Tasered Emu Contributes To Weird Year In Florida
Republican Representative Hangs Up On Obama -- Twice
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The past year in Florida saw deputies Taser an emu, iguanas fall from trees and a Christmas tree used as a weapon. What else would you expect in a state where a longtime congresswoman hung up on President-elect Barack Obama not once, but twice?
In a year full of weird events, Republican U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen thought she was being "punked" when Obama called her a few weeks after the election. She told him he was a better Obama impersonator than the guy on Saturday Night Live and hung up. Obama called back, and she hung up again. She finally took the call after a House colleague called and convinced her it was the real Obama.
Obama's wife, Michelle, unknowingly set off a six-hour standoff when a Pasco County man angered by her convention speech ran out of his RV and began yelling and firing a gun. A SWAT team was brought in, and the man was eventually captured and taken for a psychological evaluation.
There were plenty of others who went to extremes to avoid arrest last year, including a man who stole a hearse parked outside a Broward County church during a funeral. A police chase ensued and officers shot the man in the leg before he eventually returned the hearse to the church.
A high-speed chase in the Florida Keys ended more peacefully. Deputies say the driver stopped the pickup truck they were pursuing and ran around and jumped in the passenger door. He then re-emerged sleepily and explained he wasn't the driver. He said he was a sleeping passenger and the actual driver ran away.
Another driver arrested in the Florida Keys was going at a much slower speed - while her 3-year-old granddaughter sat on the car's roof. Grandma told deputies that the ride around the supermarket parking lot was just for fun. And besides, she explained, she was holding the girl's leg and driving at a "snail-pace."
Speaking of grandkids and joyrides, a 7-year-old was arrested in Palm Beach County after taking his grandmother's Dodge Durango. The boy hit mailboxes, parked cars and a signposts and only stopped when a wheel fell off.
Three teenagers tried breaking into a car in Tampa, apparently not realizing it was an undercover police car. Oh, and that an officer was inside.
A 13-year-old was charged with disrupting a school function after repeatedly farting at a Stuart school.
Bodily functions also played a role in the suspension of an Orange County sixth-grade teacher. A student hid behind a bookcase and urinated in a lunch box during class. His parents claimed the teacher wouldn't let the boy go to the bathroom.
Alachua County deputies arrested a man for stealing his own urine after he took a probation office's samples fridge after he tested positive for cocaine.
Among other bizarre thefts, a man stole deodorant from a Dania Beach supermarket and, when confronted, pulled out a BB pistol to make his getaway. The store manager thought it was a handgun and called authorities, who brought dogs to the scene to sniff out the suspect.
A man stole a pair of earrings from a Naples mall and then swallowed them. Police charged him after an x-ray turned up the evidence. A man was arrested for taking 42 cents from a Collier County mall's fountain.
Hillsborough County deputies say two men pulled a knife and gun on a Plant City man and stole his eggbeater. An Ocala man trying to get butter from a church buffet pulled a knife on congregation members, then rode away on a bicycle before police caught him.
In another low-speed getaway, a man in a motorized wheelchair robbed a Merritt Island bank. Deputies caught up with him about 500 feet away, finding the money hidden in his prosthetic leg.
A Manatee County bank robber couldn't get over his guilty conscience. As a teller began giving him money, he stopped her from getting more, explaining he wasn't greedy. He then apologized to bank employees before leaving. The next day, he called the sheriff's office, apologized again and waited to be picked up.
An Ocala man who's apparently a strong advocate of safe sex repeatedly rammed his SUV into a closed convenience store before jumping out, grabbing two packs of condoms and fleeing.
Five Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University students were charged with felonies after police said they tried to steal a baby alligator from a Daytona Beach miniature golf course.
A 69-year-old Oldsmar woman walked into her kitchen and found an 8-foot alligator had let itself in through a screen door. A 10-foot, 7-inch crocodile was captured in Coral Gables and relocated after it ate three dogs.
A Tampa mail carrier was bitten by a rattlesnake but kept delivering mail for 30 minutes before seeking help. A Levy County man accidentally shot his wife while trying to hit a fox that attacked her.
A diaper-clad monkey sitting on top of a wall near an Orange County condo threatened passers-by until police lured it into a cage with -- what else? -- a banana.
Iguanas began falling from South Florida trees during a cold snap early in the year. When the temperature reaches the 40s, iguanas basically shut off their bodies and lose their grip.
A three-winged goose was found at a Fort Lauderdale golf course. The bird was stumbling over the extra wing until undergoing surgery to remove most of it.
In another strange animal story, if Plop Plop the emu could talk, it probably would have shouted, "Don't Tase me, bro!" That's exactly what Bay County deputies did to trap the large, escaped bird. A Hernando County deputy used a Taser gun on a 450-pound wild boar that was rooting up shrubbery.
It seemed to be the year for odd Taser news. A Pinellas County deputy was suspended after he tried to wake up an inmate by crackling his stun gun, a Hillsborough County deputy was charged with using a Taser on his wife and Tallahassee police Tasered a 40-year-old man walking his dog in the nude.
There were a number of odd weapons used in Florida last year. A Fort Pierce woman was charged with battery after police said she hit her boyfriend with a toilet seat; a man in the same city was charged with domestic battery after allegedly hitting his girlfriend with a sandwich.
A Port St. Lucie man was charged with throwing a deadly missile after a water balloon he tossed cracked a car windshield. No one was injured. Tallahassee police charged a 65-year-old man with hitting an officer with a tree branch and a Manatee County man was charged with felony assault after throwing a Christmas tree at his father.
An argument between two women over who was next in line at a Tampa meat market ended with one biting off the other's fingertip.
A man was arrested for punching a Tampa police horse in the rear.
And in a case of self-defense, a pizza delivery man in Broward County escaped a robbery attempt by throwing the pie at the gunman.
In what was apparently a bad case of the munchies, a customer at a Vero Beach McDonald's offered to pay for his meal with marijuana. The employee called police, who arrested the man.
In other marijuana news, Hernando County deputies arrested a man they said was smoking in an ice cream truck; a 2-year-old Port Charlotte preschool student was found with pot in her lunch box; and authorities found 200 plants growing in a storeroom at a Miami mall.
A man sued a Broward County strip club, claiming a performer's shoe flew off during a pole dance, shattering a mirrored ceiling. The man said glass and the shoe hit him, causing a small cut, headaches and nose bleeds.
In what may have been a case of the oldest profession meeting its oldest customer, a 94-year-old (GATOR)?Bradenton man was charged with soliciting a prostitute. A judge threw out the charge saying an undercover officer entrapped him when she approached his car and got him to agree to pay for sex.
A 92-year-old legally blind golfer hit a hole-in-one at a Clearwater golf course.
It was a shot that even pro golfer Tripp Isenhour would have admired. It took Isenhour several attempts just to hit a birdie. More specifically a hawk.
Isenhour became annoyed when the squawking bird of prey disrupted the filming of an instructional video and began firing golf balls at it. One eventually struck the hawk, which dropped out of the tree and died. He pleaded no contest.
In other weird news:
A man in Mary Esther who had both arms caught in a machine was able to shake his cell phone from his hip, flip off his shoes and dial 911 with his toes.
A St. Lucie County paramedic stole a severed foot from an accident scene and stored it in her home freezer, hoping to use it train a dog to follow the scent of decomposing flesh. She resigned.
Clearwater police say a registered nurse called in sick, but later showed up with a mask and gun and stole prescription drugs.
A St. Augustine red-light runner had a case of beer secured with a seat belt in the front seat - and her 16-month-old daughter unrestrained in the back.