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Local News

Friday Afternoon Headlines

SANTA ROSA COUNTY WILDFIRE
Florida Forest Service crews are responding to a 5-acre wildfire in south Santa Rosa County.  It’s happening between Soundside Drive and Kittyhawk Lane in the Midway area.  Blackwater Forestry Center spokesman Joe Zwierzchowski says they will work to determine the cause after they get it put out, but says that area has not seen much rain despite other parts of the county seeing heavy rains the past few days.

MANHUNT FOLLOWING PINE FOREST ROAD CRASH
A search is on for two people who fled from a traffic crash this morning.  FHP says at 10:30am, a Chrysler 200 ran a red light and struck a Jeep Liberty being driven by 55-year old Joanne Brancati causing it to overturn.  Two people inside the Chrysler 200 then took off on foot.  Brancati was taken to Sacred Heart Hospital with minor injuries.  If you know anything about the two people who fled are asked to call FHP.

PENSACOLA MEN SENTENCED FOR ROBBING PIZZA DELIVERY DRIVERS
The two 19-year old men who robbed three pizza delivery drivers last year receive 30 years in state prison. Over the course of four days in June 2018, Michael Anthony Christian, Jr. and Keith Ramone Walker, Jr. robbed three different pizza delivery drivers, kicking one in the head and reaching into the bra of another.  Prosecutors say both Christian and Walker had also broken into several cars and had stolen several firearms and numerous other items.

GROCERY ADVANTAGE SHOOTER IDENTIFIED
We are now learning the identity of the man Escambia County deputies say fired shots inside a grocery before deputies shot him.  29-year old Reginald Booker of Pensacola is identified as the suspect deputies shot during the active shooter situation yesterday afternoon inside the Grocery Advantage on New Warrington Road.  ECSO says the deputy hit Booker twice.  Booker is still hospitalized.

SANTA ROSA COUNTY INMATE DIED BEHIND BARS
A Santa Rosa County man charged with murder dies behind bars.  The Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office says Robert Shane Lucas was found dead in his cell at 5am today.  Lucas was charged with killing his mother-in-law Carrie Brewer at her home on Fulva Drive in Navarre back in February.  Lucas was also facing related charges of stealing a car and leading deputies on a high speed chase.  Sargent Rich Aloy says detectives are currently working the case as a possible suicide.

PENSACOLA MAN ARRESTED IN MASSAGE PARLOR INVESTIGATION
A Pensacola man is facing federal human trafficking charges after raids on area massage parlors yesterday.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office says 41-year old David Williams was arrested yesterday for using interstate facilities for purposes of racketeering, money laundering conspiracy, and the harboring of illegal aliens for commercial advantage or private financial gain.  Yesterday, a dozen search warrants were executed in three states including at massage parlors in Pensacola and Gulf Breeze.  Federal agents also seized bank accounts linked to the allegations against Williams.  A detention hearing for Williams has been set for Tuesday in Pensacola federal court.

GALLERY NIGHT THREAT
Pensacola police say there’s no credible threat regarding a rumor spreading on social media warning people of a potential shooting at Gallery Night tonight.  The threat was copied and pasted and spread rapidly on Facebook last night and warns people that high school and college students had gotten a text “saying that a man wants to shoot up Seville Quarter tonight. PPD spokesman Mike Wood says law enforcement is aware of the threat but does not believe it to be credible.  Wood says uniformed and plain clothes officers will be at Gallery Night tonight, just as they are every Gallery Night.

BUS IN DITCH
An Escambia County school bus wound up in a ditch Thursday evening. It happened when the bus ran off the road in the 1900 block of Detroit Boulevard.  Channel 3 says  a parent whose daughter was on the bus told them the children were coming from Beulah Middle School and 15to 20 students were on the bus.  It is unclear how the bus ended up in the ditch and the investigation is continuing.

DRUG TRAFFICKING SENTENCE
A plea to drug trafficking charges results in a 15 year prison sentence for a Pensacola woman.  The State Attorney’s office says 34-year old Jacqueline Michelle Alonso entered a plea yesterday to charges of conspiracy and trafficking in meth.  Escambia County Sheriff’s deputies pulled over a car on Highway 29 in Molino in March.  In it, they found 520 grams of meth.  Alonso’s sentence is a mandatory minimum that must be served day for day.

COUNTY ETHICS UNIT
Escambia County Administrator Janice Gilley is creating a new ethics compliance unit in the county government. Gilley announced she was creating the new office in the county during Thursday’s County Commission meeting. The county’s internal investigator Keith Morris will lead the new unit, which will be put together with existing resources inside the county. Gilley tells the PNJ the new unit will have two main goals to review existing county policy, ordinances and codes to ensure there are no conflicting rules and to ensure all county employees are operating under those rules consistently.

FLORIDA JOBLESS NUMBERS
Florida’s unemployment rate is down.  Governor Ron Desantis announced that the state added about 23-thousand jobs last month, pushing the unemployment rate down to three-point-three-percent.  The jobless rate is down one-tenth of a percent from June and two-tenths of a percent from one-year ago.  The governor’s office says the Pensacola area added 1,100 new private-sector jobs in the past year bringing the area’s unemployment rate was 3.4 percent in July, down 0.2 percentage point from one year ago.  The industry with the highest growth over the year in the Pensacola area was education and health services with 1,200 new jobs. In July, Pensacola area had 6,797 job openings and of those, 1,881 were for high-skill, high-wage STEM jobs.

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