On Air Now

Listen Now

Weather

cloudy-day
60°
Mostly Cloudy
H 70° L 55°
  • cloudy-day
    60°
    Current Conditions
    Mostly Cloudy. H 70° L 55°
  • cloudy-day
    56°
    Morning
    Mostly Cloudy. H 70° L 55°
  • cloudy-day
    75°
    Afternoon
    Partly Cloudy. H 77° L 58°
Listen
Pause
Error

The latest top stories

00:00 | 00:00

Listen
Pause
Error

The latest traffic report

00:00 | 00:00

Listen
Pause
Error

The latest forecast

00:00 | 00:00

2018 in Florida: mass shootings, hurricanes, election sagas

Florida in 2018 saw a horrific school shooting, a devastating hurricane that ravaged parts of the state's Panhandle region, and a contentious election that dragged on for weeks.

The shooting sent reverberations through the nation, in schools across the country and in the halls of power.

In February, 17 students and staff were gunned down at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. The entire world watched as the students who survived organized marches, gave rousing speeches and appeared in countless media interviews, all on the topic of gun control.

"If us students have learned anything, it's that if you don't study, you will fail," said Parkland student Emma Gonzalez during a rally in Fort Lauderdale just days after the shooting. "And in this case if you actively do nothing, people continually end up dead, so it's time to start doing something."

In November, Archbishop Desmond Tutu gave their student organization, March For Our Lives, the International Children's Peace Prize .

The shooting also changed state policy in ways that had been previously unthinkable in Florida's gun lobby-friendly Legislature. Three weeks after the attack, Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill that raised the minimum age to buy rifles from 18 to 21, extended a three-day waiting period for handgun purchases to include long guns and bans bump stocks, and created a so-called guardian program enabling some teachers and other school employees to carry guns.

Survivors had wanted a ban on assault-style weapons, like the ones the gunman used during the massacre. But the bill didn't go that far. Still, the National Rifle Association fought back with a lawsuit, saying the measure "punishes law-abiding gun owners for the criminal acts of a deranged individual."

The other devastating event in the state came in October, when Hurricane Michael slammed into the Florida Panhandle , killing at least 43 people. It all but wiped the small community of Mexico Beach off the map , and caused massive damage in Panama City and at Tyndall Air Force Base.

Michael was the strongest storm on record ever to hit the Panhandle, and it upended every aspect of life in the Panama City area, from schools to businesses to traffic and electricity. Many people still haven't recovered. Earlier this month, it was announced that one of Panama City's two hospitals would lay off 800 people because it was unable to reopen parts of the building due to storm damage, and the city's largest mall has closed, also due to damage sustained in the storm.

Another disaster also hit Florida's Gulf communities in 2018, but it was slow moving and spread up the coast over the summer. A massive, naturally occurring red tide bloom began in Naples and eventually drifted north. It killed hundreds of tons of fish, and communities along the coast scrambled to clear the normally pristine beaches from the stinking mess. The red tide also reached the state's Atlantic coast, which is unusual.

In addition to the red tide, some communities saw a spread of blue-green algae in freshwater. Heavy rains in the Spring caused Lake Okeechobee to discharge water containing the goo-like algae into rivers and canals. The bright green sludge oozed onto docks and into rivers and canals.

Both types of algae threatened to affect the state's tourism industry, which scrambled to reassure visitors that many parts of Florida were algae-free.

One of Florida's major stories centered around politics. Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum became the state's first black gubernatorial nominee when he won the Democratic primary in August. He faced former Congressman Ron DeSantis, a Republican. The U.S. Senate race was a bruiser, too, with Republican Gov. Rick Scott up against sitting Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson.

Contentious races for U.S. Senate and governor were too close to call on election night . That led to a recount, which dredged up memories of the much maligned 2000 presidential election. In the end, Scott was declared the winner in the Senate race and DeSantis the winner in the governor's race. Voters also approved two amendments of note: one allowing most felons who have served their sentences to vote (excluding sex offenders). Voters also banned greyhound racing.

Other top stories:

— In February, a Florida International University pedestrian bridge collapsed and killed six people . Two days before the collapse, an engineer with the bridge's design firm left a voicemail for state transportation officials to report cracking had been found at one end of the concrete span, but the company didn't think it was a safety issue. State officials didn't hear the voicemail until after the collapse . Federal authorities are still investigating.

— In October, prominent Democratic officials, CNN's Manhattan offices and others who have been critical of President Donald Trump were targeted with package bombs. The suspect, 56-year-old Cesar Sayoc, was from Miami-Dade County . He's in jail while awaiting trial and faces nearly 50 years in prison if convicted on five federal charges, which were filed in New York.

— In June, a popular young rapper was killed in Fort Lauderdale . Four men are accused of killing XXXTentacion (ex-ex-ex-ten-ta-see-YAWN). The 20-year-old rap star, whose real name was Jahseh Onfroy, was fatally shot multiple times as he left a motorcycle dealership.

Read More

The Latest News Headlines

  • Tilli Buchanan and her husband were sweaty and itchy after spending the day installing insulation in their Utah garage, so they stripped off their long-sleeved shirts to cool down, according to her attorneys. More than a year later -- though that timeline is in some dispute -- Buchanan, 27, of West Valley City, finds herself in court, fighting lewdness charges filed against her in February because her young stepchildren saw her topless. If convicted of the three Class A misdemeanor charges against her, Buchanan could serve jail time and be forced to register as a sex offender for the next decade, the Salt Lake Tribune reported. Her husband, who was also shirtless, has not been charged with a crime. “If we are to lose this, she’s on the sex registry with child rapists and things of that nature,” her attorney, Randy Richards, told reporters. “The magnitude of the penalty on this is enormous.” Buchanan, who is also being represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah, was in court for a hearing on Tuesday, at which time her attorneys argued that Utah’s lewdness act is unconstitutional because it treats men and women differently. “What’s important to look at, to see, when you look at the statute, is there’s part of it that says this part of a woman is found inherently obscene and this part of a man isn’t,” ACLU attorney Leah Farrell told reporters after the hearing. “And that really sets up an unequal, unfair dichotomy.” District Judge Kara Pettit declined to rule from the bench, saying “it’s too important of an issue” for an immediate judgment, the Deseret News reported. Pettit said she would hand down a decision sometime within the next two months. According to Utah’s law against lewdness involving a child, a person can be convicted if he or she exposes his or her genitals, buttocks, anus or pubic area, or the female breast “below the top of the areola,” in front of a child. The law applies if the person does this in public or “in a private place under circumstances the person should know will likely cause affront or alarm or with the intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of the actor or the child.” Farrell said that standard is unfair to women because they have to do “mental calculus” to determine if going topless will cause alarm, while that same burden is not placed on men, the News reported. West Valley Deputy City Attorney Corey Sherwin, who is prosecuting Buchanan’s case, told the newspaper that Utah laws do not target women, but said nudity is understood to not only include “lower parts of the body” but also the female breast. He said the lewdness statute applies only to those who intentionally expose themselves around children. In court paperwork obtained by the Tribune, Sherwin argued that Buchanan stripped down in front of the children, boys ages 13 and 9 and a 10-year-old girl, after stating that, if her husband could go shirtless, she should be able to, as well. The documents alleged Buchanan, who Sherwin claimed was “under the influence of alcohol,” later told her husband she would only put her shirt back on if he showed her his penis, the Tribune said. The incident took place in late 2017 or early 2018, according to prosecutors. Buchanan said, however, that it may have taken place as early as the fall of 2016. >> Read more trending news  The Tribune reported that authorities became involved earlier this year during a Division of Child and Family Services investigation that did not involve Buchanan. The incident came to light during that unrelated probe and the children’s mother called police, saying she was alarmed by what had happened in front of the kids. Buchanan’s recollection of the incident differs greatly from the claims made by prosecutors. She said that, when the children came downstairs to find her without a shirt, she used the moment as a teaching experience for her stepchildren. She said she pointed out to the children that they were not made uncomfortable by their father’s bare chest. “This isn’t a sexual thing,” she recalled telling the children, according to the Tribune. “I should be able to wear exactly what my husband wears. You shouldn’t be embarrassed about this.” Listen to Tilli Buchanan speak following her court hearing below, courtesy of KSL in Salt Lake City. Richards argued earlier this year that Buchanan should not face charges for being shirtless in her own home while her husband escapes punishment or condemnation for the same behavior. “The fact that this was in the privacy of one’s own home is real troubling,” Richards told the Tribune in September. “Different people have different moral positions as far as nudity.” Richards’ argument has been based largely on a February opinion by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit Court, which upheld a lower court ruling that a Fort Collins, Colorado, ordinance banning women from going topless violated their 14th Amendment guarantee of equal protection under the law. Fox13 in Salt Lake City reported in September that the court narrowed its ruling in the case, Free the Nipple Fort Collins v. City of Fort Collins, to address solely the Fort Collins ordinance. West Valley City prosecutors cited that narrow scope during arguments in Buchanan’s case, arguing that the “Free the Nipple” ruling is more narrow than the ACLU might like. Read the court ruling in full below. Free the Nipple v Fort Collins by National Content Desk on Scribd The ruling, which made headlines nationwide, is slowly making its mark on other Utah cases, however. FOX 13 reported that attorneys with clients facing lewdness charges have begun citing the appeals court ruling in their own arguments. Buchanan said she was devastated by the criminal charges filed against her. “The moment I took to teach the kids, it was kind of smashed,” she told the Tribune. “Like you can’t teach kids this. In fact, you’re going to be charged for even bringing this up.” After Tuesday’s hearing, Buchanan told reporters she is hopeful at least a portion of the state’s lewdness law will be struck down. “Especially given it was in the privacy of my own home, my husband was right next to me, in the exact same manner that I was, and he’s not being prosecuted for it,” Buchanan said.
  • A 63-year-old man accused of shooting and killing two teens on his West Dayton property was indicted Thursday on charges of murder and felonious assault, which comes after months of public outcry over a lack of an arrest and criminal prosecution in the killings. >> Read more trending news  Victor Santana, who owned the home at 848 Conner St., has been indicted by a Montgomery County grand jury for fatally shooting 17-year-old Dayton residents Devin Henderson and Javier Harrison. “The evidence in this case does not demonstrate a reasonable claim of self-defense,” Montgomery County Prosecutor Mat Heck Jr. said. Santana is in the Montgomery County Jail following his arrest on a warrant Thursday. Santana faces four counts of murder, five counts of felonious assault and one count of attempt to commit murder. Henderson, 17, of Dayton, died after being shot twice in the back in a garage at 848 Conners St., according to crime scene and autopsy photos and Montgomery County Coroner’s Office records. Harrison, also 17, was struck by gunfire in his back, arm and thigh, the records show. Prosecutors announced they will seek a high bond for Santana from the judge, because Santana has multiple residences in the U.S., including in New Mexico and California. In September, Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office spokesman Greg Flannagan said Dayton Police Department investigators met with a panel of assistant prosecuting attorneys and reviewed the evidence in the case. “It was agreed by everyone that additional investigation needs to be completed before a formal filing of charges,” Flannagan said at the time. “The investigators will notify us when the investigation is complete in order to set a date to present the filing.” Linda Henderson, Devin Henderson’s mother, said it was heartbreaking to learn her son and his friend were shot in the back. “That’s bad news for any parent to hear,” she said. “To me, it seems like they were just trying to get away.” Dayton police Chief Richard Biehl on multiple occasions has said a new state law shifts the burden of proof in self-defense cases from the defendant to the prosecutors, which could affect this case. “The burden is on the state to prove this was not self-defense — it’s a high standard,” Biehl said. At about 9:30 p.m. Aug. 28, a resident of the home at 848 Conners St. says he heard noises and voices outside and saw a light from a car in his garage, police said. The man, who authorities have not identified, encountered three individuals and fired multiple shots from a .38-caliber pistol, police said. Henderson and Harrison were shot and killed, and the third individual, 19-year-old Jashin Gibson, fled but then returned when police and fire crews arrived on scene, police said. Gibson was arrested for breaking and entering. Gibson was booked in the Montgomery County Jail on a probation violation related to a robbery conviction, but was no longer there Thursday. Police said the detached garage was unsecured and open. The garage is about 15 feet from the home. Henderson was struck by two bullets in the back, according to coroner records and photos. One struck the left side of his upper back, and the other struck the right side, around the shoulder blade. Crime scene photographs show Henderson’s body wedged between the far wall of the garage and a silver Lincoln Continental. Harrison was struck by a bullet in the mid-section of the left back. It exited his chest and was recovered from his clothing, the initial autopsy report states. He also was hit in the thigh and the left forearm, with the bullet exiting through his elbow. Harrison’s body was found in the grass outside the garage, with his feet by the entryway, according to crime scene photos. The shooter called 911 to report the incident. He put the pistol down on his front porch before emergency responders arrived. Attorney Michael Wright, who is representing Harrison’s family, said it’s “somewhat obvious” that the shooting was not in self-defense. “We believe that they probably shouldn’t have been in the garage; however, they shouldn’t have been killed for being in the garage,” he said. In August, Biehl said it was tragic that two teens lost their lives, and police were consulting with prosecutors about the case. Biehl said it will be up to prosecutors to determine if it was a justifiable case of self-defense or a criminal act. Under a new state law, prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person who uses deadly force did not do so in self-defense, defense of another or defense of the person’s residence. The burden used to be on the defendant to prove they acted in self-defense. Biehl said there was evidence of some drug activity taking place in the garage. Harrison’s father, Jimmy Harrison, previously said the boys sometimes went to the property to smoke marijuana. Henderson’s mother said the boys had gone to the property multiple times before. She said the shooter should have called the police when he heard noises outside or fire a warning shot. “I’m hearing this today that my son was shot twice in the back, and that little boy three times — that’s not right at all,” Linda Henderson said. “They didn’t have a chance.” She said she wants justice for her son, who was a twin, and for Harrison and his family.
  • Two people died Thursday morning in what officials called a 'mishap' involving two aircraft at Vance Air Force Base. >> Read more trending news  The mishap, which happened around 9:10 a.m. local time, involved two Air Force T-38 Talons, officials said. The aircraft were carrying two people each for a routine training mission when the incident occurred. Emergency response personnel responded to the scene shortly after the incident was reported, authorities said. Officials declined to immediately identify the people killed in the mishap, citing the need to notify next of kin. Gov. Kevin Stitt offered state support to Vance Air Force Base officials in a statement posted on Twitter after the incident. 'My thoughts and prayers are with the pilots' families and the team at Vance Air Force Base,' Stitt said. 'I have talked with the Wing Commander at Vance AFB to communicate the state will offer support in any possible way during this time.' Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma, said in a statement that he was 'deeply saddened' to learn of the incident at Vance Air Force Base. 'Our servicemen and women give everything, even their lives, to protect our nation,' Lankford said. 'I pray for God's grace and healing as their families walk through this and to all those they serve with as they try to understand the difficult loss of their friend and coworker. My office will continue to communicate with personnel at Vance and the Enid community to provide resources and assistance in the days ahead.' Authorities said a safety investigation team was investigating the incident. The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.
  • Nine months after authorities discovered a Texas toddler's remains in an acid-filled bucket, her parents have learned their sentence. >> Read more trending news  According to The Associated Press, a judge on Friday sentenced Monica Yvonne Dominguez, of Laredo, to 20 years in prison after she pleaded guilty to abusing a corpse, tampering with evidence and child endangerment. Her husband, Gerardo Zavala-Loredo, received a 14-year prison sentence after he pleaded guilty to an evidence-tampering charge. Dominguez said her daughter, Rebecka, drowned in the tub Feb. 14 while bathing with another child, according to prosecutors. Dominguez said the children were unsupervised at the time, authorities said. Prosecutors said Dominguez sought Zavala-Loredo's help to dispose of the girl's remains, which police found in a bucket inside a closet, the AP reported earlier this year. Dominguez, who also pleaded guilty to child injury charges in 2016, was sentenced in April to 10 years in prison for violating the terms of her probation, the Laredo Morning Times reported. The 20-year sentence will begin after she finishes serving her first sentence, according to the AP. Read more here. – The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • Two Georgia sisters who suffered serious injuries when they were struck by a car at their Forsyth County bus stop last week have been released from the hospital.  >> Read more trending news  The students, ages 6 and 9, were standing at the end of a driveway on Buford Highway about 7 a.m. Friday when a blue Toyota Camry passed their bus on the right, striking them and their stepfather, authorities said. The car’s driver, 19-year-old Christopher Ray Frachiseur, was arrested at the scene and charged with three felony counts of serious injury by vehicle, driving under the influence of drugs and a host of other traffic-related offenses. He was granted a $75,000 bond Saturday but cannot be released from the Forsyth County jail because he was already on probation for marijuana possession.  In an interview Wednesday, the girls’ mother told WSB-TV that her children have a long recovery ahead. “This is just a nightmare,” said the woman, who asked not to be identified. “Three people could have lost their lives. Thankfully they're OK, but can you imagine if something worse happened?” Both of the Haw Creek Elementary students must wear casts as their broken bones heal, Channel 2 reported.  “Right now, the oldest one — she doesn't remember anything. She remembers her sister, school, her mom, but she doesn't remember anything about an accident,” her mother said. “With the youngest one, I have to help her with everything. I have to take her to the restroom, her bed, to the shower. She depends completely on me right now.”  The girls’ stepfather, 43-year-old Jose Arturo Corejo-Nunez, remains hospitalized, the news station reported.  A GoFundMe page set up to help the family cover their expenses after the wreck raised more than $22,000 in four days. Speaking through a translator, the girls’ mother said every dollar helps as she’s forced to look after three injured people by herself. “I'm just in a really hard place right now,” she said. “I have a lot to do. I have to take care of my husband in the hospital while also taking care of the kids at the house.” 

The Latest News Videos