News Cast 3/29

News Cast for March 29th:

Drug deal turns into shooting and car chase

A robbery turned into a shooting and a high speed chase last Thursday morning on US 441 south, Okeechobee County Sheriff Deputies said.

It was all over $35 of marijuana.

Moses Munoz, 18, of Dixie Ranch Acres faces a host of charges including shooting into a vehicle, robbery and fleeing and eluding police.

City police and deputies chased after the suspect after the victim reported he had been robbed and his vehicle shot at twice.

The near 30 mile chase went from downtown Okeechobee all the way to near Spring Lake in Highlands County.

Authorities said Munoz didn’t hurt anybody but struck the vehicle with one round after robbing another man of marijuana at Lock 7.

Schools plan to meet deadline for school emergency system

Nine firms are under consideration by Okeechobee schools to create a new emergency detection system for Okeechobee schools.

It is part of Alyssa’s Law that was enacted after the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

The Florida Department of Education allowed individual districts to negotiate with the nine firms.

A panic button system would alert the sheriff, fire rescue and other agencies immediately.

Assistant School Superintendent Dylan Tedders said each staff member would have access, “All staff is aware that they can call a lockdown at any point.  If they feel like something is unsafe on campus they have procedures to go through to lock down campus.  This would be some kind of panic system that they may have access to in their room, it may be on a lanyard that activates, it could be an app on a phone.”

The deadline to install the system is August 1st.

Each staff member might have a button on their lanyard or a key chain to prompt the system in the school to alert everybody and alert 911.

“It is another layer of protection.  If you go to any of our schools now we have several layers of protection.  We have fences, we have gates, you have to state your purpose going in before they allow you on campus.  This is another measure where we can lockdown our campus relatively quickly, and have law enforcement on the way.”

Veterans Group says government is forgetting veteran health care needs

Concerned veterans of Florida said veterans aren’t getting the health care they’ve been promised in a law passed in June, 2019.

The VA Mission Act allowed veterans to go outside the VA for health care under certain circumstances.

They were promised wait times of less than 20 days for primary care, mental health and extended care, and under 28 days for specialty services.

Florida Director Jimmie Smith said there have been more issues in rural areas,

“Community Care programs specifically help veterans in rural communities that otherwise would have to drive an extensive distance.  Since they have scaled back the program and canceled and moved appointments, we have found that veterans are not getting the care.  They have even less access to medical care than before.”

Part of the reason for the delays could be COVID-19.

Smith said this compares to the VA scandal back in 2014 in Arizona where it was found that veterans were delayed care.   In some cases veterans died from this lack of attention.

“This is the exact same example in Arizona where there were delays in health care.  This raised attention and turned up hidden lists, hidden numbers and information that the VA was not properly reporting to the federal government about the care that veterans were supposed to get.  We are currently at that position when they first started to identify there was even a problem.”

Smith urged Okeechobee and Glades County veterans to contact their congressman, county commissioners and state officials to complain.

 “We are taught as military to suck it up and drive on and just handle it.  We are also taught to stand up and fight for the man and woman next to you.”