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Three sheds destroyed by blaze possibly sparked by fireworks

Firefighters put out a blaze that destroyed three sheds Thursday night. Officials say the fire may have been started by fireworks. 

It happened in the 200 block of Kingston Drive in Fort Myers at 10:21 p.m. 

According to Tice Fire Department officials, neighbors said they heard people setting off fireworks. 

Neighbors said they then saw a shed on fire. It appears a firework landed on the roof of a shed.

The fire quickly spread to two other sheds. They were completely destroyed, but no homes were damaged. 

We’re told neighbors helped put the fire out by using fire extinguishers. 

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NYE fireworks launching venue changes in Naples

Launching New Year’s Eve fireworks from the pier is a tradition in the City of Naples. But this year, fireworks lit up the sky from a different venue. 

For Carla Wallace counting down the New Year at the Naples Pier is a family tradition. 

“You have the snow, you could go polar plunging. Or you could watch the fireworks with your feet in the sand,” said visitor Carla Wallace. 

For the first time, the City of Naples changed one of its oldest traditions — launching New Year’s Eve fireworks from a barge instead of the pier. 

The fireworks were shot from the barge to protect the newly renovated pier. People watching the display think it’s a good idea. 

“The fallout from the fireworks can fall on people, and so I think it will probably be safer,” said Wallace. 

“I think that’s cool because maybe that’s less of a fire risk,” said visitor Rock Sharon. 

The fire department was out on the water stopping boats from getting too close to the barge and pier. 

“As my kids have aged, this whole thing has aged,” said Wallace. 

It’s a change form the old, but Wallace welcomes it like the new year. 

The fire chief said if everything goes well the barge may be used again to set off fireworks in the future.

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Coast Guard responding to possible boat fire on Fort Myers Beach

U.S. Coast Guard crews are responding to a report of a boat fire at Salty Sam’s Marina on Fort Myers Beach. 

Count on us to bring you updates. 

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FMPD releases body cam video of controversial arrest

After days of persistent requests, Fort Myers Police released body camera footage of a controversial arrest. 

The man being arrested in the video claims he was sodomized by police in broad daylight as they searched his body for drugs.

Another man claims the same thing happened to him in October.

Fort Myers Interim Police Chief Dennis Eads and Mayor Randy Henderson say the officers did nothing wrong. 

“Let the jail take care of it, he can get additional charges” one officer said. “He’s got a pocket in the pants. There’s a pocket right there, cut it, cut it with a freaking knife” said another officer.

In the video, you can see officers search his shorts — but you never see evidence of sodomy.

“If we have bad police officers, I am confident that Chief Eads is going to deal with it, and he’ll deal with it in way that are appropriate,” said Henderson.

Recently, we’ve also reported about another arrest involving Officer Arturo Gonzalez.

A man claims Gonzalez tried to force him into a car with drugs.

We got a hold of Gonzalez’s personnel’s file.

Aside from a single unfounded harassment complaint, Gonzalez has a clean record. His record says he has been with the agency since 1996

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NBC-2 | WBBH

FMPD releases body cam video of controversial arrest

After days of persistent requests, Fort Myers Police released body camera footage of a controversial arrest. 

The man being arrested in the video claims he was sodomized by police in broad daylight as they searched his body for drugs.

Another man claims the same thing happened to him in October.

– Using our app? CLICK HERE to watch video

Fort Myers Interim Police Chief Dennis Eads and Mayor Randy Henderson say the officers did nothing wrong. 

“Let the jail take care of it, he can get additional charges” one officer said. “He’s got a pocket in the pants. There’s a pocket right there, cut it, cut it with a freaking knife” said another officer.

In the video, you can see officers search his shorts — but you never see evidence of sodomy.

“If we have bad police officers, I am confident that Chief Eads is going to deal with it, and he’ll deal with it in way that are appropriate,” said Henderson.

Recently, we’ve also reported about another arrest involving Officer Arturo Gonzalez.

A man claims Gonzalez tried to force him into a car with drugs.

We got a hold of Gonzalez’s personnel’s file.

Aside from a single unfounded harassment complaint, Gonzalez has a clean record. His record says he has been with the agency since 1996

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FGCU men snap 3-game skid, beat La Salle 88-77

The FGCU men’s basketball team snapped their three-game losing streak with an 88-77 win over La Salle (4-6). The meeting was between two teams who shocked college basketball three seasons ago when La Salle and FGCU advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 as 13 and 15-seeds, respectively.

The Eagles (7-7) were led by redshirt senior Julian DeBose with a season-high 20 points on 8-of-16 shooting, including 4-of-7 from three-point range. DeBose was one of five FGCU players in double digits scoring.

The 88 points marked the first time the Eagles hit over 80 points in regulation against a Division 1 opponent this season.

La Salle dropped their fifth-straight game.

FGCU hosts two tune-up games (Saturday vs. Eckard, 4pm, Tuesday vs. Webber International, 7pm) before opening up conference play against Stetson on Saturday, January 9th at 7pm in Alico Arena.

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Police recreate Christmas for Naples child faced with tragedy

A Naples family was heartbroken when a loved one died in Livermore, California on Dec. 25, leaving a 6-year-old child with no mother and no Christmas.

So the local police department decided to step in.

“It’s still in my head, my mom calling me telling me,” a tearful Chloe Mansib said, when she found out her sister, Angel Alves, was found unresponsive.

Alves later died from complications from diabetes and her family said Alves’ daughter, Karma, was taken into protective custody by the state of California.

“Karma was born and raised here in Naples and my sister wanted to show her where she was from and that’s where my sister’s heart was,” Mansib said.

The child’s grandmother is in California and is trying to sort out custody issues. In the meantime an online fundraiser organized by the officers who responded to the tragedy has amassed more than $28,000 to cover funeral costs and other expenses. And that’s not all.

“First thing she said was Santa didn’t come this year because mommy wouldn’t wake up, so that’s just what kills me,” Mansib said.

Livermore police officer Dave Morris said it struck a chord with him, too, after he found the child in a nearly empty motel room. He organized gifts for the girl and a video posted by the department shows officers carrying gifts to Karma on Dec. 26.

“Santa contacted us, we found the room and brought you your stuff,” Morris said in the video.

He recounted the moment he told Karma what was happening.

“She just looked at me and she said, ‘I’m so excited,’ and that was it. She sat there and opened those gifts for over an hour,” Morris said.

Child Protective Services in California would not comment on Karma’s case, so it’s unclear what the next step for the child is.

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Deputies press for answers after two shootouts, no arrests

Over three days in Southwest Florida, two road rage incidents resulted in shootouts.

No one was hurt in either case, but no one has been arrested either.

The first incident occurred Sunday night in Fort Myers near Colonial Blvd and I-75. The second was two days later in Punta Gorda at the intersection of Burnt Store Rd and Doredo Drive.

Law enforcement officials involved in both cases say the issue is a lack of witnesses.

“We don’t have any independent witnesses. Who did what first? Who did what second? What happened?” said Sgt. Terry Cochran, of the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Unit.

Cochran said deputies searched the Punta Gorda area for someone who might have seen what happened, but came up empty. Both men involved called 911 to report the incident, but their statements conflict.

“When it’s just he said/she said it’s very hard to determine without any other evidence who did what,” he said.

FGCU criminal justice professor Pamella Seay says it’s doubtful law enforcement will ever get all the answers.

“Probably you’re not going to find that out,” she said.

Seay, who also practices law in Southwest Florida, says the sheriff’s office is likely trying to put together an airtight case.

“My guess is the sheriff’s office is looking at that very clearly and making sure that they have all their ducks in a row so that when they do arrest them they’re not going anywhere else,” she said.

Cochran says his office needs probable cause to arrest someone. In this case, he says there’s no doubt one person was trying to inflict harm on another but how it all happened is another story.

“It is harmful, but you have to remember in the state of Florida we have a right to protect ourselves,” he said.

The Fort Myers Police Department, in a statement, said, “Victims and witnesses are not cooperating and have signed complaint withdrawals. Because of that there is no viable suspect information. Furthermore, we did not witness the offense. Had we it would be totally different situation.”

The Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office insisted the the shootout is still under investigation and arrests are possible.

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Attorney: Mountain of Sievers info may equal molehill that’s admissible

The Teresa Sievers murder case has gripped Southwest Florida for months and yielded nearly 30,000 pages of investigative evidence.

But a local defense attorney says there’s a good chance that at least a large chunk of that information will never reach a courtroom.

For example: A chilling meme posted to Jimmy Rodgers’ Facebook page days before the Bonita Springs doctor was found bludgeoned to death, reading “ONE FREE MURDER.”

It’s titillating, but it may be little else.

“It’s great for headlines,” said Lance Dunford. “But regarding whether it’s admissible in front of a jury, likely not.”

Dunford says posts made by Rodgers, which include another with a bloody ax and the quote, “The average person walks past a murderer 36 times in life,” would likely not be allowed in court either.

“Character evidence is generally not admissible in criminal cases,” he said.

Examples of evidence that would be allowed are statements from Rodgers’ girlfriend in which she said “I asked Jimmy what he went down to Florida for, and he said to make money.

“I then asked him how he is going to make that money, and he said it was for murdering Mark’s wife.”

She was later quoted saying Mark Sievers hired Curtis Wayne Wright to kill Teresa Sievers, and Wright hired Rodgers.

“The things certainly that Jimmy told her in a trial against Jimmy would be admissible,” Dunford said. “Now, in a trial or prosecution against Mark, there’s some hearsay issues there.”

That’s one reason, Dunford said, that Mark Sievers hasn’t been arrested even though investigators believe he helped plan the whole thing.

“We have a lot of circumstantial evidence floating around that many might believe implicates Mark,” Dunford said. “But we haven’t even seen an arrest yet, and he’s still with his kids.”

Rodgers is in federal custody in Illinois for a gun-related probation violation. His release isn’t expected until February, at which point he’d likely be extradited to Florida.

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Hendry Co. leaders pushing to combat animal cruelty in 2016

It was a bad year for animal-related crimes in Hendry County. 

On Wednesday night, 75-year-old James Herrmann was arrested and charged with animal cruelty after animal control witnessed several dogs on his property fighting. The dogs were malnourished and in poor condition. 

We pressed county commissioners about their plans to help prevent animal cruelty in 2016. 

Hendry County commissioners say this will be their focus. They’ll be working with shelters and creating ordinances that better protect animals. 

The repeated images of animal abuse in Hendry County are difficult to see. For County Commissioner Karson Turner, it’s gone too far. 

“2016, there will be some tangible steps taken that will make sure the animals in Hendry County are in a better situation,” said Turner. 

In 2015, animal control busted two puppy mills and one cockfighting ring. They rescued 13 bait dogs used for dog fighting and responded to dozens of animal neglect and hoarding calls. 

“I need help from the county, from the city, from the community, from everybody,” said animal control officer Tammy Henry. 

The county says in 2016 they plan to add ordinances to make sure animals are protected, and those violating them are punished. 

“Hopefully, we can get some ordinances in place that if you’re going to be breeding animals in the county and you have to have guidelines,” said Henry.  

“From a policy standpoint, what we realize is that we don’t have some of the tools in the toolbox,” said Turner. 

It’s something Turner says will change in the upcoming year. 

“We are going to crack down,” said Henry. 

The first meeting is January 12th. County commissioners will discuss the new ordinances.