Tag Archives: fort myers

Remember When the Mall Easter Bunny Got Arrested?

The scene, Edison Mall, 2006. They have an Easter Bunny area where families could come and get their picture taken with the Easter Bunny. 27 parents were lined up when the Bunny-manager decided to shut down for the day, 15 minutes early. One of the parents approached the manager and asked why, to which the manager replied, “because I felt like it”, and punched the mom in the face. When the bunny saw the manager involved in a fight, he jumped in and started punching the mom in the back of the head.

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Arthur McClure, the Rogue Rabbit

The Bunny, Art McClure, claims that he and the manager, his girlfriend, were acting in self-defense when the “mob of angry soccer moms” came after them. Ultimately, McClure was charged with misdemeanor battery and breach of the peace, and pled out  to time served on the charges a couple weeks later. The responding officer got statements from half a dozen of the parents, who all indicated McClure and his girlfriend were the aggressors. It’s like Bad Santa for another season!

It’s too bad that cell phone cameras were not as common then, and even the snapshots that were taken don’t seem to have made it to the internet. McClure’s listed occupation on the arrest report is “Easter Bunny”, though this was his last day on the job.

What Can be Done About the Unsolved Murders in Fort Myers?

An NBC-2 Investigative report yesterday examined the unsolved homicides, and discussed cases that have suspects, but that the State does not think there is enough evidence to pursue charges. It sounds like there is some finger pointing between FMPD and other members of the community and the State Attorney’s Office as to who is to blame here. I think the story doesn’t even get into the biggest issues.

The biggest issues are not the law enforcement disputes. Rather, it is:

  1. There are way to many unsolved murders in Fort Myers. NBC found 253 homicide investigations since 2010 (That’s a lot!) and found only 146 charges have been filed for those crimes. That is a lot of victims and their families who have not seen justice.
  2. The far-and-away-number 1-biggest problem, is witness cooperation… or lack thereof. Mr. Russell does talk about the issue, and stresses that it is important to continue to work to support victims.

We definitely need more murderers off the streets, but it’s not just an issue of the State not wanting to take chances… Mr. Russell points to the Zhi Huang case, where an arrest was made without SAO input, and a grand jury failed to indict the evidence was so lacking. And the greater problem with doing that is that if evidence comes up later implicating the person who was arrested, it may be too little too late due to double jeopardy. Fortunately, the State was later confident to charge Eugene Johnson in that recent case that initially suffered from a lack of evidence. It’s not right to point the finger at the State on cases where evidence is lacking, though more cooperation and communication may help solve the cases, and it could help prevent the aforementioned finger pointing.

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Andrew Faust Jr.

The case that best encapsulates the greatest problem fighting violent crime in Fort Myers was the case of Andrew Faust Jr. Andrew was a five-year-old little boy who was shot in his home; an innocent killed by the wayward bullet of a drive-by shooting. After weeks without charges, a witness finally came forward and two men were charged in the case. However, the witness became uncooperative, and ultimately the charges had to be dropped. Since they were previously charged and speedy trial has run, they can never be charged again.

Here’s the thing about that case… the State did not handle as well as possible. While Mr. Russell is right when he tells NBC that we need to work with, support, and protect victims, his office tried to arrest the essential witness, the only person who could implicate the Defendants (after erroneously serving her sister with a subpoena). The attitude toward the witness likely contributed to her later uncooperativeness. It’s up to law enforcement at all levels, from the State Attorney to the street-level cop, to build up trust in the community, and to get the community to work together. Chief Diggs has already spoken about that need, and started outreach efforts to start building that trust. He said he didn’t know how bad it was before he got here and got to work, but it’s good to see him digging in. Hopefully he and the State Attorney, and the Sheriff, and all of the relevant agencies can work together to improve the problems in Fort Myers.

We’re all in it together! Community outreach like the efforts of Chief Diggs is the first step to reducing crime in Fort Myers, and we should all support those efforts.

The New Fort Myers Police Chief is Reaching Out to the Community

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FMPD Chief Derrick Diggs

After my last couple posts, I am glad to change it up with some positive news coming from law enforcement. The new Chief of FMPD held a couple of community engagement sessions for the purpose of building a relationship between the department and the community. Chief Derrick Diggs held two sessions today, and is holding another session tomorrow. I think he has his work cut out for him, but every journey begins with the first step. Ironically, the News-Press linked relates stories to this one, so as you read the article, there are linked headlines to stories about harassment, and persistent discrimination at the Department.

Chief Diggs is taking the first positive steps to develop a positive culture at FMPD, which is a building block to connecting with the community and hopefully addressing the violence that has become persistent.

Police Looking for More Info from Tipster RE: Zombicon Shooting

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Surveillance Footage from Zombicon

FMPD held a press conference today, and asked a tipster who previously came forward with valuable information to get in contact with them again. They are hoping to get more vital information from a tipster that contacted them around November 11-13. They have followed up on hundreds of different tips, and believe that one of the tipsters may have the information needed to make an arrest.

They are asking anyone who made a tip during that time to contact them tomorrow or next Wednesday, between 9 am and 3 pm at 1-800-780-TIPS (8477). They reward for information leading to arrest is no at $36,000. Police stressed that the young man who was shot, Expavious ‘Tyrell’ Taylor was a totally innocent victim.

Video of High Speed Motorcycle Crash after Flight

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Joey Pinheiro

A 21-year-old man tried to take off from an attempted traffic stop on Easter morning, only to collide with a turning vehicle as he sped away: and surveillance cameras caught the dramatic collision on video. It’s a stark and scary reminder of the violence when one more more vehicles is travelling at a high rate of speed. Miraculously, the motorcycle driver, Joey Pinheiro of North Fort Myers, survived, and will likely be facing criminal charges.

WATCH: Motorcycle smashes into car after Easter morning chase

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Robert Hayden Jr., via LCSO

There was another high-profile fleeing case on Easter, as a man riding an ATV in traffic on Palm Beach also fled from an attempted traffic stop. That man also ended up crashing his vehicle, though he ended up stuck in a ditch, and with less serious injuries. Robert Hayden Jr.  was charged with fleeing, as well as possession of marijuana and for gun charges. Failing to stop for law enforcement officers is a felony in Florida: so many times the fleeing charge ends up being more serious than whatever infraction for which the cops initially tried to stop somebody.

Video Exonerated Another Officer

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Ashley Bills

Ashley Bills was arrested this week after she tried to defraud her friend. She claimed a deputy tried to extort money from her, or that she’d be arrested. The victim gave her some money, but when she tried to mooch some more, he called a lawyer. The lawyer was worried about police misconduct, so the FPMD pulled the tape! The video showed that Bills was making the extortion claim up, and she ended up getting arrested.
The video is evidence that helps us find justice…

UPDATE: corrected to indicate it was FMPD that pulled the tape, and solved the crime! Good job.

FMPD Chief Eads Personally Helped Arrest a Guy for Pooping

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  • Crimcourts Exclusive:

There’s a comment here about the interim chief not being afraid to get his hands dirty… I’m sure. Eads was called over by a citizen who was worried that a hispanic man appeared to be ill. The man happened to be local infamous homeless crazy-person Victor Casiano. When the chief and another officer located Casiano, his drawers were down, as he was pooping in the woods. Eads and the other officer arrested him for indecent exposure.

While we might admire the chief’s willingness to jump to duty, Crimcourts would like to point out it is not illegal to shit in the woods. Bill Bryson is relieved. To qualify as Indecent Exposure, under Florida law, there must be some “lacsiviousness”. Merely pooping, especially if he tried to discreet himself in the woods, is not a crime. Fortunately, Mr. Casiano was released on his own recognizance, but not after spending a night in jail. It’s a bad look that the department still doesn’t use better judgment over when to arrest people, especially after the Nate Allen fiasco just last year.

Related Update: It’s also not illegal to check your mail naked, but it will get the cops called on you, as this guy found out in Collier County. For the behavior to be criminalized, there has to be more, and Collier Sheriff’s Deputies showed a little more, correct, restraint.