Showing posts with label Miami-Dade. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Miami-Dade. Show all posts

Friday, July 2, 2021

7 Year old daughter of firefighter found in Surfside rubble

Please pray for all the families involved but hold a special place in your prayers for this firefighter. 

Miami Firefighter's 7-Year-Old Daughter Found in Surfside Collapse Rubble
NBC Miami
Published July 2, 2021

The body of the 7-year-old daughter of a Miami firefighter was recovered from the site of the collapsed condominium tower in Surfside, officials said Friday.

The girl's body was found in the rubble of the Champlain Towers South Thursday night by members of the Urban Search and Rescue Team.

The firefighter, a member of the team that found his daughter, was notified immediately, officials said.

Family members identified the girl as Stella, the daughter of Graciela Cattarossi, who lives in the building with her parents, Gino and Graciela Sr. The three adults remain missing.
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Saturday, January 14, 2017

Miami Dade Veterans Court Helping Veterans Bypass Bars

New veterans court opens in Miami Dade
Miami Herald
David Ovalle
January 13, 2017
“This program will help a lot of other veterans, I was just one of the first,” said Lovette, who is now sober and studying engineering at Miami Dade College.
Presentation of the colors by a joint honor guard from Southenn Command during opening ceremony for Miami's new veteran court at the Miami Dade criminal court on Friday, January 13, 2017
Robert Koltun

Former U.S. Army soldier Elliot Lovette can trace his mental breakdowns — years of flashbacks, panic attacks and hallucinations — to the day a roadside bomb in 2004 ripped apart his Humvee during a patrol in Iraq.

Struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder and drugs eventually landed him in a Miami jail, charged with fighting a police officer during a breakdown in October 2015.

But Lovette got back on track when he entered a fledgling program designed to help Miami-Dade’s large veteran population, hooking them up with specialized treatment, substance abuse rehab and even mentoring from fellow former members of the military.

Earlier this month, Miami-Dade prosecutors officially dropped the charges against the 35-year-old after he completed the yearlong program.

On Friday, Lovette celebrated the occasion on a grander stage, joined by judges, lawyers, mental-health professionals and the head of Miami’s Veterans Affairs healthcare office as they officially marked the formal creation of a Miami-Dade veterans court.
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Sunday, November 29, 2015

Miami Family Grieving After Murder Suicide

Mother, son found dead in Miami home in apparent murder-suicide 
Woman finds mother in pool of blood, calls 911
Local 10 News
Author: Peter Burke, Managing Editor
Amy Viteri, Reporter
Published On: Nov 25 2015
Sources told Local 10 News that Loholfftz was preparing a Thanksgiving turkey when she was shot. They said Reyes' sister and friend told them he was an Army veteran and suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.
MIAMI - A woman and her son were found dead inside a Miami home in an apparent murder-suicide.

The discovery was made Wednesday afternoon in the 1700 block of Northwest 30th Street.

Miami police said a woman entered the home, found her mother lying in a pool of blood and saw her brother sitting in the living room with what appeared to be a gun, so she ran out of the house and called 911.

When police arrived, they found the woman's mother and brother dead of gunshot wounds.
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Sunday, March 15, 2015

South Miami-Dade Cultural Center Brings Veterans’ Experiences Home

‘Basetrack Live’ at South Miami-Dade Cultural Center brings veterans’ experiences back home
Miami Herald
Jordan Levin
Younger veterans, who join in their late teens before they have really grown up, are often most lost when they return to civilian life. But service members of all ages feel alienated, not just from a society that touts them as heroes but in many ways seems oblivious to them, but even to their families — who endure their own trauma. The result is high rates of alcoholism, homelessness, domestic violence and suicide — effects that can last for years. Many of the 22 veterans who commit suicide every day fought in Vietnam.
Anthony Torres was not on the front lines when he was sent to work at Abu Ghraib Hospital in Iraq in 2004, during the second U.S. assault on anti-U.S. insurgents down the road in Fallujah. In the aftermath of the killing and mutilation of four U.S. contractors and the discovery of torture at Abu Ghraib prison, the Iraq War was at its horrifying height. As a mental health technician, Torres’ job was to counsel Marines and soldiers struggling with fear, depression, rage and mental trauma.

But with nearby explosions rattling the sky every day, random death raining in on the camp in the form of mortars and stray fire (which killed a fellow medic as he stepped out of a trailer), the flow of wounded men, and the agonized stories he heard, Torres dealt with his own share of stress.

“Everyone deployed to Iraq is in combat,” says Torres, 33. “Any day you could be killed. But at some point you just have to give in. It can drive you crazy. Some people had panic attacks. I decided I’m just gonna keep doing my job.”

When he returned to his unit at Fort Hood, Texas, Torres was put in charge of 14 people at a substance abuse clinic. But even among fellow military, he felt out of place.
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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Jury awards $3.3 million to man wrongfully detained in bank scare

Miami-Dade County jury awards $3.3 million to man wrongfully detained in bank scare

The Miami Herald

When Rodolfo Valladares walked into an Aventura Bank of America, he simply wanted to cash his $100 check. A jumpy bank teller, thinking he looked like a robber, hit a silent alarm.

Police from Aventura and Miami-Dade rushed to the bank, ordered everyone to the floor as they physically detained Valladares, handcuffing him and kicking him in the head, his lawyer said. He was let go when bank employees and police realize they made a mistake.

For his troubles, Valladares soon will be getting a much bigger check.

A Miami-Dade jury has awarded Valladares $3.3 million in damages after ruling that the bank was negligent in triggering the silent alarm, then failing to cancel it when employees realized he was not a robber.

Valladares, 50, a former mortgage company loan officer, still suffers from headaches, blurred vision and post-traumatic stress disorder, said his attorney Russell S. Adler.

Bank of America plans to appeal the verdict, believing their employees acted reasonably.
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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Suicide by cop ended Air Force military police officer vet's life

Friend says woman wanted suicide by cop

NORTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, Fla. (WSVN) -- A man who wanted to help a woman after she threatened to kill herself said she wanted to die before she shot a Miami-Dade Police officer and officers returned fire, killing her.

That officer, identified by police as 15-year veteran William Vazquez, was protected by a bullet-proof vest, which saved his life. He and Officer Saul Rodriguez responded to a home along 109th Street and Northwest 10th Avenue, at around 3:30 a.m., Friday. According to MDPD, the officers had responded to a disturbance call.

One friend said 32-year-old Catabawa Howard had been threatening to take her life for quite some time, and her shooting the officer in the stomach was an attempt to commit suicide by cop. "She wanted to get killed," said a man who only wanted to be identified as "Derek."

He said, before the fatal police-involved shooting, Howard had offered to pay him $500 to shoot her. "She wanted me to kill her," he said. Her mother verified this earlier in the morning.

Derek instead had her admitted to a mental ward. "I took her to crisis," he said. "I left her. I made sure they put here behind the doors, and once I left, I went to her mom's house because her mom is right across the street from crisis."

A former Air Force military police officer, Howard was discharged after being diagnosed for mental issues, family members said. Just one day after Derek took her into crisis intervention, she would be shot dead. "I just saw her maybe yesterday," Derek said, "and I made sure I took her to crisis."

read more here

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Miami-Dade starts specialized drug court for military veterans

Miami-Dade starts specialized drug court for military veterans

For the first time, drug-addicted veterans facing low-level drug charges will get coordinated assistance from the Veterans Affairs agency and the courts.



Miami’s Terrell Cooper spent three years in the U.S. Air Force as a missile technician, but left in 2004 after his father and the mother of his baby died within a few months of each other.

Seven years later, Cooper, 30, has a steady job and four daughters — but is also battling addiction to cocaine and marijuana. On Friday, facing a cocaine possession charge, he became part of a fledgling Miami-Dade court program designed specially for veterans with drug problems like his.

Thanks to the new Veterans Court, Cooper will for the first time get coordinated services from the Department of Veterans Affairs and the county’s lauded Drug Court, offering the promise of specialized drug treatment and financial assistance returning to college.

“I feel more motivated,” said Cooper, a UPS delivery man. “I’ll be able to go to school, and move in a direction I’ve been wanting to move in.”

The Veterans Court is part of a growing nationwide movement of courts designated specifically for veterans, allowing them to avoid jail or prison by entering intense court-monitored drug rehabilitation. The concept is an extension of drug court, which first started in Miami more than two decades ago.

Miami’s Veterans Court is the 69th in 24 states across the country. It started in Buffalo, N.Y., three years ago to handle the crush of substance-abusing service men and women running afoul of the law after stints in Middle East conflict zones. That city’s program claims not a single graduate has been re-arrested, and people familiar with the other courts say anecdotal reports are encouraging.

Read more:
Miami-Dade starts specialized drug court for military veterans

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Marine Charged With Killing Friend

Marine Charged With Killing Friend During Drunken Brawl
“We have two families each who has lost a son," said Miami-Dade police

Kevin Toledo, a Miami-Dade College student studying nursing and working as a security guard, was considering joining the military.

Wednesday night, his stunned friends and family mourned his death by gathering in the darkness outside his family's home in Little Havana, calling him "a good man" and "a brother." Tears were everywhere. His friend Ken Shika is now charged with first degree murder in his death. Police say they got into a drunken brawl. Shika, a Marine Reserve Sergeant who did two tours in Iraq, shot his friend in the back, according to police.

"This is, in fact, a tragedy all the way around,” says Roy Rutland, spokesperson for the usually tight-lipped Miami-Dade police. “We have two families each who has lost a son. And we have lost an American soldier who is now being charged with first degree murder and is looking at spending the rest of his life in prison.”
read more  here
Marine Charged With Killing Friend During Drunken Brawl

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Police: Miami music teacher kills himself, wife, 2 daughters

Again, reporters release the names of people before family members have been notified. So sad.

Police: Miami music teacher kills himself, wife, 2 daughters
The Associated Press
2:23 PM EST, February 25, 2009

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY - A 53-year-old music teacher fatally shot his wife and two daughters this morning before turning the gun on himself, while his 16-year-old son who survived the attack managed to call 911 as he escaped uninjured from the Miami home, authorities said.

Police haven't released names, but neighbors identified the family members as Pablo Josue Amador; his 45-year-old wife, Maria; their youngest daughters, Priscila and Rosa; and the escaped son, Javier. They said the couple also had a 19-year-old daughter who attends college.

Sarit Betancourt, a 44-year-old school bus driver who lives near the family, said Amador is a Cuban immigrant who gave piano lessons at a guitar shop and at his home. Betancourt's two sons, ages 9 and 10, had been taking piano lessons from him once a week since 2006.

"He was a marvelous person and a tremendous professor," she said. "People would enter the house, and you just breathed peace."
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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

OxyContin bust nets 56 Miami-Dade government employees

OxyContin bust nets 56 Miami-Dade government employees
Story Highlights
Total of 62 arrested, including police officer, felony court clerk, corrections officers

Officials: Recruiters enlisted mostly Miami-Dade government workers in drug ring

Authorities: Health insurance information used to get OxyContin prescriptions

More than 12,000 tablets were obtained, with a street value of $400,000

MIAMI, Florida (CNN) -- Fifty-six government employees -- including a police officer, a felony court clerk, two corrections officers and 27 school bus drivers and attendants -- were arrested in a scam that used health insurance information to fraudulently obtain prescriptions for the painkiller OxyContin, authorities said Wednesday.

Sixty-two people were arrested in total and all face charges including racketeering, conspiracy to commit racketeering and grand theft, according to the Miami-Dade state attorney's office.

Authorities estimate 130 medically unnecessary prescriptions for OxyContin -- more than 12,000 tablets -- were presented to pharmacies. The drugs have an estimated street value of $400,000, prosecutors said.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Spc. Alex Lotero PTSD and waiting in jail

Soldier with PTSD waits for Army transfer from Miami jail
Published Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2008 at 5:26 p.m.

MIAMI — A soldier with post-traumatic stress disorder is being jailed on a desertion charge and has not seen a judge since his arrest earlier this month, leading a veterans group to criticize the Army for not acting fast enough to transfer the man.

Spc. Alex Lotero was arrested Feb. 1 and brought to Miami-Dade County jail. He had been based at Fort Carson, Colo., before he left his post without permission.

Dee McNutt, a public affairs officer at Fort Carson, said Wednesday afternoon that Lotero should be returned to the base within a couple of days. She said Fort Carson's policy is to try to return soldiers arrested in other jurisdictions within 10 days.

Lotero was reported missing from Fort Carson on June 15, McNutt said.

Army officials said a soldier deemed to be a deserter can be held for up to 30 days before being taken into military custody, but Veterans for America spokeswoman Adrienne Willis said it was her understanding that Lotero should have been transferred within 72 hours.
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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Army Spec. Alex Lotero PTSD and arrested for being AWOL

February 5th, 2008 8:33 pm
Dade soldier is a deserter, Army says

A Miami-Dade soldier who went public with his battle with post-traumatic stress disorder was arrested on a warrant for being a deserter, police and military officials said.

By David Ovalle / Miami Herald

Depression, nightmares and anxiety attacks plagued him after a roadside bomb obliterated his friends in Iraq.

He shared his plight with reporters and a congressional delegation. He complained about inadequate treatment and indifference from military superiors.

Diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, Army Spec. Alex Lotero was a public casualty of the Iraq War -- and now the military says he's a deserter.

Shortly after he took his case public, Lotero deserted his base in Fort Carson, Colo., in June 2007, the military said. Lotero, 21, was arrested late last week after he was discovered by Miami-Dade police in Kendall.

Miami-Dade officers were called to a domestic dispute involving Lotero and his girlfriend in Kendall, where he had been hiding from military authorities.

Officer Keyfrem Guzman ran a routine records check on Lotero and discovered the Army had issued an arrest warrant for the goateed, tattooed soldier.

''He had no choice but to arrest him,'' said Miami-Dade Detective Mario Rachid, a police spokesman.

Lotero, who grew up in Miami and graduated from Sunset High, is being held at Miami-Dade County Jail.

According to Fort Carson spokeswoman Dee McNutt, Lotero had been absent without leave since June 2007. When base officials receive the report from Miami-Dade police, military personnel will pick him up from Miami-Dade's jail, she said.

Lotero's story came to light in May 2007 through Washington-based Veterans of America, which lobbies for rights for soldiers returning from combat zones.
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How many times are we going to keep doing this? Sending them into combat and then refuse to take care of them if they get wounded is wrong. Lotero was from Fort Carson, the same Fort that did the bulk of the dishonorable discharges for "personality disorders" instead of treating them like the wounded warriors they all are.

The new commander of Fort Carson, Mark Graham, should move mountains to take care of his men the previous commander refused to take care of. He should make sure that Lotero gets the help and justice he needs instead of being locked up in a Miami jail.