Firefighters have rescued two men in wheelchairs from an apartment fire in Fort Lauderdale, but one of them had to be transported to the hospital for smoke inhalation.
Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue crews responded to the scene along Northeast 18th Avenue, at around 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, after receiving a call about the fire ripping through the complex.
The two wheelchair-bound men were rescued from different apartments, but crews had to transport one of them to get checked out.
“Where the fire originated is the victim we located and transported,” said Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Michael Hicks.
About 26 firefighters helped the families who live in the apartment community.
The fire started in a home on the first floor. Raymond Freeman lives on the second floor, and he knew better than to ignore the alarm going off in the building.
“At first I went back to sleep. Then I’m like, ‘No, you better get up,'” he said. “I got up and saw smoke over here, smoke over there.”
Footage from 7SkyForce showed firefighters helping out the families.
Ray Bennett hopes he can go home soon.
“There was a fire next door,” he said.
Bennett was the second man rescued.
“They dragged me through the house,” Bennett said.
Firefighters are still investigating what caused the fire.
The Red Cross is expected to help 10 people who were displaced by the fire.
U.S. Coast Guard members have repatriated 23 Cuban migrants after three different sightings at sea.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers reported the first group near Key Largo last Wednesday.
A Coast Guard plane spotted another 15-foot vessel southeast of Marathon, Friday.
A third boat was spotted by a good Samaritan 70 miles south of Key West.
South Florida’s politicians, residents and law enforcement are sharing their reaction on the conviction of Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis Police officer, for the murder of George Floyd last year.
Chauvin was found guilty on all three counts against him Tuesday afternoon, and U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., said she believes the jury got the verdict right.
“I was totally relieved, relieved because it was so clear to me that he was guilty, and it was so clear to me that it was murder, murder, murder,” she said.
City of Miami Police Chief Art Acevedo also believed the jury handed down the correct verdict.
“I think justice has been served,” he said. “What it does is it shows that police officers are getting held accountable. That when police officers don’t do the right thing, they are held accountable. That does hopefully reduce tensions, but it also serves as a reminder that we still have work to do.”
Acevedo said his department remains on high alert following the verdict, but he supports citizens’ First Amendment right to protest.
Moments after the verdict, Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony said in a statement, “Chauvin’s conviction is a reminder to all who wear a badge that we are not above the laws which we swore to protect.”
Chauvin was convicted on charges of second and third-degree murder along with a second-degree manslaughter charge.
Several Miami residents said they were relieved once the verdict was read aloud in court.
“I’m relieved because it’s just another step closer to the overall justice we’ve been looking for,” Miami resident Keith Finnie Jr. said. “The war isn’t over yet. We’re still fighting the good fight.”
“It shows that justice can be done,” Miami resident Keith Finnie said. “You’ve got some good cops, and you’ve got bad cops, and I’m just happy that he got what he deserved because he sat on that man’s neck for nine minutes.”
“He was guilty, so justice served,” Miami resident Gunesh Sayin said.
“It’s about time, about time,” Miami resident Michal Callaway said. “I thought he would get away with it, but I’m glad he didn’t, honestly.”
Miami resident Shauntina Murphy was among some of those who did not think Chauvin would be convicted for Floyd’s death.
“That’s how I thought it was going to go with this one,” Murphy said. “I thought he wasn’t going to be guilty, and it was just going to be another officer that got away with murder on a Black citizen.”
For local activist LaToya Ratlieff, the guilty verdict had a personal impact on her. She was injured during a protest last May when a Fort Lauderdale Police officer shot her in the eye with a rubber bullet.
Nearly a year later, she said the verdict has left her feeling relieved and inspired, though she was not sure it would come.
“It feels surreal,” she said. “This is a very sensitive subject for me because being at the George Floyd protest and what happened in Fort Lauderdale has shaped my life and changed the direction and focus of my life forever, and I’m so proud of everyone that didn’t give up, because it’s very easy for these situations to die down and people move on to something else.”
While people wait for Chauvin’s sentencing, some South Floridians said the verdict is a step in the right direction, but more work needs to be done.
“Even though we have other things to move onto, because we have Duante Wright and Adam Toledo, the most recent victims of police violence,” Ratlieff said. “We still stay focused and still continue to push this issue, and now, we’re ready to hear guilty verdicts for the other remaining officers.”
A Republican-sponsored bill to ban transgender athletes in Florida from playing girls’ and women’s scholastic sports appears to be dead.
The House passed the controversial measure last week, but Senate lawmakers couldn’t agree on a way to advance their version — which was less restrictive than the House version — regarding ways an athlete could prove her genetic birth was, in fact, female.
Tuesday was the last day of Senate committee meetings in Florida’s 60-day legislative session.
(CNN) — The nearly two-decade relationship late basketball player Kobe Bryant and Nike has ended.
Bryant was “an important part of Nike’s deep connection to consumers,” Nike said in a statement.
“Though our contractual relationship has ended, he remains a deeply loved member of the Nike family,” the company added.
Bryant, along with eight other people, including his 13-year-old daughter, died last year in a helicopter crash in California. He was 41 years old.
Nike signed Bryant in 2003, which led to one of the most successful sponsorships in history. He was one of an elite group of NBA players who signed with the brand that year, including LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony. That helped the shoe company solidify its position in the basketball world for the next couple decades following Michael Jordan’s 2003 retirement.
As Bryant’s success on the court grew, so too did his Nike partnership. The brand produced multiple lines of Kobe shoes and gear.
Shortly after Bryant’s death, Nike quickly sold out of his clothing and sneakers. It also released a touching commercial celebrating the NBA great.
But Bryant’s estate had “grown frustrated with Nike limiting the availability of Kobe products during his retirement” and after his death, ESPN reported Monday. They added that there was also “frustration with the lack of availability of Kobe footwear in kids’ size.”
(CNN) — Apple unveiled a slew of new products at its annual Spring launch on Tuesday, but waited until after the event to announce big changes coming to software for iPhones and iPads “next week.”
The company said in a press release that it will roll out its much-anticipated iOS 14.5 software but didn’t specify which day. It’ll feature the the ability to unlock your device without taking off a mask when using an Apple Watch, a major data privacy change and new emoji, including a less graphic syringe amid the global Covid-19 vaccine rollout. It’ll also include support for its new AirTag Bluetooth trackers.
As expected, Apple is introducing a new requirement for users to give explicit permission for apps to track them across the internet, a move that has roiled Facebook, which relies on data collection to target ads.
The company said the requirement could harm its ad revenue, but has framed its objections around potential harm to small businesses. In December, Facebook took out ads in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post, saying the requirement could be “devastating” to millions of small businesses that advertise on its platform. It also held a press event to trot out small businesses opposed to the change and debuted a new hashtag to discuss it.
In addition, iPhone users will soon be able to unlock their smartphones without needing to remove their face masks, but first they’ll need an Apple Watch. Face ID typically recognizes when someone is wearing a mask and triggers the passcode entry screen to appear.
Now, an iPhone will be able to communicate with a synced Apple Watch when the phone is raised to use Face ID. The devices must be in close proximity, and when authentication is completed the iPhone will automatically unlock and the Apple Watch will vibrate. Apple quietly tested this feature in February.
And it wouldn’t be a significant software update without the inclusion of more emoji. Among the new additions: a heart on fire, a face with swirly eyes, the ability for both women and men to have beards, and a syringe without drops of blood.
iOS 14.5 will also allow users to report traffic accidents directly within Apple Maps, a crowdsourcing tool similar to Google’s popular Waze app. Users will also be able to select from additional voice options for Siri, which will no longer default to a female voice.
The company also announced on Tuesday a new iPad Pro, AirTag, a revamped Apple TV, a purple iPhone and more.
MONTERREY, Mexico (AP) — They travel thousands of miles by plane from Latin America to the U.S., in some places taking a shuttle directly from the airport to COVID-19 vaccine sites. Their ranks include politicians, TV personalities, business executives and a soccer team.
People of means from Latin America are chartering planes, booking commercial flights, buying bus tickets and renting cars to get the vaccine in the United States due to lack of supply at home.
Virginia Gónzalez and her husband flew from Mexico to Texas and then boarded a bus to a vaccination site. They made the trip again for a second dose. The couple from Monterrey, Mexico, acted on the advice of the doctor treating the husband for prostate cancer. In all, they logged 1,400 miles (2,200 kilometers) for two round trips.
“It’s a matter of survival,” Gónzalez said of getting a COVID-19 vaccine in the United States. “In Mexico, officials didn’t buy enough vaccines. It’s like they don’t care about their citizens.”
With a population of nearly 130 million people, Mexico has secured more vaccines than many Latin American nations — about 18 million doses as of Monday from the U.S., China, Russia and India. Most of those have been given to health care workers, people over 60 and some teachers, who so far are the only ones eligible. Most other Latin American countries, except for Chile, are in the same situation or worse.
So vaccine seekers who can afford to travel are coming to the United States to avoid the long wait, including people from as far as Paraguay. Those who make the trip must obtain a tourist visa and have enough money to pay for required coronavirus tests, plane tickets, hotel rooms, rental cars and other expenses.
In Mexico, business is booming for chartered flights to Texas.
Gónzalez and her husband were inoculated in Edinburg, Texas, a city about 160 miles (254 kilometers) from their home. But with land entry points closed to nonessential travel, the couple decided to take a commercial flight to Houston and then travel by bus.
Earlier this month, 19 players with Monterrey’s professional soccer team known as Rayados flew to Dallas to get the vaccine, local media reported. In Peru, Hernando De Soto, an economist running for president, faced a backlash after he admitted he traveled to the U.S. to get vaccinated.
Television personalities have posted on social media about their trips, attracting the scorn of many viewers who accused them of flaunting their privilege. Juan José Origel, a Mexican television host, tweeted a photo of himself receiving the shot in January in Miami. Argentinian TV personality Yanina Latorre also traveled to Miami for her elderly mother to receive a vaccine and posted a video to Instagram. Shortly after, Florida officials began requiring proof of residency for those seeking a vaccine.
But about half of U.S. states, including Texas, Arizona, and California, have no such requirement and will accept any official form of identification with a photograph.
Many of those traveling have friends or relatives who live in the U.S. and can help them navigate the appointments system or seek a leftover shot. Some have second homes in the U.S., but others borrow a U.S. address. Some said they have read that many Americans do not plan to get vaccinated.
Alejandra, a dentist who also lives in Monterrey, said she decided to seek a vaccine in the U.S. shortly after losing her mother to COVID-19 in February. She registered online at a CVS pharmacy in Texas by using the address of a friend who lives there.
This past weekend, she flew to Houston and on Monday drove to receive her second Moderna shot in Pasadena, Texas. She asked that her full name not be published because she is afraid of retribution after seeing reports that those who traveled to get vaccines in the U.S. could lose their visas.
Alejandra said she felt a sense of calm after receiving the booster shot and thought of her mom.
“What would have been if only my mom had had the opportunity to get the vaccine in the U.S.,” she said.
She knows there is criticism that foreigners like her are taking advantage of American taxpayers by getting inoculated in the United States, but she said she is trying to protect herself and her family.
“The pharmacies are saying that it doesn’t matter if you don’t have documents … and they are saying it because they are seeking the common good of society,” she said.
The U.S. government is paying for the vaccines and for the cost of giving the shots to anyone who does not have insurance.
Chris Van Deusen, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Health Services, said the vaccine in Texas is “intended for people who live in, work in or spend a significant amount of time in Texas,” and that more than 99% of people vaccinated were state residents.
Wealthy countries around the globe have been able to acquire the largest vaccine supplies, including the U.S., which has been criticized for not doing more to help poorer countries.
Inequality fuels vaccine tourism, said Ernesto Ortiz, senior manager of programs at Duke University’s Global Health Innovation Center, in North Carolina, which keeps track of distribution of coronavirus vaccines worldwide. In Peru, for instance, only 2% of the country’s 32 million people have received a dose.
“I don’t blame them at all, they are desperate,” the Peruvian-American scientist said in an email.
Geovanny Vazquez said he and a friend plan to take a commercial flight on May 3 from Guatemala City to Dallas, where another friend offered to help them find a coronavirus shot.
They were seeking the immunization to feel safe while working in their home country, where they manage apartment buildings that they rent out to visitors, Vazquez said.
He said he can spend up to 20 days in the United States to try to get a shot. If he cannot get inoculated in Texas, he plans travel to other states such as Louisiana or Arizona.
If he were to get infected with COVID-19, Vazquez is confident that he would recover. “But I also work with people, and that is the main reason why I would like to seek the chance” to get the vaccine in the U.S., he said.
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden will pledge to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions at least in half by 2030 as he convenes a virtual climate summit with 40 world leaders, according to three people with knowledge of the White House plans.
The 50% target would nearly double the nation’s previous commitment and help the Biden administration prod other countries for ambitious emissions cuts as well. The proposal would require dramatic changes in the power and transportation sectors, including significant increases in renewable energy such as wind and solar power and steep cuts in emissions from fossil fuels such as coal and oil.
The nonbinding but symbolically important pledge is a key element of the two-day summit, which begins Thursday as world leaders gather online to share strategies to combat climate change.
The emissions target has been eagerly awaited by all sides of the climate debate. It will signal how aggressively Biden wants to move on global warming, a divisive and expensive issue that has riled Republicans to complain about job-killing government overreach even as some on the left worry Biden has not gone far enough to address a profound threat to the planet.
The three people who know about the White House plans spoke on condition of anonymity on Tuesday because they were not authorized to discuss the pledge ahead of Biden’s announcement.
Biden has sought to ensure that the 2030 goal, known as a Nationally Determined Contribution, or NDC, is aggressive enough to have a tangible impact on climate change efforts — not only in the U.S. but throughout the world — while also being achievable under a closely divided Congress.
The climate target is a key requirement of the 2015 Paris climate agreement, which Biden rejoined on his first day in office. It’s also an important marker as Biden moves toward his ultimate goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Scientists, environmental groups and even business leaders had called on Biden to set a target that would cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% below 2005 levels by 2030.
“Wow. That’s ambition with a capital A,” Georgia Tech climate scientist Kim Cobb said Tuesday after learning of Biden’s plans. “That target would put us roughly in line with the most ambitious emissions reductions targets” projected by scientists and environmentalists.
Cobb, like other experts, said details of Biden’s strategy will be crucial, “because those details will likely determine whether this ambitious new goal can be translated into policy. The clock is ticking fast, environmentally and politically.”
Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Michael Mann said the 50% goal “is precisely what is needed … an actionable goal within the next decade that puts us on the path toward limiting warming below a catastrophic 1.5 degrees Celsius” globally.
The climate summit that Biden is hosting is among his first international actions since the United States officially returned to the Paris accord. The U.S. withdrawal from the global pact under former President Donald Trump was part of Trump’s effort to step away from global allegiances in general and his oft-stated but false view that global warming was a hoax or at least an overstated claim by the world’s scientists.
Biden, by contrast, has made action on climate change a centerpiece of his presidency. He has also paused new oil and gas drilling on federal lands and proposed a $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan that would remake the U.S. power grid and add 500,000 charging stations for electric vehicles, among other actions intended to sharply cut fossil fuel pollution that contributes to global warming.
The summit is “the starting gun for climate diplomacy” after a four-year “hiatus” under Trump, said Larsen, now a director at the Rhodium Group, an independent research firm.
Former Secretary of State John Kerry, Biden’s top climate envoy, has been pressing global leaders, including his counterpart in China, for commitments and alliances on climate efforts.
Sen. Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat who reintroduced the Green New Deal on Tuesday with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., said the 50% target was appropriate to meet the scope and scale of the climate crisis.
“The United States must be an undeniable global leader in climate action,” Markey said Tuesday. “We cannot preach temperance from a barstool and not pay our fair share when approximately 40% of all the excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is red, white and blue.”
A 50% reduction by 2030 is “technically feasible and well within our reach,” Markey added. “We can and should fight to pass legislation and deploy funding that will allow us to exceed that target.”
Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., the top Republican on the Senate Energy Committee, said Biden’s pledge would set “punishing targets” for the U.S. even as adversaries such as China and Russia “continue to increase emissions at will. The last thing the economy needs is higher energy prices and fewer jobs, but that’s exactly what we’re going to get.”
Like other nations, the U.S. goal includes methane and some hydrofluorocarbon gases that trap more heat but don’t last as long as carbon dioxide.
The 50% pledge was first reported by The Washington Post.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Alabama’s largest city will issue blanket pardons for more than 15,000 people with misdemeanor marijuana convictions dating back to 1990, Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin said Tuesday.
The pardons, linked to city court cases, are automatic, Woodfin said in an announcement made on April 20, a day that many associate with marijuana use.
Many people have a hard time finding work because of drug convictions, and Woodfin said the move would allow them to rejoin the workforce and provide for their families.
“Here’s why we’re doing this – no one should be held up by a single past mistake. No one should be denied job opportunities or freedoms due to missteps from the past,” he said in a statement.
The pardons will eliminate convictions for marijuana possession from criminal records from 1990 through 2020 but do not affect pending cases, said a news release. A pardon also does not cancel fines, fees or other costs linked to a marijuana conviction.
The announcement by Woodfin, a Democrat, came as the Alabama Democratic Party said it would support the legalization of marijuana for recreational and medical use in the state.
Legislative committees have approved a Republican-backed bill allowing marijuana for medical uses, putting the measure in line for a key vote in the Alabama House.
Rep. Chris England, the chair of the state Democratic Party, said thousands of people have been “trapped” in the state’s criminal justice system because of laws against marijuana.
“Reforming policy surrounding cannabis not only serves our state in producing hundreds of millions of dollars in revenues, but is an important step in reducing arrests and expunging records. Nobody should be sitting in jail for carrying a little bit of weed,” he said in a statement.
A mother ordered a new book to teach her children a lesson only to find a hurtful and menacing message scrawled inside.
The hateful message impacted not only the mother and her daughter, but the author of the children’s book, as well.
“I was appalled, I was absolutely appalled,” said author Bri Coleman.
“When I opened the book my heart immediately dropped,” said Ashley Lashaye. “It just makes me sad, you know, to know that in 2021 people are still experiencing this.”
When Ashley opened the book she ordered on Amazon for her daughter, she was shocked to find a racist message handwritten inside.
The message read “for [n-word], by [n-word].”
“I just went in my room and started crying,” she said.
The Miami native, who now lives in Daytona Beach, was hoping the children’s book “Through My Eyes” would be a delicate way to open the racial injustice discussion with her daughter.
But the disturbing message changed that.
“I haven’t even opened it to even read it because it kind of traumatized me,” Lashaye said.
Coleman wrote the book as a tool and encourages parents to open discussions with their children.
“Our children have witnessed so much, and they don’t really understand what’s going on,” Coleman said.
The hateful display comes as Black and Brown children are witnessing racial tensions and calls for police reform on a daily basis.
Protesters are demanding justice for George Floyd, Daunte Wright and countless others.
“Don’t shy away from these conversations. It can definitely be rough to have, but it is our reality and our children have questions, and they have a right to get answers,” Coleman said.
Both Ashley and Bri contacted Amazon and said they were told an investigation would be launched.
Ashley was refunded for her purchase, but she hopes more will come from the ordeal.
“I pray they heal that hatred in their heart,” Lashaye said.
Amazon has not responded to 7News’ request for comment.
A man and a woman were robbed while they were walking in Southwest Miami-Dade.
Police said a man and woman were robbed while walking near Southwest 245th Street and 112th Avenue, Tuesday morning.
The victims said they were attacked by a couple who drove by them, pulled over, got out of the car, beat them up and ran off with a wallet.
Authorities said the male victim tried to grab onto the getaway car in an attempt to get the wallet back, but he was dragged down the road.
Rescue crews transported him to Jackson Memorial Hospital in unknown condition.
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The jury reached a verdict Tuesday at the murder trial of former Officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd, the Black man who was pinned to the pavement with a knee on his neck in a case that set off a furious reexamination of racism and policing in the U.S.
The verdict, arrived at after about 10 hours of deliberations over two days, was to be read late in the afternoon in a city on edge against the possibility of more unrest like that that erupted last spring.
The courthouse was ringed with concrete barriers and razor wire, and thousands of National Guard troops and law enforcement officers were brought in ahead of the verdict. Some businesses boarded up with plywood.
Floyd died last May after Chauvin, a 45-year-old now-fired white officer, pinned his knee on or close to the 46-year-old Black man’s neck for about 9 1/2 minutes as Floyd gasped that he couldn’t breathe and onlookers yelled at Chauvin to get off.
The jury, made up of six white people and six Black or multiracial people, weighed charges of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, with convictions on some, none or all of the charges possible. The most serious charge carries up to 40 years in prison.
The city has been on edge in recent days — not just over the Chauvin case but over the deadly police shooting of a 20-year-old Black man, Daunte Wright, in the nearby Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center on April 11.
Earlier in the day Tuesday, President Joe Biden weighed in by saying he believes the case is “overwhelming.”
He said that he had spoken to Floyd’s family on Monday and “can only imagine the pressure and anxiety they’re feeling.”
“They’re a good family and they’re calling for peace and tranquility no matter what that verdict is,” Biden said. “I’m praying the verdict is the right verdict. I think it’s overwhelming, in my view. I wouldn’t say that unless the jury was sequestered now.”
The president has repeatedly denounced Floyd’s death but previously stopped short of commenting on the trial itself.
Other politicians and ordinary citizens also offered their opinion as the jury was deliberating.
“It shouldn’t be really even questioned whether there will be an acquittal or a verdict that doesn’t meet the scale of the crime that was committed,” Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Democrat, said in Brooklyn Center. The congresswoman said the Chauvin case looks open-and-shut.
Guilty verdicts could mark a turning point in the fight for racial equality, she said.
“We are holding on to one another for support. Hopefully this verdict will come soon and the community will start the process of healing,” Omar said.
Please check back on WSVN.com and 7News for more details on this developing story.
BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. (AP) — A woman was found fatally shot inside a car parked in a Florida hotel parking lot early Tuesday, police said.
Officers found a 2-year-old child sleeping inside the vehicle that was parked outside a Hampton Inn after 1:30 a.m., Boynton Beach police said in a news release. The suspected gunman fatally shot himself as officers attempted to make a traffic stop on Interstate 95, the release said.
The child was not harmed and has been placed with family members, police said.
Witnesses provided investigators with a detailed description of the suspect. Officers located the vehicle and attempted a traffic stop. They found the 39-year-old dead inside the vehicle, the release said.
Authorities have not released the names of the woman or the child. However, officers identified the suspect as Narcisse Antoine.
Officers did not say the nature of the relationship between Antoine, the woman or the child.
Police are searching for a pair of crooks behind a rough robbery in Miami.
The Miami-Dade Police Department released surveillance video of the incident outside the Rodeway Inn near Northwest Second Avenue and 167th Street on Feb. 1.
Just after midnight, a guest at the hotel was waiting outside for his rideshare when he was assaulted.
His attacker grabbed him and pistol-whipped him, leaving him nearly unconscious.
A short time later, the victim could be seen on the video getting hit in the face again as a second suspect joined in on the attack.
The two crooks then went through the victim’s pockets and fled the scene.
If you have any information on the identities of the two attackers, call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a $1,000 reward.
A teenager who, police said, is behind a crash in West Miami-Dade that claimed the lives of four victims faced a judge on Tuesday morning.
Sixteen-year-old Alex Garcia appeared in court and was joined by family members of the victims involved in the New Year’s Day crash.
Garcia faces nine felony counts after a judge on Monday determined he will be charged as an adult.
“I’m being informed by the state that the state has made the decision to file these charges in adult court,” said Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Orlando Prescott. “You’ll be transferred from the Miami-Dade Regional Juvenile Detention Center to the Dade County Jail.”
According to Florida Highway Patrol, the 16-year-old had marijuana and alcohol in his system when his vehicle slammed into the victims’ car at West Flagler Street and 79th Avenue.
Twenty-old-year-old Yuhlia Barzaga, 22-year-old Christian Mohip, 21-year-old Andres Zacarias and 21-year-old Jenser Salazar all died following the crash.
Authorities said Garcia was driving at 111 miles per hour when he slammed into the victims’ vehicle.
During the court hearing on Tuesday, Barzaga’s father, Andres Medina, explained to the judge how the recent vandalism of the crash site memorial has compounded the pain.
“We set up a memorial on 79th Avenue and Flagler Street, and twice it’s been vandalized,” said Andres Medina. “This has taken a lot out of everybody. My daughter was about to graduate now from FIU. We’re really hurt by this, and we know there’s nothing that can bring them back, but it’s really hard.”
Garcia will be held without bond.
There have now been more than 2.17 million reported cases of the coronavirus in Florida, with 34,533 deaths.
As of 2 p.m. Tuesday, the Florida Department of Health reported 2,178,783 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 5,645 from Monday’s update.
The state also reported a single-day increase of 62 deaths.
There are now 472,941 total confirmed cases in Miami-Dade County and 229,641 total cases in Broward.
The total number of cases in Palm Beach County has now reached 139,479 and 6,757 total cases have been reported in Monroe County.
Health officials reported 88,521 hospital admissions statewide.
For a full breakdown of the cases in Florida, click here.
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden said Tuesday the conviction of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin in the killing of George Floyd “can be a giant step forward” for the nation in the fight against systemic racism. But he declared that “it’s not enough.”
Biden spoke from the White House hours after the verdict alongside Vice President Kamala Harris, with the pair saying the country’s work is far from finished with the verdict.
“We can’t stop here,” Biden declared.
Biden and Harris called on Congress to act swiftly to address policing reform, including by approving a bill named for Floyd, who died with his neck under Chauvin’s knee last May. Beyond that, the president said, the entire country must confront hatred to “change hearts and minds as well as laws and policies.”
“‘I can’t breathe.’ Those were George Floyd’s last words,” Biden said. “We can’t let those words die with him. We have to keep hearing those words. We must not turn away. We can’t turn away.”
Harris, the first Black woman to serve as vice president, said racism was keeping the country from fulfilling its founding promise of “liberty and justice for all.”
“It is not just a Black America problem or a people of color problem. it is a problem for every American,” she said. “It is holding our nation back from reaching our full potential.”
“A measure of justice isn’t the same as equal justice,” she said.
Biden addressed the nation after telephoning Floyd’s family following the verdict, telling them, “We’re all so relieved.” He added later that he sought to comfort Floyd’s young daughter Gianna, telling her, “Daddy did change the world.”
After about 10 hours of deliberations over two days, the jury convicted Chauvin of two counts of murder and one of manslaughte r.
The verdict — and the aftermath — will be a continuing test for Biden. He has pledged to help combat racism in policing, helping African Americans who supported him in large numbers in last year’s election in the wake of protests that swept the nation after Floyd’s death and restarted a national conversation about race. But he also has long projected himself as an ally of police, who are struggling with criticism about long-used tactics and training methods and difficulties in recruitment.
Earlier Tuesday, Biden broke his administration’s silence on the trial, which has set the nation on edge for weeks, saying he was praying for “the right verdict.”
Speaking from the Oval Office while the jury was deliberating in Minneapolis, Biden said, “I’m praying the verdict is the right verdict. I think it’s overwhelming, in my view. I wouldn’t say that unless the jury was sequestered now.”
The president had repeatedly denounced Floyd’s death but had previously stopped short of weighing in on Chauvin’s trial, with White House officials saying it would be improper to speak out during active judicial proceedings. On Tuesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki repeatedly refused to explain Biden’s comments, doing nothing to dispel the impression that he thought Chauvin should be found guilty.
The White House had been privately weighing how to handle the verdict, dispatching specially trained community facilitators from the Justice Department in anticipation of potential protests, officials said. With word that a verdict had been reached Tuesday afternoon, Biden postponed planned remarks at the White House on his infrastructure package.
On Monday, Judge Peter Cahill, who presided over the trial, admonished public officials about speaking out while the trial was ongoing.
“I wish elected officials would stop talking about this case, especially in a manner that’s disrespectful to the rule of law and to the judicial branch and our function,” he said shortly after sending the jury to begin deliberations.
Defense attorneys often cite remarks made by public officials as a reason to appeal a verdict, in part because they could poison the jury against the defendant.
Cahill delivered his rebuke after rejecting a defense request for a mistrial based in part on comments from California Rep. Maxine Waters, who said “we’ve got to get more confrontational” if Chauvin isn’t convicted of murder. He conceded to Chauvin’s attorneys that Waters’ comments could potentially be grounds for an appeal.
On Monday, Cahill ordered that jurors be sequestered in an undisclosed hotel during their deliberations and instructed them to avoid all news about the case.
Despite Cahill’s remarks, Brock Hunter, a criminal defense attorney and past president of the Minnesota Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, said he considered a successful appeal over remarks like Waters’ and Biden’s extremely unlikely.
“It’s inevitable that public officials are going to comment on a case and its impacts on communities,” he said. “Unless there is direct evidence that statements by a public official directly impacted a juror or jurors, I don’t think this even gets off the ground.”
On Capitol Hill, Republicans as well as Democrats said they were relived at the verdict and predicted it could give momentum to policing reform legislation that has been proposed in both the House and Senate.
“I think the verdict just reinforces that our justice system continues to become more just,” said Tim Scott of South Carolina, the only Black Republican senator. “This is a monumental day in many ways, in my opinion.”
The Congressional Black Caucus watched the verdict together in the Capitol, and members hugged and fist pumped after the verdict was read.
“The room was filled with emotion and gratitude,” said Georgia Rep. Hank Johnson. “Black lives mattered to this jury. And I’m very gratified at the verdict, very happy at the swiftness of the verdict. … It’s a vindication of justice in America.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined the Black Caucus shortly afterward at a news conference outside, where she said she had spoken to Floyd’s family just before the verdict. She said she called “to say to them, ‘Thank you, God bless you, for your grace and your dignity, for the model that you are appealing for justice in the most dignified way.’”
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Democrats, voting rights advocates and the county officials responsible for running elections in Florida appeared powerless to halt moves by Republican lawmakers on Tuesday to tighten the ways in which citizens can cast ballots.
As Florida gears up for another round of elections in 2022 — headlined by nationally watched races for governor and U.S. Senate — the changes could be far from inconsequential in a state famous for razor-thin contests.
A final Senate committee on Tuesday endorsed a measure that Republicans argue will make voting more secure by enacting new voter ID and signature requirements, restricting who can return completed ballots and placing new rules on ballot drop boxes — unnecessary changes, Democrats contend, that will only complicate the voting process.
Florida Republicans are making the push even as neighboring Georgia faces a backlash over its new voting restrictions, which limit ballot drop boxes, impose tougher ID requirements and prohibit giving food and water to people in line.
“A lot’s been said about this bill, and I understand that elections are controversial and I understand that there’s a fear we are trying to take away the right of people to vote. I also want you to know that is not the motivation of the bill,” said Sen. Dennis Baxley, the Republican bill sponsor.
A similar House bill cleared its final committee on Monday. Both versions now head for floor votes in chambers controlled by Republican majorities before negotiations begin to align the bills. The House bill, unlike the Senate’s, would ban groups from distributing food and water to voters waiting in line.
The stakes could not be higher in a state that had been mired in election fiascos before touting itself as a national model last year. Millions of so-called absentee voters participated during the pandemic, casting ballots by mail or submitting their ballots at drop boxes outside elections offices or at early voting sites.
In all, some 4.8 million Floridians voted by mail in November, a record number that accounted for about 44% of the 11 million votes cast.
In the end, Florida Democrats outvoted Republicans by mail by 680,000 more absentee ballots. President Donald Trump still won Florida by about 3%, but the Democratic advantage prompted alarm among Republicans who long had the upper hand in absentee voting.
“The right to vote should be encouraged, never imperiled. The right to vote should be promoted, not discouraged. We should feel that so many of the provisions in this bill don’t have any necessity behind them,” said Sen. Gary Farmer, the top Democrat in his chamber.
The proposals would require those who use ballot drop boxes to present an ID before they can submit their completed ballot — a requirement that does not apply to ballots delivered by the U.S. Postal Service.
They would also limit who can return absentee ballots for voters who cannot physically do so themselves, to prevent so-called “ballot harvesting” by groups who Republicans fear could tamper with ballots or not deliver them — assertions that Democrats and voter rights groups have called unfounded.
“I think they are trying to complicate voting. they are tying to confuse voters. None of this was ever a concern before,” said Patricia Brigham, the president of the League of Women Voters of Florida.
“One must wonder who do they want voting and who don’t they want voting,” Brigham added. “Who are they disenfranchising here?”
Civil rights groups contend that the proposals, if signed into law, could reduce electoral participation by Black voters and those who are not regular voters.
The new rules, if enacted, would require anyone conducting once-routine transactions, like updating registration information, to submit an identification number, such as a partial Social Security number.
They would also limit what information elections officers use to match signatures, by requiring them to use the most recent ink signature on file, instead of using an array of previous signatures that might capture some of the variances in how people sign their names.
That could lead to more ballots being rejected, according to elections officials.
During Tuesday’s Senate committee hearing, a lone Republican voted against the proposal, noting that the group representing the state’s 67 county elections supervisors oppose the bill.
WEST HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (AP) — An employee was killed and two people were wounded Tuesday in a shooting at a Long Island grocery store, police said.
Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said a person of interest in the shooting had worked at the store and remains at large.
The shooting happened around 11 a.m. inside a manager’s office upstairs from the shopping floor at the Stop & Shop in West Hempstead, Ryder said. There were about a “couple hundred” shoppers inside the store at the time.
The name of the victims have not been made public. The man who was killed was a 49-year-old store employee, Ryder said. The two wounded were hospitalized and were conscious and alert.
Police identified the person of interest as 30-year-old Gabriel DeWitt Wilson. It was unclear whether he was still employed by the store, Ryder said.
Wilson was wearing all black and carrying a small handgun as he fled westbound on Hempstead Turnpike, Ryder told reporters at a news conference in a nearby parking lot.
Video of the aftermath of the shooting showed police cars and ambulances parked in front of the store, officers with long guns and yellow crime scene tape draped across the entrance.
Curran said nearby schools have been told not to admit visitors and residents were asked to remain indoors.
West Hempstead is near the Queens-Nassau County border and about 30 miles (50 kilometers) east of midtown Manhattan.
Stop & Shop President Gordon Reid issued a statement in which he said the company was “shocked and heartbroken.”
“Our hearts go out to the families of the victims, our associates, customers and the first responders who have responded heroically to this tragic situation,” Reid said, adding that the store would be closed until further notice.
Stop & Shop is a grocery chain in the northeastern U.S. owned by the Dutch company Ahold Delhaize.
ATLANTA (AP) — An Atlanta high school that was named after a Ku Klux Klan leader will strip the name and instead honor the late baseball Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.
The Atlanta Board of Education voted unanimously last week Monday to change the name of Forrest Hill Academy to Hank Aaron New Beginnings Academy, news outlets reported. The new name is expected to be in place by the time students return to the southwest Atlanta alternative school in August.
Aaron, a former Atlanta Braves baseball player, died in January at the age of 86. Under the nickname “Hammerin’ Hank,” he set a wide array of career hitting records during his 23-year span, ultimately breaking Babe Ruth’s home run record while enduring racist threats.
Forrest Hill Academy had been named after Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate general and an early leader of the Ku Klux Klan.
“It is very important that we understand our history,” Board member Michelle Olympiadis said during the Monday meeting. “It’s very important that we understand where we are coming from.”
The board’s vice chair, Eshé Collins, said the decision has also led to discussions about renaming the street the school is located on, Forrest Hills Drive, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
The body has approved the renaming of four other district schools in recent months, all of which previously honored historical figures who held racist views, according to the newspaper.