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By Times Staff Writer
Published January 4, 2008
TIA security finds blackjack in woman's bag
Tampa International Airport police early Thursday arrested a 71-year-old woman who they say tried to bring a small club through a security screening lane. Rafaela Mendez was passing through a security lane at TIA about 4 a.m. when an X-ray operator spotted a concealed leather club, commonly known as a blackjack, in her carry-on bag. Mendez, a native of Puerto Rico who lives in Tampa, told authorities she carried the weapon "to smack people's hands when they got fresh," an arrest report said. Mendez was booked into the Orient Road Jail on a misdemeanor charge of carrying a concealed weapon. Jail records show she also was booked on a Hillsborough County warrant for obtaining property with a worthless check, a felony.
Man to serve life for murder, robbery
A man who killed a married father of four and used a knife to rob another man will spend the rest of his life in prison. Gregory Everett McCray, 51, was sentenced Thursday to two consecutive life prison terms plus 30 years on charges of first-degree murder, armed carjacking and attempted robbery. McCray confessed to the July 2004 crimes, saying he was high on cocaine when he panicked during a would-be robbery of a gas station and stabbed clerk Yahya David Kiswani. He then took off in the van of a Florida Sentinel Bulletin delivery driver. McCray pleaded guilty in November.
Police seek robber in a huff for a puff
Clearwater police and Pinellas County sheriff's officials are looking for a robber, above, with a taste for Marlboro Red 100s. Four times, the "cigarette robber," as authorities call him, demanded cartons of that brand of cigarettes before suggesting to store employees that he had a gun or lifting his shirt to show the butt of a pistol tucked into his waistband. He then grabbed the smokes and cash from the register before running out. The robberies took place between Dec. 12 and Dec. 28 in Clearwater, Safety Harbor and Dunedin. Investigators describe the robber as a white man 45 to 50 years old, who stands 5 feet 8 to 6 feet 2 and weighs 160 to 180 pounds.