1. NWS: EF2 tornado touched down in Cape Coral
Gov. Rick Scott on Sunday, January 10, toured Cape Coral, where an estimated $5.5 million in damage had been left behind from that Saturday’s tornado.
The National Weather Service estimated the EF-2 tornado had maximum winds of 132 mph, causing significant damage to a large portion of the southwestern Cape when it touched down around 6:45 p.m.
According to the NWS preliminary report, the tornado lasted just seven minutes and was on the ground for 3.4 miles. It damaged 178 structures, destroying one home and leaving 14 with major damage. More than 100 power poles were knocked down.
2. Collier County walloped by latest line of storms
Cleanup across Collier is the priority of the day after the National Weather Service confirmed on January 17, that damage was caused by straight-line winds similar to an EF-1 tornado.
Many in Golden Gate said the storm sounded and felt like a twister as it rolled through.
Trees, branches, and debris remain scattered across 25th Place SW and power crews said they’ll have to rewire most of the neighborhood because fallen trees took down several lines with them.
3. Good Samaritan shoots, kills suspect attacking deputy
A Good Samaritan with a concealed carry permit shot a man who was attacking a Lee County deputy on an I-75 off-ramp November 14.
Witnesses who say they saw the whole thing happen told us a deputy tried to pull over a man near the Corkscrew exit.
The suspect took off in his vehicle, reaching speeds up to 100 miles per hour. Eventually, the driver got out of his car on an off-ramp and attacked the deputy.
That’s when witnesses say a third person came over and shot the suspect, who later died.
4. Human trafficking at core of S. Fort Myers HS sex scandal
A community firestorm erupted after hearing of a 15-year-old girl having sex with boys in the bathroom at South Fort Myers High School in May.
The Lee County Sheriff’s Office is even involved after images of the sex acts ended up on social media. (Update: A 16-year-old student was arrested Friday and faces several charges in the case.)
A lot of people have commented and shared the story, many casting judgment about the young girl.
Her mother reached out asking us to tell her story and set the record straight.
5. Hurricane Matthew: NBC2 on Florida’s east coast as damage assessed
NBC2 had a team of reporters along Florida’s upper east coast on Friday as Hurricane Matthew, a Category 4 storm, moved up the coast.
From Daytona Beach on down to Clewiston, more than 1 million people were without power. Cities were boarded up and shut down and curfews were enacted as the hurricane approached.
6. Fort Myers Club Blu shooting
Two teenagers died in late July in a nightclub shooting that left at least 18 others injured in Fort Myers.
The deceased victims were identified as 18-year-old Stef’an Strawder and 14-year-old Sean Archilles.
The two were at Club Blu late Sunday for a teen party when the shooting occurred.
A suspect tied to the shooting was arrested in September on drug charges.
7. Confirmed tornado strikes parts of Charlotte County
Multiple light poles knocked over, metal girder in a tree, and part of the SunTrust building’s roof in a median down the street in late February.
Such was the aftermath near Murdock Circle in Port Charlotte after significant storms rolled in off the Gulf of Mexico and wreaked havoc across several parts of Charlotte County.
The National Weather Service confirmed two tornado touchdowns during the midday tumult, and Charlotte County Fire and EMS officials said there were two main areas of damage — one in the Deep Creek area of Punta Gorda and the second near US-41 and Murdock Circle.
8. New federal requirements for food stamp benefits
The unemployment rate in Florida is down, and that means some people on food stamps face new requirements to keep those benefits. The change impacts thousands of people in Lee County.
Florida received an exemption in 2009 from federal requirements that required people receiving snap benefits to engage in work-related activities. That exemption ended on January 1, and now, all able-bodied adults without kids will have to do some work to receive assistance.
9. 3 dead, including gunman, in Cape Coral shooting spree
Three people died, including the gunman, after a shooting spree in Cape Coral in early June.
The Cape Coral Police Department held a news conference to detail the deadly rampage. When asked if it was a random or planned shooting spree, Sgt. Dana Coston said that remains under investigation.
The spree spanned across three scenes – one in which witnesses said they saw 10 to 12 police cars drive down Skyline Boulevard. Seconds later, they heard between 50 and 60 shots.
10. Million-dollar drug operation busted in Bonita Springs
An 8-month investigation into a large-scale drug trafficking operation ended Thursday with seven arrests, seven vehicles impounded and more than a million dollars worth of drugs taken off the streets, according to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.
Erick Nunez-Nino, the alleged leader of the organization, was taken into custody along with Enrique Elvira-Gonzalez and other suspects the sheriff’s office considers “lower-level subjects.”
Investigators said Elvira-Gonzalez and Nunez-Nino would handle the acquisition and distribution of the drugs but would not get involved in minimal transactions, having other people act for them.