Homosassa man holds off deputies, hides in secret compartment

A 30-year-old Homosassa man is in jail after holding off deputies for much of the day on Thursday.

A Homosassa man is in jail after holding off deputies for much of the day on Thursday at 4905 W. Cardinal St. in Homosassa. (Photo by Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (September 27, 2018)

A 30-year-old Homosassa man is in jail after holding off deputies for much of the day on Thursday.

Arrested was Brandon Hann, of 4905 W. Cardinal St. in Homosassa.

According to the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office, detectives with the Community Crimes United were looking for Hann in connection with several armed burglaries in the area.

They went to his home on Cardinal Street, and a woman inside the home first told deputies Hann was not there. However, she let detectives search inside the mobile home.   During the search, detectives found a hidden hole inside the floor of the bedroom closet.   The woman eventually told detectives that Hann was hiding inside the residence.

In the hours that followed, the CCSO said, detectives tried to calmly talk with Hann to get him to come out of the hidden compartment, but he refused.  The Sheriff’s Office’s K-9 unit was deployed, but was unable to find Hann because of the close confines of where he was hiding underneath the floor of the mobile home.   The CCSO SWAT and Crisis Negotiation teams were were sent to the scene.  Again, detectives tried to talk to Hann to gain a peaceful resolution, but he refused.

Meanwhile, patrol deputies shut down about a mile-and-a-half stretch of West Cardinal Street to traffic in the area.

After several unsuccessful attempts to get Hann to respond, SWAT Team members used CS tear gas to force Hann from the home.   Because Hann was wedged in the ventilation system underneath the home, he was not affected by the gas.

SWAT team members began removing pieces of the floor, and cutting out drywall to try and locate Hann.   Just before 7 p.m., Hann was discovered hiding inside a ventilation tube underneath the mobile home.  He was taken into custody without incident on several charges. including armed burglary, grand theft and possession of a firearm by convicted felon.   He was taken to the Citrus County Detection Center.

More charges are pending., the CCSO said.

 

Suicidal subject in custody after 7-hour standoff

SWAT Team members used tear gas to force a man from his truck following a seven-hour standoff

At approximately midnight Sunday, Citrus County Sheriff’s deputies responded to the parking lot of LKQ just off County Road 486 in Crystal River, in regard to an armed man who was threatening suicide and refusing to get out of his vehicle.

Security guards within LQK, which was closed at the time, say 41-year-old Kevin Cupit from Crystal River, became agitated when they asked why he was parked outside their gates.

In the hour that followed, deputies tried to calmly talk with Cupit and get him to put the gun down, but he refused. The Citrus County Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team and Crisis Negotiation Team were then activated to the scene. The Florida Highway Patrol and the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team was also on scene. Due to our concerns for the safety of our citizens, patrol shut down a main thoroughfare to traffic in the area. Westbound lanes of 486 at the intersection of 491/486 and all Eastbound lanes of 486 at the Pine Ridge entrance were closed.

After several unsuccessful attempts to get Cupit to respond, SWAT Team members used CS tear gas to force Cupit from the truck. Just after 7 a.m, Cupit darted out of his truck to escape the gas and ran from deputies. Cupit was subsequently tased and taken into custody without further incident. He was then taken a local hospital to be medically evaluated. Once Cupit was in custody, all lanes of CR 486 were open.

“I am so proud of the men and women who work for my agency. From our 9-1-1 communications officers, patrol deputies to our SWAT team and Crisis Negotiation Team members, they are all true professionals when it comes to dealing with people who are in crisis,” says Sheriff Mike Prendergast. “Thankfully, this situation ended successfully without any injuries to our team and the suspect was taken to the hospital for further evaluation.”

We also would like to thank the Florida Highway Patrol and the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team for their assistance in this incident.

No charges have been filed at this time.

11 pounds of pot seized during traffic stop

Citrus County deputies on Thursday seized 11 pounds of marijuana during a traffic stop in Inverness.

Gavin Greer

Citrus County deputies on Thursday seized 11 pounds of marijuana during a traffic stop in Inverness.

Just after 5 p.m., Tactical Impact Unit detectives pulled over a vehicle on East Dano Street and North Corbin Avenue.

After the vehicle failed to stop at a stop sign, detectives approached the car and detected the distinct smell of marijuana emitting from the vehicle. The driver, 19 year-old Gavin Greer of Inverness, was asked to step out of the vehicle while detectives conducted a free air sniff with K-9 Anakin.

After K-9 Anakin alerted to narcotics being inside the vehicle, detectives found 11 vacuum-sealed baggies containing marijuana, each weighing approximately a pound each, inside the car. Greer was placed under arrest for the intent to sell cannabis with a bond set at $5,000.

“Eleven pounds of marijuana is now off our streets,” said Sheriff Prendergast.

“While some may be argumentative about this bust, claiming it’s ‘just marijuana,’ let me tell you–first and foremost, marijuana is illegal in the state of Florida. This was a great catch by our Patrol and TIU detectives.”

 

2 arrested in Lecanto murder case

After a yearlong investigation, Citrus County detectives have solved the 2017 murder of 73-year-old James Thomas Roman of Lecanto.

Christopher Eugene Smith, 33 years old, from Dunnellon and Sara Atwood, 24 years old, from Inverness.

After a yearlong investigation, Citrus County detectives have solved the 2017 murder of 73-year-old James Thomas Roman of Lecanto.

Detectives were able to serve arrest warrants on two individuals: Christopher Eugene Smith, 33 years old, from Dunnellon and Sara Atwood, 24 years old, from Inverness.

This all unfolded back in May of 2017, when a deputy attempted to stop a vehicle near the intersection of State Road 200 and Orchid for a broken headlight. The vehicle failed to stop. After a very brief pursuit, the vehicle fled into Marion County. To try and locate the vehicle and owner, deputies responded to the address matching the tag which led them to 5281 W. Cardamon Place in Lecanto.

There they found the homeowner, James Roman, deceased. Medical examiner reports say Roman died of Traumatic Asphyxiation. The truck, being driven by Smith and owned by Roman, fled from the Florida Highway Patrol in Marion County.

Smith was arrested by FHP on several charges including fleeing and eluding and reckless driving. Smith served prison time for these charges in Jackson County, Florida. On Sept. 5, of this year, Smith was extradited back to Citrus County on murder charges.

Detectives say after lengthy investigation, they believe that Atwood, Roman’s granddaughter who he raised, conspired with Smith to murder Roman for financial gain. Atwood was arrested on Sept. 13, at the Citrus County Detention Center while she was serving time for unrelated charges. Both have no bond.

“Persistence and hard work is what made these arrests possible,” says Capt. Brian Spiddle of the Criminal Investigations Division. “Our detectives never stopped putting the puzzle together on this case.”

“This investigation was extensive with a lot of moving parts,” Sheriff Mike Prendergast said.

“I’m proud of our team who kept digging and left no stone unturned.” This investigation is still open and active as detectives interview more witnesses in the case.

Earn a high school diploma through your library

Individuals 19 years of age or older seeking to earn a high school diploma are encouraged to take advantage of Career Online High School, a program offered through the Citrus County Library System.

Scholarships are being awarded to qualified residents looking to earn an accredited private high school diploma and advance their careers.

To apply, visit //www.citruslibraries.org/cohs for details and access the online self-assessment available at the bottom of the page.

Each student enrolled in Career Online High School is paired with an academic coach who offers ongoing guidance and encouragement, evaluates performance and connects the learner with the resources needed to demonstrate mastery of the course material.

The program is specifically designed to reengage adults and prepare them for entry into the workforce or post-secondary education. Classes are supported by state board certified instructors, and students have 24/7 access to the online learning platform. Computers and Internet access are available through the library if needed and can be scheduled to meet the course requirements.

Many students are able to graduate in as little as four months by transferring in previously earned high school credits. All participants will also have the opportunity to earn a career certificate.

The Citrus Libraries Career Online High School project is funded by the State of Florida and is administered by Smart Horizons Career Online Education through a partnership with Gale Cengage Learning.

For more information or questions, call 352-765-4785 or email cohs@citruslibraries.org.

Student charged with making school threat over social media

A Lecanto High School pupil has been arrested and charged with making social media threats against a school

Citrus County Sheriff’s Office detectives have arrested a 16-year-old male Lecanto high school student who the Sheriff’s Office said it believes is responsible for making shooting threats against Citrus Springs Middle School on social media on Wednesday night.

The student suspect gave a full confession about his involvement, the CCSO said.

Detectives have recovered the firearms that he was holding that mentioned in the social media post.

Later today, CCSO Detectives  also arrested the student’s mother, Nancy York, 49, from Dunnellon. She is charged with one felony count of Tampering with Evidence (FSS 918.13) and has $5,000 bond.

In a related matter,16-year-old Conner Nee, also from Dunnellon, was charged with one felony count of False Report Concerning the Use of Firearms in a Violent Manner (FSS 790.163). Nee was transported to the Citrus County Detention Center, then transferred to the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) in Ocala.

The Citrus County Sheriff’s Office reminds residents to notify law enforcement if they see something suspicious, in person or online.

Floral City man dies after not dropping gun; UPDATE: Man identified

A Floral City man, thought to be possibly suicidal, was shot and killed on Friday night by Citrus County deputies.

Citrus County technicians and detectives investigate the scene where a man was shot and killed by a deputy. According to the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office, the man was shot after he refused to put down a weapon he was carrying (August 31, 2018)

A Floral City man, thought to be possibly suicidal, was shot and killed on Friday night by Citrus County deputies.

The Citrus County Sheriff’s Office said that the incident occurred at about 11:52 p.m. when deputies responded to a call of  a possibly suicidal man at a home at 5699 Sandalwood Way in Floral City.

Once deputies arrived on scene, they attempted to make contact with the subject at the front door. After unsuccessful attempts to locate the subject inside of the residence, deputies then began to search the outside of the home in an effort to locate and evaluate the man.

While in the front yard of the residence, deputies noticed a subject across the street in a wooded area, the Sheriff’s Office said. Deputies immediately began announcing themselves while walking toward a man in the woods. Deputies quickly noticed the man was holding a firearm.

Deputies gave several verbal commands to the man to lower and drop his weapon. After refusing their commands, deputies shot the armed man.

He was pronounced deceased at the scene. No deputies were injured during the incident.

As with any deputy-involved shooting, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is on scene and investigating this case. Following agency policy, deputies involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave with pay, pending the outcome of the preliminary FDLE investigation.

This is the second time this week a death occurred after an encounter with deputies.

The first was on Thursday, when a Beverly Hills woman, 45-year-old Jessica Cribbs, was shot and killed during a drug search warrant. In that incident, the woman pointed a gun at officers and refused to put it down. She was subsequently shot by a Hernando deputy and killed. The warrant for the drug search was executed by law enforcement officers from Citrus and Hernando counties.

UPDATE:

The Citrus County Sheriff’s Office on Sept. 6 identified the suicidal man shot by deputies is 64 year old Dennis Ray Blalock from Floral City.