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Tony Marrero, Times Staff Writer

Tony Marrero

Tony Marrero covers breaking news and general assignment stories in Hillsborough County. A Baltimore native, he joined the Times in 2009.

Phone: (813) 226-3374

Email: tmarrero@tampabay.com

Twitter: @TMarreroTimes

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  1. Clearwater driver says he didn't know he was carrying people in sweltering trailer

    Nation

    Alton Bradley saw his uncle on the news and couldn't believe the allegations against him.

    James Mathew Bradley Jr., who authorities have said is from Clearwater, is accused of driving a sweltering semitrailer truck that was discovered outside a Texas Walmart with some 30 undocumented immigrants inside. Ten of them died.

    That's not the man his family knows, Alton Bradley, son of James Bradley's oldest brother, told the Tampa Bay Times on Monday. ...

    James Mathew Bradley Jr., 60, of Clearwater, left, arrives at the federal courthouse for a hearing, Monday, July 24, 2017, in San Antonio. Bradley was arrested in connection with the deaths of multiple people packed into a broiling tractor-trailer. [Associated Press]
  2. East Tampa store owner who survived one shooting is targeted again with fatal results (w/video)

    Crime

    TAMPA — In the 2011 video, Mohamoud Ibrahim stood behind the counter of his tiny east Tampa convenience store, his back to the surveillance camera meant to discourage thieves.

    Then a robber walked in, pointed a gun at him and gave him a white bag. Ibrahim handed over his cash drawer, but the robber shot him anyway. Ibrahim survived, but the case remains unsolved.

    Last week, another robber walked into Ibrahim's convenience store. This time, the 60-year-old father of four was shot before he handed over any money. He died on the floor of the 29th Street Store, a business he had owned and operated for 16 years....

    A memorial has sprouted in front of the 29th Street Store in East Tampa after a robber fatally shot owner Mohamoud Ibrahim on July 16. [TONY MARRERO/Times staff]
  3. Authorities recover body of missing boater in Lake Thonotosassa

    Accidents

    THONOTOSASSA — Authorities on Thursday recovered the body of a 44-year-old Plantation man who went missing while boating on Lake Thonotosassa.

    Searchers in a boat spotted the body of Juan Luis Linares near the surface shortly before 9 a.m., said Officer Brian Norris, a spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.

    The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office received a 911 call about 1:45 p.m. Wednesday from a witness who spotted a small boat with no one in it, Norris said. The witness reported seeing someone in the water near the 17-foot boat....

  4. Father of girl found dead in Riverview nature preserve no longer cooperating with investigators

    Crime

    TAMPA — The father of a 13-year-old girl found dead in a Riverview nature preserve has stopped cooperating with investigators, a Hillsborough County Sheriff's official said Monday.

    Nahshon Shannon, 37, was initially helpful and provided an interview after a decomposing body found in a remote section of Triple Creek Nature Preserve was identified as Janessa Shannon, his missing daughter, Col. Donna Lusczynski said at a news conference Monday....

    A body found in a Hillsborough County nature preserve was identified Saturday as Janessa Shannon, 13, who disappeared from her Riverview home on July 2. [National Center for Missing & Exploited Children]
  5. Tampa police arrest 24-year-old man in connection to fatal shooting of store clerk

    Crime

    TAMPA — Police have arrested a 24-year-old Tampa man and charged him with murder in connection with Sunday's shooting death of a convenience store clerk.

    According to Tampa police, Christopher Antonio Sheffield fatally shot Mohamoud Ibrahim, 60, during a robbery at the 29th Street Store, 2802 N 29th St.

    Police arrested Sheffield about 4 a.m. Monday after receiving a tip that he might be hiding out in a Tampa apartment complex....

    Police say Christopher Antonio Sheffield, 24, fatally shot Mohamoud Ibrahim.
  6. Divers recover body in lake where man fell off water scooter Sunday

    Accidents

    TAMPA — Divers recovered a body Monday in the area of an east Tampa lake where a man fell off a water scooter Sunday afternoon and never resurfaced.

    Divers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission discovered the body about 11:30 a.m., said James Boogaerts, an agency spokesman. It was found where Eduardo Godfrey, 28, was operating a water scooter in East Lake about 3:30 p.m. Sunday when he made a sharp turn and was thrown from the machine along with a passenger....

  7. Story of Varn brothers' killings at Plant City ranch reads like Old West shoot-em-up

    Crime

    PLANT CITY — Joanne Varn spotted the SUV barreling into the pasture trailing a cloud of dust and felt a sense of dread.

    She hoped it wasn't her ex-husband, Milton Varn, a man with a temper who would be angry that she was there with her new husband and her former brother-in-law, Perry Varn. Moments earlier, the trio had rolled into the pasture of Rocking V Ranch to look at a horse Perry wanted to sell....

    A report from the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office includes a photo showing the aftermath of the shootout at the Varn family ranch on April 5. Evidence gathered includes the bloodied shirt worn by George "Terry" Long, who was injured, and a red purse and revolver owned by his wife Joanne Varn. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  8. Sinkhole swallows home, forces evacuations in Land O'Lakes neighborhood

    Public Safety

    LAND O' LAKES — Edilia Villa sat behind yellow police tape Friday morning and watched as her first home in the United States sank into the ground.

    "This house, it was a fresh start for us," said the 5o-year-old, who emigrated to the U.S. from Cuba with her daughter in 2007 to escape poverty. "It really was like the American Dream."

    What began as a small depression under a boat parked in the front yard next to Villa's burnt-orange Ocean Pines Drive rental home quickly grew to a behemoth pit. It destroyed one home and nearly swallowed Villa's, and prompted the county to declare at least 11 others unsafe. From the air, the neighborhood looked unrecognizable: streets lined with TV trucks, the area inside the sinkhole the color of a clay tennis court....

    A sinkhole swallowed a house located at 21835 Ocean Pines Dr. in Land O' Lakes on Friday, July 14, 2017. [ALESSANDRA DA PRA  |   Times]
  9. Plant City decided against police cameras but could use their clarity now in fatal shooting probe

    Public Safety

    PLANT CITY — When two Plant City police officers opened fire on a motorist last week, at least one camera was rolling — but it wasn't attached to the officers or their patrol cars.

    Investigators working to determine whether the fatal shooting of 35-year-old Jesus Cervantes was justified have only the grainy footage from at least one surveillance camera at an adjacent BP gas station....

    Law enforcement officers with Plant City police and the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office collect evidence at the scene of a crash and fatal shooting. Two Plant City officers opened fire on the driver of this car after they saw him reach for something in the back seat, police said. [TONY MARRERO   |   Times]
  10. Deputies: Gibsonton woman ran over another woman after argument about parking

    Crime

    GIBSONTON — An argument over parking led to an attempted murder charge for a woman who ran over another woman with her car, deputies said.

    Sasha Mendoza, 27, and Kristina Blair, 38, got into an argument about "parking concerns" at a home at 11313 Fish Hook Place about 3:40 a.m. Tuesday, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. Mendoza lives at the Fish Hook Place address....

    Sasha Mendoza, 28, of Gibsonton intentionally ran over another woman with her car after an argument about parking, sheriff's investigators said. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  11. Friends baffled by Plant High grad's arrest in melee aboard China flight

    Crime

    TAMPA — Nick Rich stopped by Joe Hudek's house last week to say hello and give him some money he owed him. It was a good time to repay his buddy, who was about to embark on a trip to China.

    Hudek was excited about the journey and seemed his mild-mannered self, Rich said.

    The next day, Rich awoke from a nap to find his phone "blowing up" with calls and texts from alarmed and baffled friends. Several sent links to news stories chronicling the arrest of a man he couldn't imagine was the same Joe Hudek he knew....

    Joe Hudek IV was arrested Thursday after authorities say he tried to open an exit door on an airborne Boeing 767  then got into a brawl with flight attendants and passengers. Friends of the Plant High School graduate say they are baffled by the allegations. [Facebook]
  12. Family devastated, puzzled by official account in fatal shooting of Plant City man

    Public Safety

    PLANT CITY — Jesus Cervantes seemed fine when he left the home in Dover he shares with his wife and four daughters about 4 a.m. Thursday, his sister-in-law said.

    "He told them that he loves them and that was the last thing he said," Gabriela Molina said.

    About 90 minutes later, Cervantes was dead, fatally shot by two Plant City police officers who say he tried to run one of them off the road before crashing his car at a gas station and refusing commands to show his hands....

    Law enforcement officers with Plant City police and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office collect evidence at the scene of a crash and fatal shooting Thursday. Two Plant City officers opened fire on the driver of this car, 35-year-old Jesus Cervantes, after they saw him reach for something in the back seat, police said. [TONY MARRERO   |   Times]
  13. Plant City police shoot, kill driver in car chase following bizarre 911 call

    Crime

    PLANT CITY — What started as a bizarre call for help ended when two police officers shot a man to death as he appeared to reach for something in his car, authorities say.

    Plant City police received a 911 call about 5 a.m. Thursday from a man who claimed someone had been following him for two hours, said Plant City Police Sgt. Alfred Van Duyne.

    About 30 minutes later, as officers tried to locate the caller, the driver of a speeding black Nissan Altima tried to run a marked police cruiser off the road and crashed into a ditch in front of a BP gas station at Park Road and Alsobrook Street, northeast of Alexander Street and Airport Road, Van Duyne said....

    Jesus Cervantes, 35, was fatally shot by Plant City police officers Thursday morning after he tried to run an officer off the road then ignored commands from officers to show his hands, police said. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  14. With no Tampa office, how exactly is Marco Rubio keeping records?

    Blog

    Four months after his staff packed up and left its Tampa office, at the direction of a landlord frustrated by weekly demonstrations, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio still is looking for a home base in one of his state's largest metropolitan areas.

    So how's the search going?

    The Miami Republican's staff said they're working on it.

    "We are committed to serving constituents and staff continues to meet with them while we work to find office space in the Tampa region as soon as possible," said a statement emailed to the Tampa Bay Times by spokeswoman Christina Mandreucci. "Discussions with potential landlords are ongoing and we hope to open a new Tampa office soon."...

    Demonstrators with Indivisible Action Tampa Bay gather at the corner of Dale Mabry Highway and Kennedy Boulevard on June 26 to protest the Senate Republican health care bill. The demonstrations have taken place at the busy corner since March, when Sen. Marco Rubio left his office in the Bridgeport Center office building on Kennedy Boulevard.
  15. Marco Rubio has gone four months with no Tampa office, so where is he keeping records?

    Politics

    TAMPA — Four months after his staff packed up and left its Tampa office, at the direction of a landlord frustrated by weekly demonstrations, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio still is looking for a home base in one of his state's largest metropolitan areas.

    So how's the search going?

    The Miami Republican's staff said they're working on it.

    "We are committed to serving constituents and staff continues to meet with them while we work to find office space in the Tampa region as soon as possible," said a statement emailed to the Tampa Bay Times by spokeswoman Christina Mandreucci. "Discussions with potential landlords are ongoing and we hope to open a new Tampa office soon."...

    A notice posted on the Sen. Marco Rubio's web site tells visitors who want to meet with his Tampa staff to call a number. Rubio's two-person Tampa staff have been meeting with constituents in libraries, coffee shops and other public places.