News Cast 2/7

News Cast for February 7th:

Officials from the Martin County Sheriff’s Department have released the name of the man responsible for the shooting death of a Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) officer Wednesday morning in Martin County. 28 year old Franklin Reed the Third of Palm Bay shot and killed 42 year old FHP Officer Joseph Bullock. Officials say Bullock was attending to a disabled vehicle on the northbound side of I-95 in Palm City, just a few miles south of the Martin Highway a little after ten o’clock when Reed appeared and shot and killed Bullock. Reed was shot and killed shortly thereafter by a Riviera Beach Police Officer who just happened to be in that area and responded. The incident closed the road to traffic in both directions in that three mile area for several hours. Bullock, a US Navy Veteran, was an FHP officer for 19 years and mentored younger officers. FHP Colonel Gene Spaulding said in a news conference Wednesday night the death of Bullock was a “tragic, tragic loss,” and is irreplaceable. Martin County Sheriff’s Department detectives are assuming the lead in the investigation into Bullock’s death and officers from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement are investigating the fatal shooting of Reed by the Riviera Beach Police Officer. A press conference on the matter is expected next week.

This past Wednesday was a great day in the developing of economic growth in Okeechobee County as representatives from Guatemala-based business Bautech USA signed their purchase of two buildings and a lease agreement with Industrial Park to have their business brought here. Bautech USA is a business dealing mainly in providing solutions for the construction industry through the manufacturing, distribution, installation and maintenance of precast concrete products. County commissioners approved the sale of buildings and a lease agreement with Bautech USA last September and much of the credit for that goes to the Okeechobee County Economic Development Corporation. President Megan Smith says what made Bautech USA to come to Okeechobee in the first place was the fact that Okeechobee is centrally located in the state. Smith says once the equipment arrives and needed maintenance is done on the buildings they will use, Bautech USA should begin doing business by next month. They will be trying to fill 20 to 25 jobs in the meantime.

An Immokalee man is likely facing time in prison on a host of charges he was convicted of committing two years ago involving animal cruelty. 52 year old Robert David Starkweather was found guilty on 12 felony counts of aggravated animal cruelty a week ago today in Hendry County Court. Court documents say during the end of 2017 into early 2018, Starkweather owned 144 cows and calves he had in a pasture in LaBelle. Sheriff’s deputies got a call in March of 2018 saying there was a downed cow. Deputies found at least 13 dead cows and 131 emaciated cows and calves at the scene. According to evidence presented, Starkweather failed to provide enough water, food and medication to the animals and he ignored signs of malnutrition and distress. There were also charges of improperly disposing of dead animals. Starkweather was found guilty of the 12 counts following a four day trial. He will be sentenced on February 26th.

A LaBelle woman is in critical condition following a vehicle accident a week ago Saturday evening in Hendry County. Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) officers say 23 year old Sheniya Ray was walking east on the sidewalk south of Route 80 near Belmont Street in LaBelle at around 7:30 when she began to enter the outside lane of Route 80 when an eastbound Toyota Tundra pickup truck, driven by 50 year old Alfredo Morales of Greenacres, collided with Ray. Morales stopped his vehicle in a parking lot to see what had happened. Ray was transported to Lee Memorial Hospital for treatment. Morales reportedly was not injured in the accident. It’s under investigation.

On the arrest report:

55 year old Sandra Lee Hodges of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for two counts of fraud. Her bond is set at ten thousand dollars.

44 year old Michael Lee Graf of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on undisclosed charges. He’s being held without bond.

33 year old Melodi Ann Budovsky of Okeechobee was arrested for drunk driving after a traffic stop and field sobriety test. Her bond has not been set.

50 year old Theresa Brickhouse Bennett of Zolfo Springs was arrested for violating probation on undisclosed past charges. She’s being held without bond.