Reward increased to $15K for info on fatal shooting of Orlando high school student: Alejandro Vargas Martinez, a 15-year-old Boone High School student, was gunned down around 6:41 a.m. on Dec. 18 while he was walking to school along Waldo Street near East Kaley Avenue. Orange County Sheriff's Office deputies found Alejandro lying on the street and treated him at the scene, but he later died at the hospital. A day after Alejandro's death, Crimeline offered $10,000 for information leading to an arrest in the case. The Sheriff's Office has also released surveillance video showing a "vehicle of interest" in the teenager's killing. People with information are asked to call Crimeline at 1-800-423-8477.
John Morgan says he'll raise entry-level pay for his employees to $15 an hour: Orlando attorney John Morgan announced last month that he will increase the starting pay at his law firm, Morgan & Morgan, to $15 an hour in 2019. In a companywide memo, he wrote, "This will be an additional cost of millions of dollars to the firm. We think it is worth it. More importantly we think you're worth it." Morgan was criticized by Orlando Weekly last year for pledging $1 million to raising Florida's minimum wage to $15 per hour but not paying his own employees at that rate. Job postings on the sites Indeed and Glassdoor showed entry-level positions starting at $11 and $12 an hour, months after announcing his "Living Wage" campaign.
The number of sex offenders living in Florida is on the rise, and most live in Orange County: The number of registered sex offenders and predators living in Florida is on the rise, with 28,548 sex offenders and predators calling the Sunshine State home as of October 2018, according to a new state report. That's a 53 percent increase since 2005, when the state started reviewing its registry. The December report released by the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability says Orange County has the highest number of resident registered sex offenders and predators in the state at 2,299, followed closely by Duval (2,108) and Hillsborough (1,823). In 2017, the Orlando Sentinel reported the greater Orlando area ranked third in the U.S. for the number of reports to the national human trafficking hotline.
Pulse first responder Omar Delgado is finally granted disability benefits: Former Eatonville Police Cpl. Omar Delgado, who has struggled with severe post-traumatic stress disorder since the 2016 Pulse shooting, was granted benefits Thursday after a vote in favor of the motion from the Eatonville Police Pension Board. Last year, the pension board denied Delgado his benefits because "medical records 'failed to establish by the greater weight of the evidence' that Delgado was permanently disabled." Delgado was one of the first officers to respond to the mass shooting at the gay nightclub on June 12, 2016. He was hailed as a hero for entering Pulse as a gunman killed 49 people and saving the life of survivor Angel Colón. Months after Pulse, Delgado said he had constant nightmares about what happened inside the club and was triggered by certain sights and sounds. After being put on light desk duty, the former corporal said his superior officer told him he was being let go in December 2017 because of Delgado's "emotional disturbed state and PTSD."
New bill would ban smoking on Florida beaches: Sarasota House Republican Joe Gruters wants to outlaw smoking on all public beaches through a newly introduced bill, SB 218, which would fine first-time violators $25 or 10 hours of community service. In 2017, a law that was in place for five years that banned smoking in Sarasota County public parks and beaches was tossed by a judge who declared it unconstitutional on the grounds that local jurisdictions couldn't ban something that was legal on a state level. Civil rights leaders, predominantly the ACLU of Florida, argued that the law selectively targeted homeless people.