POINCIANA — A man and woman in central Florida were killed and a third victim tortured and shot in a home invasion investigators say is drug-related.
Polk County sheriff’s officials on Sunday didn’t immediately identify the two killed in Poinciana, and wouldn’t say how 29-year-old Wilkins Merlan was tortured.
Merlan was shot twice, but able to crawl into a closet and call 911. His 3-year-old daughter was in the home but left unharmed.
Sheriff’s officials say a group of five or six men forced their way in, demanded $5,000 from Merlan and said he’d have to work for them if he wanted to sell drugs. The slain victims were not tortured or related to Merlan.
3 hurt when gun suddenly fires at firearms range
LAKELAND — A Tampa couple and an Irish tourist were shot at a Lakeland gun range after a handgun accidentally fired.
Polk County sheriff’s deputies say it’s not entirely clear how many times Michael and Sherri Thourot’s 9mm accidentally went off Saturday, or what caused the handgun to fire. The pistol was a Jennings make.
The man in an adjacent stall, 29-year-old Gary Flynn, of Ireland, was most seriously injured. He underwent surgery after being hit in the shoulder and throat, and was listed in stable condition.
Michael Thourot was shot in the left hand, and Sherri Thourot was hit in the left arm. Both were also listed in stable condition.
Patrol: Boy, 6, killed when SUV blows tire
ORLANDO — Authorities say a 6-year-old boy was killed and seven other children were injured when a sports utility vehicle blew a tire and flipped on Interstate 95.
Florida Highway Patrol Sgt. Kim Montes said it happened just before 5 p.m. Saturday near the Volusia-Flagler county line. The Ford Explorer struck a center guardrail and overturned twice.
Montes said other than the driver, 41-year-old Guerline Saint Juste of Orlando, all the occupants were children. She said the driver’s 6-year-old son, Abimael Saint Juste, was killed.
The injured children were taken to three hospitals in Volusia and Flagler counties.
Montes said the SUV was part of a caravan from an Orlando church, headed for Jacksonville. She did not know the name of the church.
Man back in prison days after 2-year stint
ORLANDO — A 24-year-old Florida man is back in jail, just days after he became a free man following a two-year sentence.
Douglas Martin told investigators he was broke and homeless after getting out of jail. Police say he started robbing banks after seeing a news report of a serial bank robber who made it look easy. Martin’s previous sentence was for burglary.
Police believe Martin robbed two banks between Tuesday, when he was released from prison, and Friday, when he was arrested just outside a Bank of America. It would’ve been his third heist, but Martin got spooked and walked out after passing the robbery note.
Duval prosecutors want judges to step down
JACKSONVILLE — Prosecutors in Duval County are trying to get judges to step down from cases in which fellow judge’s children are accused of drunk driving.
One judge agreed to recuse himself, but the other has refused.
Defense lawyers are accusing the state of “judge-shopping,” an allegation prosecutors deny.
The pending misdemeanors involve Donald Richard Moran III, son of Chief Circuit Judge Donald Moran, and Robert Mallory Foster, son of Nassau County Circuit Judge Robert Foster. Both are 25 and have prior DUI arrests.
The state conduct code says judges should disqualify themselves from any procedure where their impartiality might reasonably be questioned.
Cruise ship back to U.S. after hitting rival vessel
TAMPA — A Carnival cruise ship that bumped into a Royal Caribbean vessel at the Cozumel, Mexico, port has returned to Tampa.
The company says its Carnival Legend was blown Wednesday by “extremely strong winds” into Royal Caribbean’s Enchantment of the Seas, which was docked. Neither ship suffered major damage, though the Legend had broken glass and problems in deck areas.
The Legend runs seven-day Caribbean cruises out of Tampa, and was preparing for another voyage after it returned and passengers disembarked Sunday.
— Herald wire reports