July 18 – Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM to talk about issues facing the Sheriff’s Department.
A national story that made headlines reported that on Sunday around 6 p.m., a shooter opened fire at Greenwood Park Mall, in Indiana, killing three people.
A 22-year-old man who was legally carrying his firearm shot and killed the gunman.
Other people were also injured.
Sheriff Ramsay said, “This debate on guns is going to go on and on forever no matter what, but it continues to show why they highlight all the bad stuff, you see these times here that people were able to stop being a victim of a crime, stop a home invasion, stop from being killed themselves, raped themselves or murders. This is not an easy answer. There’s a lot more that needs to be done for gun legislation to make it safer, but just taking guns from lawful citizens will not stop the problem. It’ll only make it worse in reality.”
Closer to home, a car accident that closed the seven-mile bridge overnight last night took the life of one motorist and closed both lanes of the bridge for hours.
Two people were airlifted by helicopter ambulance with Monroe County Sheriff’s Department.
One was taken to HCA Florida Kendall Hospital, the other was taken to Nicklaus Children’s Hospital.
Sheriff Ramsay said, “So dangerous on the roads anywhere, but this is a difficult road system, just a two-lane road, there’s no place to go when a car crosses the center lane. More people these days are distracted driving, impaired driving, so it’s always dangerous. We get these roads shut down and traffic can just go nowhere. We’re thankful that we have the first responders we have at the Sheriff’s office.”
In another traffic stop recently, a man and woman were arrested on Thursday for multiple gun and drug charges after trying to flee Monroe County deputies on US 1.
Sheriff Ramsay said, “You know we always talk about how stupid criminals are. You got drugs in the car, guns in the car, you’re a convicted felon, you don’t have a driver’s license, you think you’d be driving the speed limits and not drawing attention.”
About 11:44 p.m. a vehicle was clocked at 82 mph in a 45 zone. While trying to get the car stopped, the situation turned into a pursuit.
At one point in time a black bag was thrown out of the window of the car. Eventually, the car slowed, came to a quick second stop where the driver and passenger switched seats after which they took off again and the pursuit continued.
Sheriff Ramsay said, “We go on for a while, we finally get the car does come to a stop eventually and we do what’s called a felony takedown. We have guns drawn, ordering the driver and passengers out of the car at gun point.”
The female, who was at one point in time the passenger, was now the driver. The male was in the passenger’s seat. Once the two were secured, officers discovered a loaded 45-caliber handgun on the ground near the passenger door.
A loaded 32-caliber handgun was also discovered in the car. The male is a convicted felon, not allowed to be in possession of guns, ammunition or anything.
Various drug paraphernalia was also discovered in the car.
Officers later recovered the black bag that had been thrown out and it contained a whole lot of varying drugs.
Sheriff Ramsay said, “This guy has got no driver’s license, thus is why he switched seats, but that was the least of his problems was the driver’s license issue. This was kind of a scary call.”
Both the man and woman have been charged with drugs, guns, felony fleeing and alluding charges, and licensing charges on the male. They are from north central Florida.
Sheriff Ramsay said, “It continues to show how scary and dangerous this job is each and every day. Almost midnight in the middle of nowhere you’re dealing with two people both armed with guns and drugs and don’t want to go back to prison. It’s the prime situation for a shoot out to take place. Thank God it didn’t, but at the end of the day it shows how difficult and dangerous this job is each and every day.”
Another situation arose recently that involved a restraining order and the impersonation of a police officer.
Sheriff Ramsay said, “This was crazy. This guy had a restraining order lodged against him by the girlfriend, so he should be staying away from her. But we get a call from a blocked phone call that later on we find out this guy’s using these apps to block and ghost the calls coming in so you don’t know who’s making the calls.”
The call came in to dispatch saying the person was an off-duty New York State trooper and he’s behind what he believed to be a reckless driver who appeared intoxicated.
Monroe County put out a “be on the lookout” for the car.
Sheriff Ramsay said, “He later on calls again and he actually tells us where the car is headed so we were kind of a little shocked about how this off-duty state trooper who’s just driving down a road allegedly knows where this car is headed to, but we get the car stopped and as soon as we stop the car, the alleged off-duty trooper pulls in behind the deputy.”
He again identified himself as an off-duty New York State Trooper.
The female driver seemed fine, not impaired, and was sober.
It was eventually discovered the caller was the ex-boyfriend of the female driver who’s got a restraining order against her, who was not a state trooper, who was lying to dispatch, who called in a false report just to get retaliatory reaction against this girl.
Sheriff Ramsay said, “We do eventually arrest him for impersonating a police officer, take him to jail. So it’s just kind of crazy when you know you’ve got a restraining order to put yourself in that situation to know you’re going to potentially get arrested, but it also shows you how scary these situations can be with ex-boyfriends, ex-girlfriends and restraining orders. Sometimes the order doesn’t mean a whole lot and these people are so desperate to do some crazy stuff that we don’t know how far this could have gone. We’re glad we were able to identify him, arrest him, get him off the streets and try to protect this woman from this man.”
Another scam that’s out there is people who are making phone calls impersonating sheriff’s officers claiming the person has warrants, unpaid traffic tickets, missed jury duty or some other made up offense in an effort to get money.
The callers say if the person pays the money, all will be forgiven and they can pay with gift cards.
Sheriff Ramsay said, “I always tell our listeners, look, just hang up, you can call and check and verify. At the end of the day, if you missed jury duty or you have a warrant for your arrest, you just can’t pay the warrant away.”
And any time payment is accepted in the form of gift cards, it is almost 100 percent a scam – they want to get things like gift cards because they are untraceable.
Sheriff Ramsay said, “If you’re unsure, which you should be, don’t take their word. They don’t want you to hang up because they want to keep you on the phone because they know if you hang up, that you’re going to verify and find out that they’re full of garbage. Don’t let someone force you into doing something. When in doubt, do nothing.”
A case in Layton uncovered a rather sleepy criminal recently.
It was late at night when Sheriff’s deputies found a car on the side of the road. The car was running, the turn signal was on and the windshield wipers were running, but it wasn’t raining.
Officers pulled over and found a man behind the wheel, passed out. In plain view inside the car, drugs were throughout the interior.
The 34-year-old man from Marathon had cocaine, fentanyl and paraphernalia in his car and was arrested.
Sheriff Ramsay said, “This is another one of your guys not the most smartest, rocket scientist criminals that you’re going to pass out on drugs and have drugs in plain view of your car and just drawing attention to yourself with flashing turn signals and windshield wipers when it’s not even raining out.”
He’s been in trouble with the Sheriff’s office multiple times in the past.
Sheriff Ramsay said, “We’re out there. We’re vigilant. We’re doing our jobs to try to protect our motorists and keep the roads safe and clear.”