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Changing costs of parking at Germain Arena

Sometimes it goes up; sometimes it goes down; sometimes it’s even free.

We’re talking about the fluctuating prices you pay to park at Germain Arena.

Parking on Friday for Cirque du Soleil was $15. When Donald Trump was in town, it was $5.

People looked at the parking fee on Friday, backed up and parked down the road at Miromar Outlets instead.

“I’ll do the little five-minute walk, no problem. I’d rather walk than pay $15,” said Monica Laura. “That makes no sense.”

When Annabel Laura came to Germain Arena on Friday to see a typical youth hockey league match, she didn’t realize the parking fee was so high, so she decided to park elsewhere and walk.

“We never know what price this is going to be… fifteen dollars, five dollars,” she said.

She said she’s paying the price for Cirque du Soleil being in town and believes the price has been pumped up because of how many people are expected to attend.

“It’s price gouging,” she said.

Scott Lockhart is attending the show. He said he understands that it’s business. Patrons had questions after attending the Trump event earlier this month. It was $5 then and tripled for Friday night’s show.

“I can understand why they would need to change; it depends on what act is coming in,” he said.

“Cirque du Soleil is worth more than Donald Trump, so I understand.”

NBC2 spoke to a Germain representative who didn’t want to talk on camera. He said although he didn’t want to justify the price of parking, he said figures are based upon varied factors, including the event and the number of people expected.

“Maybe they are not expecting it to be as full for this event,” Lockhart said.

“A standard price is what should happen,” Annabel Laura said.

The rep said management decides the parking fee and does offer free overflow parking through Miromar Outlets for those who want it.

Several people refused Friday to pay the fee and ended up parking over at the mall.

“If you don’t want to pay for it, you can go over there. I mean it still makes me upset that they do it, I don’t like that.. but they can do it,” Monica Laura said.

Cirque du Soleil runs through Sunday, Oct. 2, at Germain Arena.

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Thieves target mailboxes in Cape Coral community

Thieves were caught on camera stealing from mailboxes at multiple homes in a gated Cape Coral community.

The suspects have not been caught.

Doris Alwine saw the whole thing happen, saying the thieves targeted a handful of mailboxes – but only those with their red flags up.

“I saw someone reach into a mailbox… the car proceeded to all of the mailboxes around our little circle here that had red flags up,” she said.

Eight homes were hit on Destiny Circle in the Celebration Cape community.

“They were after the mail,” Alwine said.

Neighbor Ken Wellborn caught the thefts on camera and gave NBC2 the surveillance video.

“It’s a shame. I mean I didn’t have any mail going out that day. However, I did have mail in my box.”

One of the victims had a check stolen and had to call their bank to cancel it.

Some in the community said they won’t use their mailbox again.

“It was upsetting. We all felt kind of violated. It’s a federal offense, and I hope that law enforcement can catch the people,” said Brad Gripentrog.

“Hopefully with forensics department that came and downloaded the videos they can catch them,” Wellborn said.

Witnesses said the thieves were driving a black SUV.

Celebration Cape usually keeps its gates open during the day but has since decided to keep them closed at all times.

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NBC-2 | WBBH

Thieves target mailboxes in Cape Coral community

Thieves were caught on camera stealing from mailboxes at multiple homes in a gated Cape Coral community.

The suspects have not been caught.

Doris Alwine saw the whole thing happen, saying the thieves targeted a handful of mailboxes – but only those with their red flags up.

“I saw someone reach into a mailbox… the car proceeded to all of the mailboxes around our little circle here that had red flags up,” she said.

Eight homes were hit on Destiny Circle in the Celebration Cape community.

“They were after the mail,” Alwine said.

Neighbor Ken Wellborn caught the thefts on camera and gave NBC2 the surveillance video.

“It’s a shame. I mean I didn’t have any mail going out that day. However, I did have mail in my box.”

One of the victims had a check stolen and had to call their bank to cancel it.

Some in the community said they won’t use their mailbox again.

“It was upsetting. We all felt kind of violated. It’s a federal offense, and I hope that law enforcement can catch the people,” said Brad Gripentrog.

“Hopefully with forensics department that came and downloaded the videos they can catch them,” Wellborn said.

Witnesses said the thieves were driving a black SUV.

Celebration Cape usually keeps its gates open during the day but has since decided to keep them closed at all times.

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NBC-2 | WBBH

What’s the deal with different parking fees at Germain Arena?

Sometimes it goes up; sometimes it goes down; sometimes it’s even free.

We’re talking about the fluctuating prices you pay to park at Germain Arena.

Parking on Friday for Cirque du Soleil was $15. When Donald Trump was in town, it was $5.

People looked at the parking fee on Friday, backed up and parked down the road at Miromar Outlets instead.

“I’ll do the little five-minute walk, no problem. I’d rather walk than pay $15,” said Monica Laura. “That makes no sense.”

When Annabel Laura came to Germain Arena on Friday to see a typical youth hockey league match, she didn’t realize the parking fee was so high, so she decided to park elsewhere and walk.

“We never know what price this is going to be… fifteen dollars, five dollars,” she said.

She said she’s paying the price for Cirque du Soleil being in town and believes the price has been pumped up because of how many people are expected to attend.

“It’s price gouging,” she said.

Scott Lockhart is attending the show. He said he understands that it’s business. Patrons had questions after attending the Trump event earlier this month. It was $5 then and tripled for Friday night’s show.

“I can understand why they would need to change; it depends on what act is coming in,” he said.

“Cirque du Soleil is worth more than Donald Trump, so I understand.”

NBC2 spoke to a Germain representative who didn’t want to talk on camera. He said although he didn’t want to justify the price of parking, he said figures are based upon varied factors, including the event and the number of people expected.

“Maybe they are not expecting it to be as full for this event,” Lockhart said.

“A standard price is what should happen,” Annabel Laura said.

The rep said management decides the parking fee and does offer free overflow parking through Miromar Outlets for those who want it.

Several people refused Friday to pay the fee and ended up parking over at the mall.

“If you don’t want to pay for it, you can go over there. I mean it still makes me upset that they do it, I don’t like that.. but they can do it,” Monica Laura said.

Cirque du Soleil runs through Sunday, Oct. 2, at Germain Arena.

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ABC-7 | WZVN

Fear of clowns no laughing matter

There’s been an uptick in the number of creepy clown sightings across the country and here in Florida, but clown scares aren’t a laughing matter for some.

A lot of people are extremely afraid of them. In fact, there’s a condition called “coulrophobia” – the fear of clowns.

Clowns have been around for a long time, but ABC7 found one child who hadn’t seen a clown before until we showed him a photo.

Two-year-old Blake was not happy about it.

His mother, Christina Zevios was with him at Lakes Park when we showed him a picture.

Mom: That’s scary?
Blake: Yeaaaa.
Mom: Why? Is his nose scary? 
Blake: Yeaaaa.

We showed his reaction to mental health therapist Stacey Brown.

“You can see that he’s trying to process the exaggerated features and even his body got a little stiff,” she pointed out.

She said his fear comes from a clown’s makeup, something he isn’t used to seeing.

“Children pay attention to facial features and when children look at clowns, all of that is really big and it really does have an effect,” Brown said. 

The fear of clowns is something even those who aren’t afraid of them can understand.

“You never know. It could be a real psycho behind that mask. There are a lot of weirdos out there these days,” said Graham Belger, a customer at Halloween Megastore in Fort Myers.

Fear may be what makes clown costumes the most popular at Halloween Megastore. The clown aisle is almost empty come Halloween.

“All different people, from moms to dads,” said Amber LaRosa, store owner.

And kids, too.

It’s all fun and games until someone takes it too far, LaRosa said.

“I don’t think it’s right that you’re standing for a long time on the side of the road and really trying to get a good scare out of little kids,” she said.

Fears that can last a lifetime.

“I really can’t explain this whole clown phenomenon in the woods running around and that sort of thing. I don’t understand that.”

It’s unexplainable and out of line, if you ask Blake’s mom.

“Why do they think it’s funny to scare children?”

To give you an idea of how many people have coulrophobia, more than 400,000 like a Facebook page “I Hate Clowns.”

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El Cajon police release video of fatal officer-involved shooting

CNN — Police in El Cajon, California, on Friday released cell phone and surveillance video that shows the controversial fatal shooting of a man who pointed a vaping device at officers.

The videos show officer Richard Gonsalves firing four shots at Alfred Olango, an unarmed man, who was pointing the cylindrical vape pen at officers earlier this week. A woman can be heard screaming in the cell phone video as the shots are fired.

Officer Josh McDaniel, like Gonsalves an officer for 21 years, deployed his Taser.

A female employee of a fast-food restaurant recorded video on her cell phone, as did a surveillance camera above a drive-through window.

No decision has been made whether to file criminal charges against one or both officers.

“Any criminal conduct being pursued will be some time much later,” San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis told reporters.

Tuesday’s shooting

On Tuesday afternoon, police responded to a 911 call reporting a man in his 30s was behaving “erratically” behind a restaurant.

Once they arrived, Olango kept his hands concealed in his pockets while pacing back and forth, police said.

The man “rapidly drew an object” and placed both hands on it “like you would be holding a firearm,” police Chief Jeff Davis said.

One officer fired his gun at Olango, while a second officer discharged his Taser, police have said. Both are on three-day administrative leave.

The woman who called 911 claimed to be the man’s sister and told the dispatcher he was mentally ill and unarmed, Davis said. Investigators have not been able to confirm whether the caller was Olango’s sister, he said.

Olango’s mother, Pamela Benge, said he was not mentally ill. He was mourning the loss of a friend, she said.

A psychiatric emergency response team was at another call but broke away and attempted to respond to the scene where police eventually faced off with Olango, Davis said Friday. The PERT team didn’t arrive until after the shooting, the chief said.

Still image

Earlier this week, police released a video still showing the incident. Olango appears to be in stance as if ready to shoot, police said.

Officers were not wearing body cameras.

Olango’s death set off demonstrations in the San Diego suburb. Protesters stopped cars and broke windows Thursday night, El Cajon police said. Protesters have called for the investigation into the shooting to be run by the US Department of Justice.

Businesses in downtown El Cajon were advised to close early Friday.

Olango came to the United States in 1991 as a refugee from Uganda.

Vape pens, or e-cigarettes, have been around for more than a decade but have boomed in popularity recently because of marketing to nicotine users looking for a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes. Also fueling the trend is the accessibility of oil concentrates. A vape pen creates an inhalable vapor with a small inner coil that slowly heats, creating a vapor that is inhaled.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2016 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

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Lee school board candidate under fire for alleged racial comments

A Lee County School Board candidate is back in the hot seat after a debate left some questioning if she’s a racist.

This comes after her husband retired from the Lee County Sheriff’s Office over controversial posts he made regarding black people on social media.

Chris Quackenbush is standing by her comments. She said the Black Lives Matter organization is responsible for much of the crime we’re seeing.

She also said she doesn’t see color when she looks at a person. These are comments some call racist and others call ignorant.

“Black Lives Matter is a violent movement, and they are causing a lot of the violence across the nation,” Quackenbush said.

Quackenbush said it’s just some of the problems she has seen in the black community.

“The number of two-parent families in that community need to be worked on.  We need to restore the community for the black community,”  Quackenbush observed.

It’s views like that she expressed during a Thursday night debate.

“I don’t see color when I see a person.  I see a person’s character first,” Quackenbush said.

“People are well-intentioned when they say I don’t see color,” said Patricia Sala.

Patricia Sala was at the debate and said she was offended by the comments.

“That dismisses the challenges or obstacles that children of color in our community face,” Sala explained.

“Well that’s silly because that is exactly who I would like to help most,” Quackenbush replied.

“I had to walk out at that point,” community activist Larry Aguilar said.

Aguilar who also was at the debate said he had heard enough of what he called rhetoric.

“Here you have a person that is openly and outwardly racist in their views and doesn’t even recognize it,” Aguilar said.

Quackenbush said being politically correct is destroying our culture.

“People are taking offense at little things or perceived offenses,” Quackenbush said.

Lee School Board member-elect Chris Patricca who also attended the debate said she was outraged by the comments.

“I don’t know how you could sit on a school board and represent the interest of 56% of the kids who are minorities,” Patricca asked.

“Just because you’re a minority doesn’t’ mean it’s a bad thing,” Tarra Jenner stated.

Jenner also watched the debate, and she still supports Quackenbush.

“She was not referring to black people as being the problem but rather the agenda,” Jenner said.

When asked directly if she was racist, Quackenbush laughed and denied the charges.

“Absolutely not!  That’s the furthest from anything anybody has ever called me in my entire life,” Quackenbush concluded.

She believes it’s a small group of people creating the controversy and trying to keep her from getting elected.

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NBC-2 | WBBH

Lee school board candidate under fire for alleged racial comments

A Lee County School Board candidate is back in the hot seat after a debate left some questioning if she’s a racist.

This comes after her husband retired from the Lee County Sheriff’s Office over controversial posts he made regarding black people on social media.

Chris Quackenbush is standing by her comments. She said the Black Lives Matter organization is responsible for much of the crime we’re seeing.

She also said she doesn’t see color when she looks at a person. These are comments some call racist and others call ignorant.

“Black Lives Matter is a violent movement, and they are causing a lot of the violence across the nation,” Quackenbush said.

Quackenbush said it’s just some of the problems she has seen in the black community.

“The number of two-parent families in that community need to be worked on.  We need to restore the community for the black community,”  Quackenbush observed.

It’s views like that she expressed during a Thursday night debate.

“I don’t see color when I see a person.  I see a person’s character first,” Quackenbush said.

“People are well-intentioned when they say I don’t see color,” said Patricia Sala.

Patricia Sala was at the debate and said she was offended by the comments.

“That dismisses the challenges or obstacles that children of color in our community face,” Sala explained.

“Well that’s silly because that is exactly who I would like to help most,” Quackenbush replied.

“I had to walk out at that point,” community activist Larry Aguilar said.

Aguilar who also was at the debate said he had heard enough of what he called rhetoric.

“Here you have a person that is openly and outwardly racist in their views and doesn’t even recognize it,” Aguilar said.

Quackenbush said being politically correct is destroying our culture.

“People are taking offense at little things or perceived offenses,” Quackenbush said.

Lee School Board member-elect Chris Patricca who also attended the debate said she was outraged by the comments.

“I don’t know how you could sit on a school board and represent the interest of 56% of the kids who are minorities,” Patricca asked.

“Just because you’re a minority doesn’t’ mean it’s a bad thing,” Tarra Jenner stated.

Jenner also watched the debate, and she still supports Quackenbush.

“She was not referring to black people as being the problem but rather the agenda,” Jenner said.

When asked directly if she was racist, Quackenbush laughed and denied the charges.

“Absolutely not!  That’s the furthest from anything anybody has ever called me in my entire life,” Quackenbush concluded.

She believes it’s a small group of people creating the controversy and trying to keep her from getting elected.

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CCSO to assign more patrols following nationwide clown threats

More patrols will be assigned to schools in Charlotte County Friday as a precaution to a clown phenomenon that has spread at schools across the country. 

Although there have been no credible threats to schools in the county, the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office said it will provide the patrols as a precaution. The sheriff’s office is providing additional school patrols because of clown threats made in other states. 

Now, a Lehigh Acres woman has reported she saw a clown on Lee Boulevard near Bell Boulevard.

Most people know if they are or are not a clown person. But the recent threats across the country and reports of a local sighting has everyone second guessing the threat of a man in a mask.

“It surprises me as a person who never liked clowns,” said Mike Riley with the Charlotte County School District. 

Riley doesn’t like clown masks, but the recent threats around the country have led to extra alerts in Southwest Florida. 

“You just have to err on the side of caution when it comes to the safety of the kids,” said Riley. 

There are now extra patrols around Charlotte County along with the school resource officers at each school. 

“You can’t be too cautious when it comes to kids — with shootings [and] this weird clown thing,” said parent Dawn Mohyde. 

Wrinkles the Clown spooked Southwest Florida last year, but a Facebook post shows another scary masked man appeared in Lee County.  

“Some of the ones I’ve seen on video look creepy. I’m sure it’d frighten my grandkids,” said grandparent Jon Embury. 

The sighting in Lehigh Acres happened late Thursday evening. It was not reported to law enforcement, but did stir up attention on social media.

“Clowns, in general, are just freaky. A man dressed like a clown to make kids happy is just freaky to me,” said Mohyde. 

No matter your take on the idea, law enforcement across the U.S. – including Charlotte County – are committed to taking clowns seriously. 

“I think they should take all threats seriously. It’s a strange world out there,” said Embury. 

So far, there has been no report of any threats in Charlotte County. The deputy response was a precaution. Other sheriff’s office around the state and country are reminding everyone even pranks will be taken very seriously. 

The Lehigh Clown sighting comes after a series of them across the country. 

A teen in New Jersey said a clown dressed in green and yellow wearing a white mask ran after him with a sword.

In Arizona, the counter-terrorism unit is investigating after a series of scary clown threats targeting a dozen schools. 3,000 students in the district didn’t show up for classes. 

In Georgia, a woman called 911 in tears to report a clown running around a Walmart scaring women. 

ABC7 talked to parents and mental health therapists about the impact of clown scares.

“Clowns have been around for a really long time. The research is indicating that most people really don’t like clowns,” said Stacey Brown, a mental health therapist.

We showed a toddler a photo of a clown for the first time. Two-year-old Blake didn’t say much. But by his body language, you could tell he didn’t like the clown. 

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SWFL beach visitors get whiff of red tide as tests ongoing

It’s all sun and sand on Sanibel’s Lighthouse Beach.

“Long weekend,” said Dan Tarczon of Chicago. “We haven’t been on vacation in about a year.”

Tarczon and his girlfriend, Marianne Kyler, had to cut their trip to Siesta Key short and head south.

“It was really weird. We just saw a bunch of fish. Every kind imaginable just washing up on shore.”

They experienced a similar scene of what’s happening in Charlotte County – red tide, dead fish, and the physical effects.

“Him and I started sneezing and had an itchy throat,”  Kyler said.

At Sanibel Sea School, Dr. Bruce Neill said those are the classic signs. His group monitors Lighthouse Beach. So far, so good, he said Friday. 

“We want the ocean to be simple. Turns out it’s not,” he said. “It’s a very, very complex thing.”  

Data that the public gets can be dated. Neill said it’s hard to track a tidal bloom, but it’s the most reliable at hand.

Neill points out that we tend to assume red tide blooms pop up and then fade away time and time again. When in reality, it is an entire body of water that is constantly moving in and out of an area.

Up north, MOTE Marine Laboratory uses a drone sailboat and underwater tools to track red tide. They brought it back south in June.

“It didn’t pick up the Florida red tide algae, but it is a unique and cool system we use to gather more information,” said spokesperson Kaitlyn Fusco.

Their data now shows red tide is evident up north, something Dan and Marianne are well aware of.

“It would’ve been great to know ahead of time if you are planning a trip that this is red tide season,” Kyler said.

MOTE is working on developing an app that will help you track tidal blooms quickly and accurately. There is no release date yet.

Neill said you want to stay away from eating shellfish in tidal bloom areas, but restaurants are okay.