August 22 – Today began with a traffic accident on 107th Street where injuries occurred and Monroe County Sheriff’s Deputies were on the scene.
Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM this morning to talk about what’s happening in the county.
School traffic has started up again, too, so things will be slow-going as children and teachers head to the classroom.
Sheriff Ramsay said, “We’ve got deputies out in all the school zones. We try to tell our people so we’re not trying to hide or make it a secret. We’re going to be out there with radar and laser in cars on the side of the road, in schools zones behind buses and we’re trying to be everywhere to make sure we keep our kids in our community safe. We try to put the warnings out because we want people to comply.”
Last week, a sport utility vehicle was used to strike a man. It began as a civil matter between two people. In this case, the victim was looking to rent a place and had put $4,000 down, but never got his rental. He kept trying to get a hold of the person to whom he’d given the money, but had no luck.
The person was located on Stock Island and the victim said either return the money or let him move in. The victim stood in front of the man’s SUV and the man just ran him over.
Sheriff Ramsay said, “We were called to the scene. The car left. We talked to the individual. He had injuries consistent of being struck with the SUV. We started an investigation and that person was ultimately charged with aggravated battery and other related charges. It’s a shame. We see these disputes over money or other issues and people escalate it to these points in time where they’re taking a civil matter and they’re turning it into a serious, criminal matter.”
Also last week, a Stock Island man posed as a ride share driver. When the woman got in the car, while he’s driving, he began touching her, making advances towards her, exposing himself and grabbing her.
She told him to stop. Eventually she got dropped off at her home and called the Sheriff’s Department.
Deputies located the vehicle and man and he was arrested on multiple charges of battery, sexual misconduct and other related charges.
Alcohol was involved.
Sheriff Ramsay reminded, “This continues to send a message that Uber and other apps are fine, Lyft, I use them myself, but those apps have on there to give you the vehicle description, the tag number, the driver’s name. You should always get that when the person comes up. Make sure that they’re the same person you’re looking for.”
Apparently sometimes people will drive around looking for people who appear to be waiting.
Sheriff Ramsay said, “I’ve seen this happen in other geographic areas. We’ve seen people jump into a car thinking it’s an Uber that they called or a Lyft. And again, not looking to verify the same car, tag, driver, and then become the victim of either sexual assault or murders or other related violent crime. So there’s always people that are going to prey on somebody and try to take advantage. So that’s again why we always want to diligent and vigilant and make sure we slow down, think about it and make sure this is what it appears to be.”
A plane crashed outside of Marathon on Friday. A small plane with two passengers, a male and female, took off from the airport and had a malfunction that resulted in a crash.
Fish and Wildlife and the US Coast Guard helped Monroe County Sheriff’s Deputies to locate the crash. The male and female were found clinging onto the plane. They were rescued and had no injuries.
The FAA will investigate.
Sheriff Ramsay said, “Very unusual to see a plane go down, but obviously we’re very thankful and blessed that these two individuals did not get harmed in any way. The plane’s a total loss. It was pulled out a couple days later.”
A man with a machete accosted a 59-year-old man and his 79-year-old mother during a dispute last week in a civil matter over money at Precision Auto.
The suspect had dropped off his car to get worked on, but the mechanic couldn’t fix the problem. When the suspect got a bill for a problem that wasn’t fixed, he became enraged.
The suspect eventually jumped in his car, put it in drive, aimed at the man and his mother and then got out of the car with a 2-foot long machete and threatened bodily harm to the man and his mother.
The man had a gun in a fannypack.
Sheriff Ramsay said, “The victim reached in, feared for his life, this is a stand your ground case, clear case, drew his weapon and pointed his weapon and that immediately de-escalated the situation. The person with the machete immediately stopped his attack once he was confronted with a firearm.”
Monroe County Sheriff’s Department was contacted and investigated. The suspect was arrested on multiple charges of aggravated assault.
Sheriff Ramsay said, “Again, civil matters which could be resolved in civil courts, but to take these matters into your own hands, nothing good is going to come out of it. If you take these attempts to hurt people or attack them, you have to know they’re going to call law enforcement and you’re going to subsequently go to jail. It’s just not worth it.”
More cocaine washed ashore yet again in Key West and migrants have also been coming in by the hundreds.
Monroe County Sheriff’s Department had a meeting with state, local and federal partners to try to address the problem.
Sheriff Ramsay said, “We’re seeing a mass migration at record levels. We’re seeing landings almost every day. We’re seeing a lot of vessels come from Haiti, which we never really saw in the past.”
The Haitian boats can have anywhere from 100 to 300 people on board. They’re usually old, wooden sailboats and are not really safe at sea.
Sheriff Ramsay noted, “These trips take seven to 10 days to come from Haiti to the United States, so they’re at sea for a really long time.”
There are also times when the boats sink and bodies are recovered and brought to Monroe County for investigations, which can be difficult and add to an already packed schedule.
The investigations include notifying next of kin and performing autopsies on people who have no identification.
Sheriff Ramsay said, “It’s not really within our authority because it’s not in our area of responsibility. It’s outside of Florida waters. We’re talking about bodies that may be found 20 miles off of Key West. Well those are in federal waters, in international waters. We just don’t have the jurisdiction and we’ve been a good partner, but we’re seeing these cases more and more and I’ve been really worried that one day, I hope it never happens, but one day we’re going to see one of these Haitian sale freighters 20 miles offshore, sink, flip over, capsize and we’re going to see 100 people die. Our stance has been really, look, we’re overloaded now when you bring one or two into us and we don’t even have the authority. What happens when there’s 100? Where are you going to bring them to? The medical examiner doesn’t have room for 100 bodies. The medical examiner’s not going to do 100 examinations. We’re not going to pull 100 case numbers and do 100 death investigations and try to identify 100 people and try to track next of kin in Haiti for 100 people.”
FBI, Homeland Security, Coast Guard Investigative Services and the Coast Guard were just a few of the organizations that attended the meeting.
Sheriff Ramsay said, “We finally said, look, it’s clearly not the responsibility of the local Sheriff to go out, 20 miles out and deal with death investigations. This is a violation of USC, United States Code. It’s an immigration violation. It has to be somebody from the federal government.”
It was decided the Coast Guard Investigative Services would handle it, but they may not have the manpower to do it.
Sheriff Ramsay said, “Our stance leaving off was, well we appreciate that, but we’re not longer going to do this, so you better start getting a battle plan because we are no longer going to investigate bodies that are found in international waters. If there’s a landing, we’ll come there to help, aid and assist. We’ll check on the wellbeing of the migrants coming to shore to make sure they’re okay and we can help them. But we’re not going to be doing these in-depth investigations that occurred in foreign territorial waters on foreign personnel. We also told them at the same time, you need to have a mass casualty plan for offshore because you can’t even handle one or two bodies which are found offshore right now. How are you going to handle it one day when there’s 50 or 100 bodies being brought in? You need to have a plan now, not do crisis management when it’s occurring.”
This is a perfect example of why plans are so important.
Sheriff Ramsay said, “It’s part of any type of planning, hurricane planning, crisis management. Everything that could happen, you should have a plan in place so not only you, but others know what to do. We can’t have the plan hidden somewhere in DC when the people who need to have it are the first responding patrol agent and not try to figure it out because when things happen, it happens quick. And if it doesn’t who’s going to have to deal with it is our local and state people are going to have to make some immediate decisions because they’re not ready.”