August 28, 2015
A Century man has been sentenced for placing a gun to forehead of a mentally disabled woman and threatening to kill her.
John Andrew McClain, 45, was originally charged with aggravated battery using a deadly weapon but was sentenced on a lesser charge of battery with prior convictions. He was sentenced to 36 months supervised probation.
The 44-year woman met deputies at the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office Century Precinct to report the incident. She told deputies that she is mentally disabled, unable to read or write, and had been involved in a “dating relationship” for several years with McClain.
She told deputies that on January 2 she was riding in a vehicle with McClain when a man called her cellphone. Later that night, she said McClain pressed the barrel of a handgun against her forehead and told her that he would kill her. According to an arrest report, the victim had a small wound on her forehead, apparently from the gun barrel.
He also allegedly grabbed her and held her in a “bear hug”. Over the next few days, she said McClain continued to drive past her house to make sure that she was home, but she was so afraid that she did not immediately report the gun incident.
A few days later, she said McClain drove her to the grocery store in Century and left her there, taking her vehicle back to her residence and sabotaging it so that it would not crank. McClain later allegedly grabbed her flip-style phone and broke it in half.
When deputies arrested McClain, spontaneously said he does not own any guns and that the victim is crazy, according to an arrest report.
August 28, 2015
Multiple students were injured when a school bus loaded with students from Pensacola High School was hit by a dump truck and overturned in Pensacola Thursday afternoon.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol, 16 students were transported to area hospitals, two as “trauma alerts”. The FHP said bus driver Harriet Collins, 27, along with 22 students and a driver’s assistant were westbound on Jordan Street attempting to cross Pace Boulevard.
A Mack Dump truck being driven by Abraham Larry, Jr., age 33 of Pensacola, was traveling north on Pace Boulevard. The dump truck driven by Larry ran the red light at the intersection of Jordan Street on collided with the left rear side of the school bus. The collision caused the school bus to overturn and strike a utility pole, coming to final rest on its right side.
The FHP is continuing their investigation. Any charges in the crash are pending.
August 27, 2015
An Air Force officer from Pensacola was among two casualties in Afghanistan.
Staff Sgt. Forrest B. Sibley, 31, of Pensacola, and Capt. Matthew D. Roland, 27, of Lexington, KY, died of wounds suffered August 26 when the vehicle they were traveling in was attacked near Camp Antonik, Afghanistan.
They were at a vehicle checkpoint when two individuals wearing Afghan National Defense and Security Forces uniforms opened fire on them. NATO service members returned fire and killed the shooters.
“The losses of Matt and Forrest are a terrible blow to everyone who knew them,” said Col. Wolfe Davidson, 24th Special Operations Wing commander. “These two combat controllers were incredible warriors who not only volunteered to join our nation’s Special Operations Forces, but earned their way to the tip of the spear in defense of our nation.”
Roland was a special tactics officer at the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron here. He graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 2010. Upon completing the rigorous STO training program in 2012, he was a team leader who supervised real-world combat preparedness training of a 35-member team. He deployed three times in his five years of service to multiple locations globally. He is survived by his parents.
Sibley was a combat controller at the 21st Special Tactics Squadron, Pope Army Airfield, N.C. He was a four-time Bronze Star medal recipient, once with the valor device, and he deployed four times to sensitive locations around the world in his nearly seven years of service. He is survived by his parents.
Due to their extensive special operations training, both were military qualified static line jumpers, free fall jumpers, combat scuba divers, and qualified in joint terminal attack control.
Special Tactics Airmen integrate, synchronize, control air and space power to enable global access, precision strike and personnel recovery for special operations.
“The risks that these men and their teammates endured in combat and in training are all too well known to the Special Tactics community, but it does not make this great loss any easier to bear,” Davidson said. “We will honor Matt and Forrest for the legacy they left behind, embrace their families as our own, and thank them eternally for their ultimate sacrifice for American freedom.”
Both the 21st STS and 23rd STS fall under the 720th Special Tactics Group, 24th SOW, the only wing solely dedicated to Special Tactics in the Air Force.
Pictured: Staff Sgt. Forrest B. Sibley.
August 27, 2015
Former two-term Florida Gov. Jeb Bush brought his presidential campaign message to Pensacola Wednesday. The Republican touted his experience as governor who can get things done in a crisis.
Pictured top: Northview High School student Mitchell Singleton with Jeb Bush Wednesday afternoon in Pensacola. Pictured inset: Bush addresses the crowd. Pictured below: Tyler Stilleto asks Bush a question during the town hall style meeting. Photos by Mitchell Singleton, Kim Stefansson and others for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.
August 26, 2015
A Cantonment man is behind bars after allegedly using force to steal a car and then using it as transportation as he committed a burglary the following day.
James Christopher Gulsby 32, punched and choked his live-in girlfriend to get the keys and take a 2010 Suzuki Kizashi car belonging to her father, according to an arrest report. The following day, the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office receive a suspicious person call on Hound Chase Way, with the individual reported to be walking around with a black plastic box and a green garden hose.
They responded to find Gulsby in the backyard of a residence with a small crowbar and pair of pliers. Deputies discovered the back door of the residence with pry marks that matched the use of a crowbar, and they reported finding a black box with tools and a green garden hose inside.
Gulsby was charged with domestic battery by strangulation, criminal mischief with property damage, burglary of an unoccupied dwelling, possession of burglary tools with the intent to use, and grand theft of a motor vehicle. He booked into the Escambia County Jail without bond.
August 26, 2015
One of the most dangerous and deadly jobs in America is that of electrical lineworkers, cracking the top 20 at number 10 on a recent Washington Post list. These jobs are considered by many to be the fourth most dangerous occupation in the world.
Working with live wires is dangerous enough. Add to that working in all types of weather, from torrential storms to oppressive heat to responding to the scene of an accident. All to make sure electricity continues to flow safely and reliably to homes and businesses.
It’s a tough job with little thanks. But Gulf Power, with the State of Florida, recognized the contributions and dedication of lineworkers during Lineworker Appreciation Day on Aug. 26, a day set aside by the state Legislature in 2012.
Gulf Power paid special tribute to the nearly 190 employees that work on the company’s 9,000 miles of transmission and distribution lines between Pensacola and Panama City, which serves more than 447,000 customers.
One of those lineworkers, Ed Morrell, has worked 17 years at Gulf Power as a distribution service and line technician.
“I have a great job, with a great company, and I’m very thankful,” said Morrell. “I get to help people improve their quality of life everyday. Whether it’s just hot outside and they need their air conditioning on or if customers need electricity for artificial respiration or other medical equipment, it feels good to know I play a critical part in their lives.”
Morrell started working at Gulf Power after a church member mentioned possible job opportunities. He applied and interviewed, but was not chosen after his first interview. “It’s all in God’s timing,” he said. Nonetheless, he interviewed a couple of months later and eventually joined the company as an apprentice.
“After graduating from high school, I served in the U.S. Marine Corps for four years,” said Morrell. “I thought it would be hard raising a family in the military by being gone all the time so after the first Gulf War, I did electrical work for myself back home to support my family.”
However, Morrell quickly found that utility line work is very different from wiring a house. He said adhering to the safety standards of Gulf Power is extremely important and always job one.
“We have to constantly be aware of our surroundings and remain safe at all times because your first mistake may as well be your last,” he said.
Morrell began his career assisting in the daily construction and maintenance of the distribution systems in order to provide service in a safe, timely and economical manner. He quickly responded to and corrected problems with the electrical distribution system during normal working hours, after hours, nights and weekends and in extreme weather conditions.
“Sometimes it’s tough working different shifts and being on-call, but I love helping other people and working with our crews. We have a special bond among us. After Hurricane Ivan, we worked for more than two weeks with no power at our own homes. We were inspecting, testing and repairing power lines and other equipment using special reading and testing devices. We rebuilt entire lines, set poles, hung transformers and connected service throughout our area. Working with customers in the field and seeing our communities come together was particularly gratifying,” he said.
He tells fellow lineworkers that when times get tough to remember that others may have it even worse during natural disasters. “We have worked with crews in New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy and with crews in Tuscaloosa, Alabama after tornadoes,” said Morrell in a solemn tone. “Both of those areas were completely devastated, homes destroyed, people were missing, and to bring hope to so many families was indescribable. There is always someone, somewhere out there that needs us.”
Morrell advises others wanting to become a lineworker to have a good attitude, be adaptive and flexible, expect to work hard and play hard, develop safe habits, follow directions and do the best you can.
“There is no such thing as a typical day. I sometimes wake up when it’s raining and I’m surprised I haven’t gotten a call. Other days, I’m prepping my truck for when I have to depart at a moment’s notice,” he said.
Throughout Morrell’s career, his very supportive family has stood behind him. Morrell’s wife Kristie, and their three children look forward to him returning home safely each and every day. They, too, continue making sacrifices.
“It’s funny that sometimes heroes look like ordinary people,” said Kristie. “Most people only dream of meeting their hero, but I married mine.”
August 25, 2015
A local man has been sentenced to jail time for beating another man with a pipe in a Century street over a drug debt.
Johnnie Leethomas Carter, 34, was sentenced to 150 days in the county jail, his driver’s license was revoked for one year and he was ordered to pay $920 in fines and costs by Judge Ross Goodman for felony possession of crack cocaine and felony aggravated battery causing bodily harm.
The 61-year old victim told Escambia County deputies that he was walking in the area of Jefferson Avenue and Mincy Court in Century when he was attacked by Carter. The victim said Carter drove up, got out of his car, and struck him several times in the face with his fist before hitting him in the back of the head with a metal pipe.
The victim told deputies, according to an arrest report, that Carter beat him because he had not paid up for a previous drug deal. He said he could positively identify Carter from the neighborhood and previous drug deals.
The victim was transported by Escambia County EMS to Jay Hospital with a bloody nose, a profusely bleeding busted lip and a large knot and cut on the back of his head.
Deputies located Carter a short time later and placed him under arrest during a traffic stop at Jefferson Avenue and Pond Street. On Carter’s person, deputies reported finding a plastic bag containing what tested positive for crack cocaine.
Deputies also seized his 2007 Lincoln MKX and $523 in cash.