Welaka – On October 23, 2014, at approximately 1:15 AM, deputies responded to a residence located on Old Welaka Road within the city limits of Welaka, to assist the Welaka Police Department with a reported burglary of an occupied residence. It was reported that an unidentified male unlawfully forced his way inside the residence and was caught by the 79 year-old homeowner in a guest bathroom. The individual fled from the residence as the homeowner armed herself with a handgun. The homeowner exited her home and fired her handgun at the individual as he fled into a wooded area behind the residence. The victim told deputies that she fired in the general direction of the fleeing individual but did not believe the subject had been struck. She identified the individual as being tall and slender. The victim reported that she believed he was a white male, but never actually saw his face.
K9 units responded and tracked the individual's scent, but the track ended at a set of fresh tire impressions a few blocks from the scene.
Due to the limited resources of the Welaka Police Department, the Putnam County Sheriff's Office took over the investigation. Sheriff Jeff Hardy has assigned members of the Major Crimes Unit the case.
This is still an ongoing investigation and additional information cannot be released at this time. Future releases will be provided when information becomes available.
Anyone with information related to this incident is asked to call Northeast Crime Stoppers at (888) 277-TIPS (8477).
Palatka, FL: The Putnam County Ten-24 Foundation announces the Play it Forward Putnam Cornhole tournament and concert featuring Middleground and 309C at the Putnam County Fairgrounds.
The Cornhole tournament will be held October 25th from 2pm-6pm. The concert will begin at 7 pm. Team registration for the Cornhole tournament continues through 1 pm Saturday, October, 25. For additional tournament information or to register teams, please contact Cody Hacker at 386-972-5572.
The event will feature face painting, bounce houses for children and plenty of food. Proceeds from food sales will benefit the Billy Dunning fundraiser. Admission tickets are $10 and may be purchased at the gate. Cash or credit/debit cards are accepted.
The Ten-24 Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that focuses on providing a support network for all Putnam County law enforcement agencies, their employees, and families in time of need.
Palatka, FL: On October 19, 2014, at approximately 8:50 a.m., the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office responded to a fight in progress at the Hi-Level Bar, located at 3821 Reid Street.
Deputies interviewed security staff from the bar and learned the suspects fled the area in a white Chevrolet Tahoe, moments prior to the deputies’ arrival. Justin Jones, who is employed by the Hi-Level as security staff told deputies that he was struck in the face multiple times by an unknown male, who refused to leave after causing a disturbance at the bar. Gary Odom who is also employed by the Hi-Level bar said the same subject also attempted to hit him in the head with a beer bottle but missed, striking the wall instead. Jones said the subject was restrained in the bar, but was able to break free. He then ran outside and struck another man whose identity was unknown, for no apparent reason.
Deputies at the bar quickly relayed the vehicle description to other law enforcement in the vicinity of the bar. An officer from the Palatka Police Department intercepted the vehicle on Zeagler Drive. The driver refused to stop and a short chase ensued. Deputies apprehended the vehicle on St. John’s Avenue with the assistance of the Palatka Police Department.
The driver, Thomas Arico, complied with the deputies commands and was taken into custody without incident. The passenger, Christopher Crooms, was initially compliant with deputies, then became belligerent and physically resisted deputies’ attempts to restrain him. Crooms complied after a brief struggle.
Deputies located a small amount of cannabis and cannabis grinder where Crooms was seated during an inventory search of the vehicle.
Arico was later identified as the aggressor in the incident at the bar. Arico was charged with fleeing and attempting to elude, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, two counts of battery and refusing to accept a criminal traffic citation. He is currently held in the Putnam County Jail. His bond is $5520.00.
Crooms was charged with resisting a law enforcement officer, possession of cannabis under 20 grams, and possession of drug paraphernalia. He posted bond and was subsequently released.
Hawthorne, FL: On October 20, 2014, at approximately 8:50 a.m., the Putnam County Sheriff's Office responded to a report of a burglary in progress at 204 Sunnyside Drive in Hawthorne.
The victim, Elizabeth Duran, indicated she was sleeping and was awakened by a loud noise. Duran, startled, ran to the window and saw a male subject standing in front of her shed. Duran called 911 to report what she saw. While she was on the phone, the male subject forced the sliding glass door open and Duran confronted him. The suspect fled from the residence in a vehicle.
Duran was able to tell the investigating deputy that she knew the subject only as RJ and that her boyfriend bought a computer from him previously, but was unable to provide any additional information. Deputies were able to identify RJ after a neighborhood canvass and visited his residence at 120 Elm Street where they met his grandmother, Joan Richards. Richards identified RJ as Ronald John Hubler II. She told the deputies that Hubler was gone when she woke up and had not seen him since.
Deputy Nicole Wisham spotted a vehicle matching the description provided by Duran a short time later in the 2000 Block of State Road 20. Wisham was able to confirm the vehicle belonged to Hubler's grandmother, and stopped the car, which was operated by Hubler. Wisham interviewed Hubler who was subsequently arrested for burglary.
Hubler is charged with burglary of an occupied dwelling and is held in the Putnam County Jail. His bond was set at $2504.00
Putnam County – During the early morning hours of October 17, members of the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office Street Crimes Unit took to the streets throughout the county in search of 14 suspects wanted for the sale of various narcotics. Eight suspects were arrested during the warrant sweep and six are still wanted. The warrants were issued after the suspects sold narcotics during undercover investigations. The investigations, which took place throughout the county from Putnam Hall to Crescent City over the past four months, were conducted by members of the Sheriff’s Office Drug and Vice Unit.
Harry Robinson Jr was charged with sale of cocaine from his West Towles Avenue residence after he sold crack cocaine to an undercover detective during the investigative phase of this operation. Robinson was arrested on October 16 for the sale charge at the same time he was arrested an aggravated assault charge stemming from the October 3RD robbery and shooting of John Dudash.
The operation is part of Sheriff Jeff Hardy’s ongoing efforts to aggressively combat drug abuse in Putnam County. Sheriff Hardy said “This operation, particularly the arrest of Harry Robinson, showcases the link between dangerous drugs and violence. Our deputies are working hard to make Putnam County a safer place to live, work, and raise a family. I commend them for a job well done.”
Deputies are continuing to search for the remaining wanted persons. Anyone with information regarding the location of any of the remaining wanted suspects is encouraged to contact Crime Stoppers at 1-888-277-TIPS (8477). Tipsters can remain anonymous and are eligible for a Cash reward if the information leads to the arrest of a wanted person.