News Cast for February 12th:

Okeechobee County Sheriff’s deputies have a local man in custody at this time on charges of sexual battery on a minor. Investigators were called to Raulerson Hospital on Friday and spoke to a 15 year old girl who claimed that she’d been sexually assaulted by 25 year old Gabriel Gutierrez-Perez on several occasions between Thanksgiving and Christmas of last year. Deputies arrested Gutierrez-Perez in his home early Friday morning and charged him with sexual battery on a minor. He’s being held in county jail without bond.

There was some excitement at North Elementary School in Okeechobee on Friday night; both the good kind and the bad kind. Several third grade students and teachers were there holding a fund raiser called “Family Fun Night” to raise money for the students to go to the Kennedy Space Center but unfortunately, it became a bit scary. County firefighters were called there at around seven o’clock after the school resource officer smelled smoke in the building. Superintendent Ken Kenworthy says apparently a breaker switch flipped and set off a piece of plywood that was sitting on an activated burner on a stove in a classroom. Crews got the small fire controlled in a matter of moments with no one getting hurt. Kenworthy says a special thanks goes to North Elementary School Principal Tuuli Robinson who assembled and accounted for all students, parents and staff during this incident, all the while remaining calm, cool and professional. Firefighters were there for the better part of an hour and a half getting the fire controlled and smoke ventilated. Kenworthy says damages were nearly non-existent and the stove from that classroom will be removed.

Okeechobee County firefighters had their hands full with a brush and grass fire that became a vehicle fire Saturday morning. Crews were called to the 19 thousand block of NW 256th Street just after 11:40 and found a three acre sized fire burning and a trailer tire attached to a travel trailer on fire. A pickup truck was also burning. Crews got the blaze extinguished in about an hour with no one getting hurt. Total damage to the trailer and pickup truck was about four thousand dollars. The grass fire burned about four and a half acres. The cause is being investigated.

The following evening, Okeechobee County firefighters were needed again for another report of a vehicle fire. Crews were called to the 37 hundred block of Highway 441 North at 6:45 and found the fire in the bed of a pickup truck had already been extinguished by the owner who had a fire extinguisher. Investigators say the pickup truck owner told them that something in his truck bed was starting to smoke and a small fire ensued. While putting out the fire, the truck owner burned his right arm. He was treated on scene by medical personnel and released. Investigators say the truck was near a gas pump but the fire did not damage the gas pump. The cause of the fire is being investigated.

The Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Department has a new member and he is their new chaplain. Rick Giles became the new Sheriff’s chaplain earlier this month, succeeding Joe Bishop, who retired after serving as the chaplain for the last 19 years. Giles, who worked with the Polk County Sheriff’s Department and the Okeechobee Correctional Institute as a chaplain says his biggest challenge in his new role is getting to know the people around him and establishing the relationships needed to do his work effectively. Giles says he’s always had a passion for what law enforcement officers do and what they go through (Giles 1). Giles is a native of Winter Haven and spent thirteen years in the United States Army before beginning his current career.

An Okeechobee man is in county jail at this time on charges of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon in connection with an incident early Saturday morning. Police officers found a man standing in the parking lot of the one hundred block of NE 6th Avenue a little before five o’clock, bleeding from his neck and arm. They were told by the victim that 44 year old Roberto Hernandez-Diaz was responsible and they went up to his nearby apartment and confronted him. Police say they found Hernandez-Diaz sitting on a chair and next to him sat the broken bottleneck used in the assault and blood stains on the floor and walls. Hernandez-Diaz was arrested and charged with aggravated assault and battery with a deadly weapon. He’s being held without bond. The victim meanwhile was treated and released from Raulerson Hospital.

On the arrest report:

38 year old Marvin Earl Arnold the Second of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for violating probation on past charges of methamphetamine possession. He’s being held without bond.

19 year old Nathan Lee Starcher of Okeechobee was arrested for making threats to a law officer and resisting arrest after an altercation with a woman. He was released after posting a two thousand dollar bond.

33 year old Rachel Faye Alexander of Okeechobee was arrested for leaving the scene of an accident before emergency services arrived. She was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

63 year old Betty Lou Chism of Okeechobee was arrested for drunk driving after a traffic stop. She was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

21 year old Nicholas Jamal Thompson of Avon Park was arrested for burglary of an unoccupied home, petit theft and grand theft. His bond is set at $65 thousand dollars.

21 year old Cheyenne Jo Powers of Okeechobee was arrested for criminal mischief after kicking a truck she and some friends got a ride in. She was released after posting bond.

57 year old Bobby Allen Easton was arrested on a warrant from Martin County for driving on a suspended license. He’s being held without bond.

53 year old Ronald Joe Palmer of Okeechobee was arrested for battery on his girlfriend during a domestic dispute. He was released after posting a thousand dollar bond.

47 year old Enrique Lazaro Zarate of Okeechobee was arrested by police for driving without a valid driver’s license after a traffic stop. She was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

34 year old Corey Lee Lankford of Niota, TN was arrested on a local warrant for violating probation and trespassing at Wal-Mart. His bond is set at two thousand dollars.