JSO employee arrested in NC on cocaine trafficking charges

A Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office employee was arrested Tuesday in North Carolina on trafficking in cocaine charges.

Tynesha Jenkins, a civilian employee in the JSO Communications Center, was booked into jail in Charlotte, North Carolina.

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Jenkins, 25, and another woman arrived on a flight from Montego Bay Jamaica at the Charlotte-Douglas International Airport and were flagged for a second inspection.

During the inspection, CBP officers said they examined the women’s bags and discovered a white, powdery substance in the bottom of their luggage.

The substance field-tested positive for cocaine, CBP said.

News4Jax has asked JSO for comment.

Teen found guilty in 2015 murder of store clerk

After nearly four hours of deliberations, a St. Johns County jury on Thursday convicted a 17-year-old of first-degree murder in the shooting death of a St. Augustine store clerk during a 2015 robbery.

The jury also found Sergio Morgan-Wideman guilty of one count of robbery with a firearm and two counts of aggravated assault with a firearm.

Morgan-Wideman faces life in prison with parole. He could face life in prison when he is sentenced on May 24.

Video of St. Augustine clerk’s shooting shown to jury

On the second day of testimony in the three-day trial, prosecutors said Wednesday that Morgan-Wideman was caught on tape shortly after he was arrested, talking to a second suspect in the back of a patrol car about the shooting.

The recording of Sergio Morgan-Wideman and Andre Robinson was played for the jury that is hearing the trial against Morgan-Wideman, who is charged with the murder of 29-year-old Malav Desai. Robinson will be tried separately.

The two led law enforcement on a multi-county high-speed chase after the deadly robbery at the Tobacco and Beverage Express, police said.

Authorities said Robinson, 18, was behind the wheel and Morgan-Wideman was a passenger in the getaway SUV, which was stolen from Daytona Beach a few days earlier.

Deputies put out stop sticks three times during the chase in an effort to flatten the tire of the fleeing vehicle, but the SUV avoided them.

At times, the SUV swerved onto the wrong side of the road. As the pursuit approached a more populated area, a Clay County deputy intentionally struck the fleeing vehicle to disable it.

Deputies quickly took the teenagers into custody. They were not injured in the crash.

The two were put alone into the back of a patrol car and were unknowingly recorded talking about the crime, prosecutors said.

In the recording, Morgan-Wideman can be heard talking about a gun, gunpowder and clothing. The conversation is hard to understand, but the jury members were handed transcripts to help them follow along.

“No witness, but they got a witness. You know what I’m saying. (indiscernible) No gun,” he says. “All they got is gunpowder on my hand. I was (indiscernible). They got the hat and the shirt, but you feel me, that’s just a hat and a shirt. The camera wasn’t in color.”

The camera he’s talking about is the store’s surveillance camera, which actually is in color and captured the deadly robbery.

That video was shown to the jury Tuesday. In it, the robber can be seen pointing a gun at Desai and saying, “I want it all. Hurry up. I’m not playing.” The clerk complies, but the robber fires one shot at him and runs out of the store.

Desai was shot once in the forehead and died at the scene. Court documents say Morgan-Wideman got away with $600.

The video clearly showed the watch that the robber was wearing and the bag he told the clerk to put the money in.

The jurors were shown clothes Wednesday that police said were confiscated from Morgan-Wideman after the chase.

A forensic scientist testified that gunshot residue was found on the clothes and a handkerchief, which prosecutors said matched what the robber was wearing in the surveillance video.

Records show that eyewitnesses who were in the store that day identified Morgan-Wideman to police as the gunman. In a taped audio interview, an eyewitness told detectives that Morgan-Wideman had the money and then still decided to shoot to kill.

Morgan-Wideman’s family was in court Wednesday but declined to comment. Desai’s widow, who has moved to India, had hoped to attend the trial but became ill when she returned to the United States.

Robinson’s trial date has not been set.

Florida woman takes last known photo with officer killed in London attack

A South Florida woman posed for what is believed to be the last photograph of a London police officer before he was killed in a terror attack outside Parliament.

Wellington resident Staci Martin was vacationing with her family in London during Wednesday’s attack, which killed four people and the assailant.

Martin said on Facebook that she was walking past Parliament at 1:52 p.m. when she saw a police officer standing outside.

“I liked his funny hat so I asked him if he would take a picture with me,” she wrote. “He obliged. He was very polite.”

Less than an hour later, he was dead.

A man, identified by police as Khalid Masood, drove his car into crowds on Westminster Bridge before fatally stabbing a police officer on Parliament grounds. Masood was shot dead by police.

The officer killed was identified as Keith Palmer, who had posed for a photo with Martin shortly before the attack.

An American man from Utah, a British retiree and a British school administrator were also killed on the bridge.

More than 50 people of a dozen nationalities were wounded in the attack, 31 of whom required hospital treatment.

Martin and her family were not hurt.

As Bryceville residents return, firefighters warn of flare-ups

Florida Forestry officials said Friday that the 700-acre fire that forced 150 residents from their homes in western Nassau County is 75 percent contained Friday. Forestry officials said there is a 20-acre patch of unburned fuel inside the fire line west of County Road 121 and Cortez that is still causing concern and urged residents returning to the area to call 911 if they see any flair-ups.

The evacuation order that forced residents from their homes overnight was lifted Thursday afternoon as state and local crews continued to battle the wildfire that destroyed two homes, damaged eight others and burned 19 barns, sheds or other structures.

Neighbors told fire officials Friday morning that they saw glowing embers overnight.

Nassau County and Florida Forestry officials said County Road 121 had reopened, but County Road 119 would remain closed as firefighting and recovery efforts continued.

UNCUT: 11 a.m. Friday Forest Service, Nassau County briefing
WATCH: Sky 4 surveys nearly 700 acres burned | Aerial footage

While two homes were destroyed and eight others were damaged, most residents returned to find their homes intact.

“The main thing is your family, we have some small dogs and stuff like that and of course we loaded them up and took them with us. Property can be rebuilt. You can buy material things but it’s the things you can’t replace,” said resident Eric Yates.

Florida Forest Service employees continued cutting a 40- to 50-foot perimeter around the two-mile and half-mile area that burned, putting out hot spots and wetting down the immediate area around all remaining structures.

“The spread is contained at this point, and they’re improving those (fire) lines,” said Annaleasa Winter of the Florida Forest Service. “There’s still a chance that one of those embers could get away from us. There’s still a lot of work to do.”

Winters said containment remained at 65 percent as of early Thursday evening, but that firefighters were hoping to reach 100 percent by the end of the weekend. Officials said that overcast skies, higher humidity and winds that did gust as strongly as forecast Thursday all worked to the advantage of firefighters.

There were two spot-over fires that broke out Thursday, but they were knocked down quickly, Winter said.

Several engineers and seven to eight bulldozers will be on standby Thursday night for spot-overs.

The emergency shelter at Bryceville First Baptist Church will remain open while people return to their property to determine if the homes can be occupied. Nassau County Emergency Management officials said that even when residents return, firefighters will be involved in mop-up operations, and utility workers will be working in the area for the next few days.

WATCH: Red Cross helping families displaced by wildfire

Despite challenges, firefighters lose only 2 homes

Nearly 200 first responders from at least seven six agencies — firefighters from Nassau County, Clay and St. Johns counties, Jacksonville police and firefighters, the Florida Highway Patrol and Florida Forest Service — spent Wednesday night and Thursday morning battling the blaze.

Nassau County Fire Battalion Chief Mike Eddins said some firefighters had suffered minor injuries — one briefly hospitalized for a sprain — but nothing significant.

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Firefighters trying to save one home had to take cover when ammunition stored inside was set off.

“It was partially engulfed at that time,” Florida Highway Patrol Sgt. Dylan Bryan said. “Ammunition and bullets started to fire due to the intense heat, which created a serious hazard for first responders in the area and other residents in the area.”

Despite losing some property, Eddins said more than 100 structures in the evacuation were saved in the largest and most destructive wildfire the county has seen since 1998.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve had this severe and this intense of a wildfire moving that quickly through the area,” Winter said.

PHOTOS: Wildfire burns in Nassau County

Small fire becomes community tragedy

Forestry officials said the fire was started about 2 p.m. by a man who was burning paperback books on Wills Lane near Garfield Road, where some of the homes were lost, officials said. According to a woman’s 911 call, they were burning boxes after recently moving into the home.

Winter said that family was cited for violating a state statute banning burning of household waste, and they will receive a “hefty” bill for the cost of fighting the fire. They could also be fined and be sued by homeowners for the loss of their homes and property.

“This was not malicious intent,” Winter said. “They feel absolutely devastated; very remorseful,”

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“I don’t think hating that person is going to help anything. He thought he could burn some stuff, and it got out of hand,” said Jessica Fouraker, who was forced to evacuate her home near DB Hicks Road. “The best I can do is to pray for him and his family and the journey they have from there.”

ONLINE: Frequently asked insurance questions about wildfires

As the fire began to spread Thursday afternoon, officials shut down County Road 121 from DB Hicks Road to Wills Lane. Drivers were urged to avoid the area as first responders attempted to contain the fire.

Lines placed around the fire off Wills Lane and Country Road 121 seemed to be helping fire crews get it under control. But the fire continued to move southeast in the county, and first responders from counties throughout Northeast Florida — including Duval, Clay and St. Johns — were called to help Nassau County firefighters protect homes.

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Nassau County Emergency Management Director Billy Estep described the forest fire as a “tragedy,” stressing that the changing weather conditions and winds were significant factors in the fire rapidly spreading from five acres to nearly seven hundred acres — an area about a half-mile wide by two miles long.

Just before 5 p.m., residents in the vicinity of County Road 121 and County Road 119 by Dewey’s Place were ordered to evacuate. About an hour later, Nassau County Emergency Management said winds had driven the wildfire toward Countryside Acres, and residents in that area were also told to evacuate immediately.

A man who lives in a home on County Road 119 said that within two minutes of getting home from work, firefighters pulled up and told the family to get out before the flames destroyed their house.

UNCUT: Bryceville resident describes fire, evacuation

“By the time we were pulling stuff out of the house into the trucks, the fire was already taking out (the) gazebo, taking out the pool deck. It was already in the backyard,” evacuee Randy Hoke said. “They’re not going to get this under control tonight.”

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Nassau County resident James Allen told News4Jax that his friend’s home may have been lost in the wildfire.

“We believe his place may have burnt down there. I pray to the Lord that it hasn’t,” Allen said. “I hope everybody down there is alright.”

Eddins said it was a blessing that Nassau County schools are on spring break and many residents were already out of the area.

Despite being evacuated from their homes, several Nassau County residents jumped in to help first responders, bringing snacks and water to provide support for their tight-knit community.

Nassau County set up a hotline for people to get information on shelters and other needs. The number to call is 904-548-0900.