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    Local and state leaders are taking steps now to prepare for a possible coronavirus outbreak in Northeast Florida. Thursday local and state leaders gathered in Jacksonville to hold a round table discussing ideas on what steps they’re taking to stay prepared. JAXPORT says every vessel that comes into the port from China, the epicenter of the virus, have already been cleared by the Coast Guard and by Customs and Border Protection. They also say they’ve had no problems with any sick or dead crew members on any arriving vessels. For Sheriff Mike Williams, he said aside from protecting law enforcement and first responders, they’re monitoring their corrections environment and making sure its in a good place. He says they’re doing this by making sure employees are up to protocol and they have the equipment they need. “Its like pre-planning for a hurricane.” Sheriff Williams says. Williams also added he believes they can manage inmates who might be infected, without having the virus spread to the entire population. For JFRD, Chief Keith Powers says the department has been preparing for the virus since mid-January. He says the department already has a process in place to decontaminate ambulances if they’re used to transport anyone who might have the virus. Powers says the decontamination process takes about 30 to 40 minutes.     “Our top priority’s gotta keep being our first responders healthy because if our first responders get sick then we can’t take care of the public.” Powers says. In addition, Powers says they’re adding new questions for dispatchers to ask on calls that will help first responders prepare for what they see once on the call. If a coronavirus outbreak made its way to Jacksonville, Mayor Lenny Curry says the city will be ready.
  • UPDATE: A 12-year veteran of the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office is on administrative leave after being involved in a fatal shooting in Arlington.  According to JSO, they initially responded to a burglary to a home on Caribbean Court East at around 11:35 AM Thursday. Police say the homeowner had called to report that her ex-husband entered the house and had fired shots inside.  'The homeowner or the complainant was never in any danger at that point. She was outside the residence the entire time. The suspect threatened suicide and was acting erratically and remained inside the residence,' says T. K. Waters, JSO's Chief of Investigations.  At around 1:00 PM, JSO says SWAT officers responded and took over, while an arrest warrant for armed trespassing was obtained for the suspect along with a search warrant for the home. At this point, police say the suspect ran outside the house while waving a gun and then went back inside.  'A few moments later, the suspect came back outside the house, pointed his firearm toward the police officer and the officer fired one round, striking him,' says Waters.  The officer, identified as M.S. Clark, has been placed on administration leave, per JSO policy. JSO says this is his first officer-involved shooting.  JSO says the State Attorney's Office will conduct a concurring investigation into the fatal shooting. The officer was not wearing a body camera.  Police have not yet identified the suspect. ORIGINAL STORY: Jacksonville Police say they are on scene of an officer involved shooting at the same location where a SWAT standoff was at Thursday. Initially JSO said they were at a home on Caribbean Court just off Cesery Boulevard for an incident involving someone barricaded in a home. JSO says no officers were injured and the suspect has died. This is a developing story, check back for updates.
  • The Baker County Sheriff’s Office says a 69-year-old man has been arrested and charged after he was accused of fondling a 15-year-old girl. Deputies say the victim told them she requested a ride from the suspect, Ingo Krieg, from Jacksonville to her boyfriend’s house in Baker County. Deputies say the suspect met the victim previously when she requested an Uber ride and the two exchanged numbers. On Tuesday, deputies say Krieg picked up the 15-year-old again and began to grope her in an inappropriate area in his vehicle on the way to Macclenny. Deputies also say the victim claimed that Krieg offered sexual favors instead of money for the ride.  Deputies say when they questioned Krieg he admitted to molesting the victim while in Baker County. He has been charged with a second-degree felony of Lewd or Lascivious Molestation on a victim between 12-16 years old.
  • Due to the spread of coronavirus, one local school is changing its plans. The University of North Florida says they are canceling all spring and summer faculty-led study abroad trips to China because of the virus. WOKV also reached out to Jacksonville University and Flagler College to see if they had any big changes because of the virus. JU tells us they currently don’t have any students in any impacted areas and they are continuing to monitor the outbreak for any potential impacts to their summer programs. Flagler College says they don’t have any students in China this spring and there were no scheduled trips for the summer or next fall. The school says they did have a facility member who was supposed to participate in a faculty exchange program in China this spring, but that trip has been called off.  All schools tell us they are monitoring developments with the virus.
  • Florida Highway Patrol says two people died in a fiery crash on the southbound side of the Buckman Bridge Wednesday afternoon. Troopers say the two people who died were in a broken down Prius on the right side of the bridge when a man in a truck slammed in to the back of the Toyota causing both vehicles to catch fire. FHP says the man in the truck only had minor injuries. Charges are pending in the crash. The two people killed have not been identified yet.
  • It’s an update to a crash that tied up your drive for hours on the West Beltway Tuesday. Florida Highway Patrol says charges are pending in a deadly crash on the West Beltway and Duval Road. Troopers say Ashley Galan from Keystone Heights died in the crash that involved a car and a semi-truck. Troopers say Galan was behind the semi when the truck slowed down because of traffic in the area. FHP says Galan failed to slow down and hit the back of the of the semi.  The two people in the semi weren’t injured in the crash.
  • You might start to see gas prices drop when you fill up eventually after Monday’s sell off on Wall Street over coronavirus concerns. Patrick De Haan with Gas Buddy says the immediate future of gas prices remains unclear, but if the virus continues to spread, then that could lead to a lower demand in oil, which could lead to a drop in prices. “You look at China, flights have been canceled, tens of thousands of flights, transportation networks have been shut down and it means much less oil demand.” De Haan says. He says no matter what happens you can expect to pay more for gas by April and May but how much you’ll pay will depend on how severe coronavirus continues to spread globally. “By Memorial Day, with the onset of refinery maintenance that usually happens, and with the transition to summer gasoline, we eventually will be paying more at the pump.” De Haan says.
  • Monday, the Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources for Clay County Schools was appointed as the new superintendent for the district according to Governor Ron DeSantis. The governor says David Broskie has been the assistant superintendent since 2015 and has worked for the school district for 30 years. Broskie will take over for Addison Davis, who is taking over as the new Superintendent for Hillsborough County Schools in the Tampa area.  Broskie will become superintendent officially on March 2nd according to the governor.
  • The five-county coalition aimed at preventing veteran suicide will hold its first Clay County public meeting Monday night. We reported last November when the Fire Watch was formed. Commissioner Gavin Rollins says Monday’s meeting is open to the public and everyone is encouraged to attend.  “We’ve got to have county, city, private, public, veteran groups, non-veteran groups all of us pulling in the same direction.” Rollins says. He says tonight’s meeting is not only about awareness, but about discussions on different prevention programs including a veteran resource guide. As a veteran himself, this is a personal issue for Rollins.  “Everyone returns with scars, some seen and some unseen.” Rollins says. If you’d like to the meeting starts at 6PM in Green Cove Springs at 477 Houston Street.
  • He claimed to have a gun, but a weapon was not seen on Thursday when a man robbed the Fifth-Third Bank on San Jose and Loretto Road.  The suspect entered the bank during the early afternoon and handed the teller a note demanding money. The note indicated he had a gun.  The suspect fled the bank in a gray or silver Nissan Versa or Sentra that went north on San Jose Boulevard. The suspect, who stands around 6’, wore a black shirt and khaki pants. New this afternoon, JSO says investigators are looking into the possibility that another bank robbery earlier this month in St. Johns County could be connected to Thursday’s robbery. Back on February 10th, St. Johns deputies said a man went to a bank and passed a note to the teller implying that he was armed and demanded money. No one was injured in either robbery.
  • Steven Ponson

    Reporter

    Steven Ponson is the morning reporter for Jacksonville’s Morning News. He has been with Cox Media Group since the summer of 2015, and been living in Florida for over 20 years. Steven is an alumni of the University of Central Florida where he received his Bachelor’s degree in Radio and Television and a minor in Sociology. It’s a dream come for him to work in the radio business and has a family legacy in Florida radio. When he is away from WOKV, he likes to spend time with family and friends and is an avid football and hockey fan.

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The Latest News Headlines

  • A woman was killed while trying to help with a crash involving two horses in the Callahan area.   It happened just before 7 pm Thursday on U.S. 301.  Florida Highway Patrol says two horses that were in the road were hit and killed by an SUV.  A woman, later identified as Melissa Nault, stopped to help. Another car hit one of the horses, then the woman, killing her.   FHP says charges are pending additional investigation.
  • You'll need jackets and coats this morning and maybe even through the afternoon, despite a lot of sun we're going to be crisp and cool. Action News Jax Chief Meteorologist Mike Buresh says we only get into the low 60's after a cold morning. And it’s still breezy.  “Chilly night tonight so sweaters and jackets as we drop into the upper 30’s in most spots, but staying above freezing”, said Buresh.  It will be a breezy, cool Saturday for World of Nations, the Scottish Games and Monster Jam. Afternoon temperatures will be in the low 60’s, and temperatures fall into the 30’s at night. Sunday starts cold with an inland frost or freeze early but a warmer afternoon with temperatures in the upper 60’s. Monday will be in the mid-70’s, and even warmer for Tuesday and Wednesday. 
  • A local family is hoping somebody saw something after their son was killed in a hit-and-run crash. Investigators said they found Lynard Green, 34, lying on the side of Soutel Drive near New Kings Road Saturday night just before 10. They performed CPR on him and rushed him to the hospital but he later died.  “He had a big heart, a very big heart,” said Michelle Johnson, victim’s mother.  A memorial now marks the spot where Green was hit. His mom said he knew the area well.  “Lynard is a walking soul, he’s always walking, that’s just him,” she said.  According to a report, there’s no witnesses or description of the car. Johnson is hoping the person will come forward.  “And for someone to just leave him there, that’s the part, just to leave him there, disregard, because he was somebody, he is somebody,” she said.  Funeral services will be March 7 at 11 a.m. at Mt. Zion Church.
  • A Florida woman and her grown son were indicted Wednesday in the killings of her husband and sister that took place 25 years ago in New Jersey, according to authorities. Dolores Mejia Connors Morgan, 66, and Ted Connors, 47, both of Del Ray Beach, are each charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the 1994 slaying of Ana F. Mejia, 24, and the 1995 killing of 51-year-old Nicholas William Connors, Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni said in a news release. Both killings took place in the victims’ homes in Long Branch, a beachside city about an hour east of Trenton. A third person, Jose Carrero, 48, of Jackson Township, New Jersey, was also charged with murder in both homicides, Gramiccioni said. Carrero, who, like Morgan and Ted Connors, was arrested Jan. 10, pleaded guilty Friday to two counts of second-degree conspiracy to commit murder in a plea deal with prosecutors. Media reports at the time of the killings indicated that Mejia considered her sister and brother-in-law her parents. An obituary that ran in the Asbury Park Press under the name Ana Mejia-Jimenez listed them as her mother and father, and Ted Connors as her brother. Mejia was found dead Dec. 8, 1994, in the bedroom of the apartment she shared with her boyfriend and her two young children, Gramiccioni said. “Mejia was stabbed multiple times and had a white powdery substance rubbed on her face when she was found. Her children were found safe within the residence,” the prosecutor said in a news release. Investigators initially believed it was cocaine that had been smeared on Mejia’s face, including inside her nose. According to NJ.com, however, the white powder found around Mejia’s nose and mouth was determined to be baby formula. Mejia had been stabbed 23 times and news reports at the time indicated her body was mutilated. “Six months later, on May 14, 1995, Long Branch police officers were dispatched to the Van Dyke Place home of Nicholas Connors, 51,” the news release said. “There, authorities found Nicholas Connors on a sofa, deceased after multiple gunshot wounds to the head.” Morgan, then 42, was the person who found him dead, NJ.com said. Two of the couple’s children, ages 13 and 12, were home but slept through the shooting. “By habit, he would wait for her to come home before going to bed,” then-Monmouth County Prosecutor John Kaye told the Asbury Park Press in 1995. “She found him on the couch, and there was blood all about.” Gramiccioni said last week that Carrero admitted conspiring with Morgan and Ted Connors “to kill Mejia in retaliation for what they believed were her actions to tip off law enforcement officers about the illegal activities of her boyfriend.” An Asbury Park Press article published in 1994 indicated that Mejia was slain a week after her boyfriend was arrested on drug charges. NJ.com reported Carrero said in court that Morgan feared her sister, who was allegedly working as a confidential police informant, would also tip detectives off about her illegal activities. She determined Mejia had to die, he indicated. Carrero told the court that he met with Morgan, who said she would pay him to help with the killing, and Ted Connors in the kitchen of the Connors home in 1994 to plan the hit on Mejia. He said he and Ted Connors planned to go to a party together the night of the crime to establish an alibi, NJ.com reported. He said he and Ted Connors left the party and parked down the street from Mejia’s house so no one would see Connors’ vehicle, the news site reported. They went to the house and Mejia opened the door for him and her nephew before returning to her bedroom. Carrero said he covered Mejia’s face with a pillow while Ted Connors stabbed her because he “didn’t want to see her” as she died, NJ.com said. After the murder, the pair returned to the party to maintain their alibi, Carrero said. “Carrero also admitted to conspiring with Ted Connors and Connors’ mother, Delores Morgan (then known as Delores Connors) to kill Nicholas Connors. Nicholas Connors was the adopted father of Ted and then-husband of Delores,” Gramiccioni said last week. Nicholas Connors “was killed in a successful effort to collect on a life insurance policy,” Gramiccioni’s news release indicated. NJ.com reported that Carrero said in court that he, Morgan and Ted Connors again sat at the kitchen table of the family’s home to plot out the husband and father’s killing. He said Ted Connors obtained a gun and Morgan went to work that night so she would not be home when her husband was slain. Carrero said he and Ted Connors again parked down the street from the house before walking to a side door and slicing the screen to make it look like a break-in. When they went inside, Carrero said he could hear a television in the next room. He said he remained in the kitchen while Ted Connors went in and shot his father, the news site reported. When he heard a second shot, he fled and ran to the car, with Ted Connors a couple of steps behind him, NJ.com said. News reports at the time indicated investigators almost immediately suspected the killings of Mejia and Nicholas Connors were related. Carrero said he was never paid outright for the crimes but Morgan loaned him cash at one point and he didn’t pay it back. He also lived at the family’s house for a while, rent-free, until Morgan kicked him out, the news site reported. As part of his plea deal, Carrero has agreed to testify against both of his codefendants. Gramiccioni said in exchange for his testimony, prosecutors would recommend consecutive sentences of five to 10 years in state prison for each of the two charges to which he pleaded guilty. The prosecutor said investigations into the Mejia and Nicholas Connors killings were launched back in 1994 and 1995 but the cases went cold. “Additional evidence recently uncovered by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Cold Case Unit and Long Branch Police Department resulted in charges being signed against the three defendants on Jan. 10, 2020,” Gramiccioni said. NJ.com reported last month that proof of the insurance payout Morgan received following her husband’s killing was part of the new evidence. An affidavit obtained by the site did not give the amount of the insurance payment she received. Cold case detectives also found that both the men accused in the crimes had confessed their alleged involvement to multiple friends. “The information given to (the friends) by Ted Connors and Jose Carrero is supported and proven to be true based on additional information discovered and confirmed in the current review of the file and additional investigation conducted over the last two years,” the affidavit read, according to NJ.com. The investigators also recently uncovered a transcript of a recorded conversation Ted Connors had with a friend about the crimes in 1995. Police re-interviewed one of the witnesses and obtained a new statement from him a couple of months ago, the affidavit said. Carrero’s sentencing was scheduled for June 5, but prosecutors told NJ.com it would not take place until he had testified against Morgan and Ted Connors. Both mother and son remain jailed without bond in the Monmouth County Correctional Institution.
  • A local man linked to the death of a woman has been sentenced for another crime. Action News Jax has been digging into Corey Binderim’s since he was named a person of interest in Susan Mauldin’s disappearance in November.  Corey Binderim pleaded guilty to uttering charges, a third-degree felony, for a counterfeit check.  Binderim was told he needed to pay Vystar Credit Union $5,000 in restitution.  Action News Jax has been following this story for months.  In October, 65-year-old Susan Mauldin disappeared from her home in Clay County Binderim had been hired to do some work for her at her house, but when he didn’t complete the job she asked for her money back.  Binderim was charged with her murder after her remains were found earlier this month by the FBI in a Georgia landfill after sifting through 7,000 tons of trash.  Judge Adrian Soud sentenced Binderim to 86 days in jail in Duval County on uttering charges.  He was given credit for that much time served already.  Now he’s waiting to be moved to Clay County to face more serious charges.  “You will be transported from the Duval County jail to the sheriff’s office in custody in Clay County to answer for the charges in Clay County. You will be held in the Clay County jail until further order of the court in clay county, do you understand that?” Judge Adrian Soud said.  We’ve reached out to the Clay County Sheriff’s Office and the state attorney’s office to find out when Binderim is expected to leave Duval County.

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