ESPER TO PENSACOLA
Following an act of terrorism at Naval Air Station Pensacola, the government says it will soon announce revamped protocols for security, physical security and vetting at U.S. military bases. Chief Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Rath Hoffman says Defense Secretary Mark Esper will visit Pensacola next week to thank the personnel who responded to the mass shooting at NAS Pensacola December 6th. He would not give specifics on what the new policies would entail, but confirmed the changes would include more direct screening by the Department of Defense. A 21-year-old Saudi aviation trainee killed three service members and wounded eight other people during an armed rampage through an classroom building at NAS Pensacola. He was ultimately killed by responding law enforcement.
BED TAX DEBATE
A majority of Escambia County Commissioners voiced support for raising the county’s hotel bed tax at some point this year, but only when they finalize a list of projects that would be funded by the increased tax. The top two items on the list would be to help partially fund the Bob Sikes Bridge replacement and a potential Pensacola Bay Center renovation or replacement. The commission discussed increasing the bed tax, officially known as the Tourist Development Tax, by one cent at its Committee of the Whole meeting on Thursday. Escambia County is legally allowed to collect up to five cents but currently only collects four cents. The current tax generates about $12 million a year. More than half of that goes to fund Visit Pensacola, which promotes tourism. Officials estimate raising the tax would generate another $3 million a year.
Gay rights advocates in the Panhandle are worried about the recent actions of lawmakers in Tallahassee. Four bills filed this week affect LGBTQ rights, including a House bill that would repeal workplace discrimination laws. One person who opposes the bills tells Channel 3 News the Republican lawmakers behind the bills should look past their own beliefs and put themselves in other people’s shoes.
SUBSTANCE IN DORM
The police department at Pensacola State College is investigating after officers found an unidentified controlled substance on campus Wednesday evening. The state attorney’s office confirmed this is a criminal investigation. Thomas Gilliam, Vice President of General Counsel at Pensacola State, tells Channel 3 campus police came into contact with the substance while on their regular patrols. The city’s fire rescue and the Escambia County hazmat team were then called to the campus dorm room to investigate. The substance was removed quickly. Campus police say no one was injured and there is no current threat to the campus. There have been no arrests. Campus police is now waiting for test results from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to confirm what the substance was. The dorms where the substance was found are reserved for student athletes.
WANTED FOR QUESTIONING
The Pensacola Police Department is trying to find two men wanted for questioning in Friday’s shooting incident near the McDonald’s on Cervantes at 9th Avenue. Police are searching for 26-year-old Boderick Eugene Davis and 23-year-old De’Aundre Da’Jun Jordan. Both are wanted for questioning only, but Jordan has an active warrant with PPD with a $100,000 bond. Police say both are possibly armed and dangerous.