Homeless woman attacked by gator while swimming in Lake Hernando

FWC officials say a homeless woman was swimming in Lake Hernando when a 5- to 6-foot alligator grabbed her by her left arm and dragged her underwater. 

FWC officials say a homeless woman was swimming in Lake Hernando when a 5- to 6-foot alligator grabbed her by her left arm and dragged her underwater.

Officials say the woman was able to get away and called 911. She was treated at the Ocala Regional Hospital with non-life threatening injuries, sources said.

FWC and the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office are working to catch the gator, the CCSO said. Whoever catches it can keep the meat and the hide as part of the state wide nuisance alligator program, FWC said. Florida’s alligator hunting season started Aug. 15.

Officials say anyone who believes a specific alligator poses a threat to people, pets, or property they should call the toll-free Nuisance Alligator Hotline at 866-FWC-GATOR or 866-392-4286.

Hear the woman’s 911 call by clicking the play button below:

‘Operation Oxy-Clean’ nets five arrests

The Citrus County Sheriff’s Office cleaned up several streets in the Citrus County community early in the morning hours on April 20, 2018 during OPERATION OXY-CLEAN.
FROM LEFT: Louis Pepe, Susan Pepe, both of Floral City; Shawn Carpenter of Hernando; Steven Minnella and Glenn Wilson, both of Inverness. (PHOTOS: Citrus County Sheriff’s Office on April 20, 2018). CLICK IMAGE ABOVE TO SEE LARGER IMAGES.

The Citrus County Sheriff’s Office cleaned up several streets in the Citrus County community early Friday morning during OPERATION OXY-CLEAN.

Search and arrest warrants were served targeting oxycodone dealers at residences in Floral City, Hernando, and Inverness. The Sheriff’s Office’s Tactical Impact Unit concluded the operation today, netting five arrests.

Simultaneous search warrants were served at two locations resulting in arrests for selling prescription medication during undercover investigations. Detectives conducted undercover buys with the suspects throughout the last several weeks. A majority of the purchases were negotiated by telephone, resulting in more felony charges of Illegal Use of a Two-way Communication Device.

“Our multi-week investigation took dangerous drugs and drug dealers off our streets and has a significant impact on our community,” said Sheriff Mike Prendergast. “Once again, outstanding job by our Tactical Impact Unit, detectives, and patrol deputies, who have proven time and again that they will not stop until drugs are removed from this county.”

Notably, a mother and son duo, Susan Pepe, and her son, Louis Pepe, sold prescription pills on multiple occasions. Pepe and her son were arrested for the sale of a controlled substance during a search warrant of Louis Pepe’s home.

Glenn Wilson was arrested at his home during our second search warrant.

Other arrests include Steven Minnella of Inverness and Shawn Carpenter of Hernando. A search of a safe in Carpenter’s home yielded $8,000 cash.

OPERATION OXY-CLEAN yielded the following arrests:

Louis Pepe– age 31, Floral City
• 3 Counts of Sale of Controlled Substance (Oxycodone)
• 3 Counts of Illegal use of a Two-way Communication Device

Susan Pepe – age 56, Floral City
• 2 Counts of Sale of Controlled Substance (Oxycodone)
• 2 Counts of Illegal use of a Two-way Communication Device

Shawn Carpenter– age 46, Hernando
• 2 Counts of Sale of Controlled Substance (Oxycodone)
• 2 Counts of Illegal use of a Two-way Communication Device

Glenn Wilson – age 36, Inverness
• 2 Counts of Sale of Controlled Substance (Oxycodone)
• 2 Counts of Illegal use of a Two-way Communication Device

Steven Minnella – age 53, Inverness
• 2 Counts of Sale of Controlled Substance (Oxycodone)

No explosives found after Spring Hill bomb scare

Bomb squads on Wednesday from Citrus County and Hernando County were called out to a report of a suspicious package at a bus stop in Spring Hill.

Stock image. PHOTO BY: Robby Douglas.

Bomb squads on Wednesday from Citrus County and Hernando County were called out to a report of a suspicious package at a bus stop in Spring Hill.

No explosives were found when a bomb squad responded to a shopping center in Spring Hill Wednesday.

Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis told reporters that at about 8 a.m. today called 911 after seeing a suspicious package near a bus stop and the Twistee Treat ice cream shop at the Mariner Square Shopping Center, at Cortez Boulevard/SR 50 and Mariner Boulevard.

The Citrus County bomb squad x-rayed the package before using a water cannon to blow it up,

Investigators say they are still working to figure out what was inside the package.

Citrus County firefighters assist in 110-acre Hernando County blaze

Citrus County Fire Rescue was called out to assist Hernando County when a brush fire bbroke out on Friday in a wooded subdivision in the Weeki Wachee area.

Citrus County Fire Rescue was called out to assist Hernando County when a brush fire broke out on Friday in a wooded subdivision in the Weeki Wachee area.

No injuries were reported, but two homes were destroyed and one was damaged.

The fire was eventually contained as of 10 p.m.. Fire officials have deemed the fire as being “suspicious,” and are investigating to determine the exact cause that started the blaze.

Citrus County firefighters joined Hernando County Fire Rescue and the Florida Forest Service in the effort to extinguish the fire.

 

 

 

Man threatening to ‘shoot someone’ dies in hail of bullets after chase

A man who had allegedly threatened to shoot someone at a Hernando business died himself on Saturday following a chase by Citrus County deputies and a subsequent exchange of gunfire.

The Citrus County Sheriff’s Office shot and killed a man who had threatened to shoot someone at a Hernando business and then led deputies on a wild chase before crashing near that business. (CCSO photo on February 17, 2018)

A Hernando man who had allegedly threatened to shoot someone at a Hernando business died himself on Saturday following a chase by Citrus County deputies and a subsequent exchange of gunfire.

At approximately 5 p.m. deputies started looking for a Blue KIA Sedona after Citrus County Sheriff’s Office dispatch received a call stating 28-year-old Brian Batchelder from Hernando was making threats to shoot someone at the Xtreme games 3 store at the U.S. 41 / State Road 200 apex across from the Cumberland Farms gas station in Hernando.

Patrol units quickly found Batchelder speeding down U.S. 41 north toward the shop. Batchelder failed to stop his vehicle, the CCSO said. A pursuit ensued Northbound on State Road 200. Because of high speeds and traffic volume, the chase was canceled. Marion County Sheriff’s Office was also notified, the CCSO said.

A short time later, deputies found Batchelder speeding down Southbound on County Road 491 and then Southbound on U.S. 41 through Hernando, passing the Xtreme games 3 store, at which point he pointed a firearm at deputies, the Sheriff’s Office said. After multiple attempts to try and stop the vehicle, Batchelder ran the red light at the U.S. 41 and S.R. 200  apex traveling at a high rate of speed, directly toward CCSO deputies who put themselves between Batchelder and citizens.

He slammed his vehicle into a sheriff’s vehicle, which in turn, pushed the cruiser into three other parked cars, the Sheriff’s Office said.

The impact of the crash forced other vehicles into a CCSO deputy. That deputy sustained non-life-threatening injuries, and the deputy was taken to a nearby hospital.

The CCSO said that deputies were then forced to discharge their weapons toward Batchelder’s vehicle. Deputies were able to get Batchelder out of the vehicle, but he died a short time later.

“This is a very tragic turn of events, where a man lost his life. We are very thankful that our officers were not seriously injured and that the many citizens who were very close to this extremely dangerous situation did not suffer catastrophic injuries,” said Citrus County Sheriff Mike Prendergast.

“Again, we will count on FDLE to do a thorough investigation.”

FDLE will now take over the investigation. The deputies involved have been placed on administrative leave with pay per agency policy. We will not be releasing any more information regarding this case until FDLE is done with their investigation.

UPDATE ON SUNDAY, FEB. 18:

Below are the two names of the deputies who were put on paid administrative leave while the case is being investigated.

  • Deputy Ryne (no first name provided by the CCSO), who was hired on July 17, 2017;
  • Deputy Michael Anger, who was hired on Jan. 17, 2017.