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Around the state

By Times staff and wire reports
© St. Petersburg Times,
published December 13, 2001

Pinellas Park bank robbery suspect killed in Orlando

ORLANDO -- A suspect in a string of bank robberies, including one in Pinellas Park, was fatally shot at a motel Wednesday after he drew what proved to be a BB gun on police officers who came to arrest him, authorities said.

The suspect was not immediately named by police, pending notification of next of kin.

Orlando police learned that the suspect was at a Howard Johnson's, spokeswoman Teresa Shipley said. When Officers Charles Heltsley and Robert C. Brown went to arrest him, the man drew what the officers thought was a handgun and charged them, and they shot him, Shipley said.

Heltsley and Brown have been relieved of duty pending an investigation, as is department policy.

Authorities said the suspect was wanted in connection with the robbery of a First Union bank at 5005 Ulmerton Road in Pinellas Park on Nov. 26. Police said the man also was wanted in four other bank robberies in Orlando and Daytona Beach.

Islamic group asks FDLE to let it monitor interviews

CHARLOTTE HARBOR -- Members of the Islamic Community of Southwest Florida want to be present when the Florida Department of Law Enforcement interviews men who may have information about terrorism.

The Muslims based at the Harborview Road mosque said they would fax a letter asking the FDLE to allow an observer to attend the interviews. They said Islamic organizations from Sarasota and Fort Myers were joining in the request.

The FDLE started the interviews about two weeks ago at the request of U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft and plans to question more than 500 Muslim and Middle Eastern men who are in the state on student, tourist and other non-immigrant visas. "Our community has nothing to hide," said Islamic Community spokesman Ahmed Elrefai. "If there's information that will help in the fight against terrorism, of course we want to help. . . . But we're afraid of racial profiling."

Marion County victim of West Nile recovering

OCALA -- A 52-year-old man in Marion County was diagnosed with the mosquito-borne West Nile virus, health officials said.

The virus has infected 12 people in Florida this year, after first showing up in July. None of the cases has been fatal, although five people nationally have died after contracting the virus.

The man is recovering at home after he was hospitalized in late October with fever, headache and chills, said Virginia Olesak, nurse supervisor for Marion County's community health department. His name was not released.

Symptoms of West Nile virus in humans include fever, severe headache, stiff neck, fatigue, dizziness, weakness or confusion. The virus can be fatal by causing swelling of brain tissue.

Administrator to oversee network for judges

TALLAHASSEE -- A new administrator has been named to oversee day-to-day operations of a statewide network supporting trial and appellate judges.

Robin Lubitz has worked in Pennsylvania and North Carolina on sentencing commissions and as deputy administrator for juvenile justice programs for the U.S. Department of Justice. Florida Chief Justice Charles Wells said Lubitz's experience as a top-level administrator "shows him very well suited to the tasks we face here in Florida."

Lubitz succeeds Kenneth Palmer, who died in April after holding the job for 17 years.

- Compiled from staff, Sarasota Herald-Tribune and wire reports

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