A Polk public schools bus attendant, Juanita Tappin, 43, of Lakeland, has been charged with three counts of child abuse and three counts of abused on a disabled adult. The arrest came after a special needs child reported she had been struck en route to Doris A. Sanders Learning Center.
Crime / Justice
A man suspected in a Dixieland shooting that sent a 23-year-old woman to the hospital Monday evening turned himself in to authorities this morning after his photo was posted on social media, Lakeland police said. Trayvion Arrington, 18, has been arrested on a charge of aggravated battery with a firearm, according to spokesman Gary Gross. More
A 23-year-old woman was shot in the chest in Dixieland around 7:09 p.m. Monday in a possible armed robbery, @LakelandPD says. Woman was taken to LRH. No condition released. No name or address or info on victim released. Suspect is being sought. https://t.co/iwhQVSj5zC #lkld
— Lkld Now (@LkldNow) May 7, 2019
SCHOOLS: Hours after the Florida Senate approved a bill allowing public school teachers to carry guns in the classroom, Polk Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd said it won’t be happening here. “The sheriff has not come to me asking to arm any teachers,” she said, adding Polk’s 150 public schools will continue using armed guardians or school resource officers.
RELATED: Sheriff Grady Judd has criticized school districts that decline to arm teachers, saying they are removing a valuable tool to protect children, Fox 13 News reports.
FILM: Check out a showcase of some of Florida Southern College’s best short student films at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Polk Museum of Art.
COUPLE: Before Benny Glass and Jessie Lane opened their Glassroots community farm in Lakeland, they learned about agriculture through a program that offers room and board to people willing to help out at organic farms.
MUSIC: Laura Davis profiles rock musician Michael Ridgway in a new weekly feature called Polk Rising.
Heather Tyler, 28, of Winter Haven, was arrested Friday in what Sheriff Grady Judd called the “cold-blooded” killing of Joseph Wayne Witherington, 21, of Lakeland, in an orange grove near Alturas. Tyler told deputies she shot him in the back of his head with a 9mm handgun Wednesday after he continued driving erratically after she asked him to quit, WKMG ClickOrlando reported.
ALSO: News Channel 8 | The Ledger
The city of Lakeland plans to hire four more school resource officers to ensure someone is providing security against the possibility of a gunman while the officer usually assigned to the school is investigating a crime on campus or is out sick or on vacation.
The city is negotiating with the Polk School Board to pay 75 percent of the officers’ salaries next year, but one city commissioner said he’s afraid the city will end up paying the full amount of what should be a school district obligation. Another commissioner complained this is just another obligation pushed by the state Legislature without providing any funding. More
The body of Joseph Wayne Witherington, 21, of Lakeland, was found this morning in an orange grove off Mud Lake Road in Alturas by grove caretakers, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office reports. Murder is suspected.
“Preliminary investigation reveals that Witherington was killed and left in the grove by an unknown suspect or suspects,” the Sheriff’s Office said in a news release. His body was found at 7:45 a.m. The nearest cross street is 80 Foot Road. More
The suspect in the Feb. 15 killing of 32-year-old Steven Schelmety at Artillery Motor Sports drove from Miami, shot nearly 30 rounds without leaving his pickup truck and drove back, Lakeland police say. The arrest of Juan Alejandro Vargas Diaz, 28, was announced today. No motive has been given. | Ledger coverage
State Attorney Brian Haas told The New York Times that his office has no plans to prosecute the Lawton Chiles Middle Academy sixth-grader who was charged with disrupting school activities after an argument escalated over his refusal to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. But the article also notes that an attorney for the 11-year-old’s family said his mother is unwilling to agree to prosecutors’ offer to place him in a diversion program.
Separately, CNN reports that the child has transferred to a private school and that his family claims he never used the term racist. Police “interjected the word racist to mischaracterize the event,” the family’s attorney said.