon of the year, when the moon and earth appear closest. Also special, this year’s only total eclipse happens tonight. The East Coast will only see a partial eclipse.