2007-01-24 / Community

News Around Us

Bainbridge - A local man is being held in connection with a Friday, January 12th shooting death of a Florida Highway Patrol trooper during a traffic stop, according to a news release.

Tw e n t y - o n e - y e a r- o l d Quintin Jerome Kinder of Attapugus is being held in Highlands County, Florida, on only a trespassing charge after he allegedly fled into an orange grove after Sgt. Nicholas Sottile stopped the car he was a passenger in. However, he is also being held without bond.

The driver, 19-year-old Joshua Lee Altersberger, of Sebring, FL, is charged with first degree murder after allegedly shooting Sottile in the chest after the trooper called for back-up during the traffic stop on U.S. 27 near Lake Placid, FL.

Altersberger also fled the scene. A massive search for the suspects was launched by police officers representing 25 state, federal and local agencies, leading to Altersberger's arrest at his home in Sebring early Saturday. Kinder surrendered to a search team member soon after.

Sottile, a 24-year veteran of the FHP, was air-lifted to a Lake Placid, FLhospital, where he died.

According to the Decatur County Jail, Kinder was arrested seven times by local law enforcement between 2003-2005.

Dawson - Arson of county dumpsters continues to be a problem in Terrell County with two separate fires reported at rural dumpster sites on Monday of this week.

According to Terrell Solid Waste Supervisor Martha Ann Coe, there have been 13 fires at dumpsters since mid-December.

Damages have varied from fire to fire and from location to location, but Mrs. Coe reported that two dumpsters have been totally destroyed and several others have received extensive damage.

The arson fires have taken place at five different locations in the county. Some of the fires have occurred multiple times at the same locations.

Blountstown - An ordinary trip to the car wash turned tragic last Thursday when a toddler lost her life in a freak accident.

According to the Blountstown Police Department, G e m a r i e l B r o w n , 1 8 , stopped by the 87 Depot gas station (formerly Shell) on Central Avenue West just after 2:00 p.m. As she vacuumed out her vehicle, her 18-month-old daughter, Jaharra Brown, slipped away to the automatic car wash just 35 feet from their vehicle. A woman and her four-year-old were running their vehicle through the car wash at the time, and the child looked down to see Jaharra in the machine. The preschooler alerted his mother who began screaming for help.

The first official on the scene was Blountstown Fire Chief Ben Hall.

"That's the worst thing I've seen in eight year," Chief Hall told The County Record. "You don't expect something like that, and there's no way to prepare yourself for it. You see a child laying there with that type of injury, and it sets you back a bit. But in that same split second, you flip into emergency mode."

As Chief Hall secured the area, Chad Dees, a firefighter EMT arrived at the scene and began taking vitals and trying to stabilize the child who was unconscious.

Jaharra was taken via helicopter to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital where she died a short time later.

Officers with the Blountstown Police Department arrived on the scene and began their investigation. No charges have been filed in the case.

Donalsonville - Shortly after 3:00 p.m. Friday, January 12, 2007, Donalsonville Police Lee Owens and Michael Logue responded to a call to 1st Street to an old office building owned by Clover Leaf Gin Company, where the body of Leopaldo Zuniga Torress was found. Officials speculate Torress had been dead about eight hours and that he had died of an apparent gun shot wound.

At the start, no one knew the name, age or identification of the victim of what appeared to be a gun shot wound. When a news reporter asked, nobody knew who had placed yards and yards of crime scene tape around the office building.

The peanut company building had not been used for months. It was later learned that the building was used as apartments for at least four employees of Clover Leaf Gin, the owner of the building, had been living there while improvements to the building were being made.

It had been unofficially assumed that Torres lived in the apartment of First Street with the other men, but this turned out not to be true.

Torress had been working at Clover Leaf for several months, his age and other details are still unknown.

Officers have arrested Erminio V. Zunum, 22, who is being held in the county jail charged with malice murder. The victim, Torress, did not reside in the apartment, but lived at 741 Billy Cherry Road in Pansey, AL. One report says Zunum and four other Hispanics had been living in the old office building for the past four months while working on cotton ginning at Clover Leaf.

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