A 47-year-old Key West man was arrested for robbery with a firearm, aggravated assault with a firearm, false imprisonment, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Late Thursday afternoon, the Key West Police Department received multiple 911 calls around 4:16 p.m. about a man with a firearm inside of the Lime Tree Food Mart located at 1816 Flagler Avenue.
Osmel Garcia was known to frequent Lime Tree Food Mart and had been kicked out numerous times by the store employees. On Thursday, Garcia went into the store and brandished a semi-automatic .32 caliber handgun. Video evidence showed Garcia in the store pointing the loaded firearm at customers and employees, and eventually turning the gun on himself.
Garcia never fired the gun, but he took a beer from the establishment and drank it while waving the gun in the air during the chaos. As Key West Police Officers and Detectives began arriving on scene, Garcia was seen locking the entrance/exit door of Lime Tree Food Mart while customers and employees hid throughout the store. Key West Police gave multiple commands to Garcia to drop the gun and exit the store. Garcia ultimately tossed the gun outside before exiting the store. Garcia was taken into custody shortly thereafter. No one was injured during the incident. Key West Police Department Detectives took over the investigation and Garcia was arrested on multiple charges and transported to the Monroe County Detention Center.
A search warrant led to the arrest of an alleged drug trafficker and the removal of a large amount of drugs from the streets.
On October 28th, the Key West Police Department Special Investigations Unit arrested Thomas Scancarelli, 60, on multiple narcotics related charges, including trafficking in cocaine.
A search warrant executed at Scancarelli’s residence led to detectives finding over 51 grams of cocaine, 4 grams of MDMA (Molly), 44 grams of psychedelic mushrooms, 27 grams of marijuana and over $6,000 in cash.
Scancarelli remains incarcerated at the Monroe County Jail on $260,000 bond.
Capt. Jason Castillo presented the City’s Facilities Maintenance Team with a plaque in gratitude for their continued support in keeping the police station in shape. The crew went the extra mile this spring, ensuring everything was working perfectly when the inspectors came for the department’s reaccreditation. This team effort earned the Key West Police Department an Excelsior level reaccreditation, recognition for five assessments that found no flaws.
In April, a team of state assessors spent three days scrutinizing all aspects of the department to ensure it meets the highest level of best practices standards for the state. Accreditation sets a high level of professionalism in a law enforcement agency. It’s a voluntary process that allows the department to constantly measure itself based upon standards set by its peers across the state. The assessments are conducted every three years, but the process itself is a daily practice in every officer’s career. It allows each to remain familiar with the department’s policies and ensures the most professional department possible. Accreditation ensures to the community a knowledgeable police department that provides the very best service possible to the community.
In the photo: Quartermaster Michael Shouldice, FMT’s Tara Whisner, Capt. Jason Castillo, FMT’s Brett Wright and Sandy Rico, and Lt. Joe Tripp.
National Night Out 2022 promises to be a really exciting event for the whole family. On Tuesday, August 2nd, from 5:30 p.m. until 7:30, the community can come meet the first responders who keep us all safe. Hosted by the Key West Police Department and the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, there will be events at Bayview Park in Key West, Aviation Hangar in Marathon, Founder’s Park in Islamorada, and at the Key Largo Community Park.
Kids especially enjoy seeing the array of equipment – from fire trucks and bomb robots to dogs and horses. Our military partners and other law enforcement agencies will also be on hand, and there will be food and beverages!
This national annual event is aimed at increasing awareness about our work in the community. There will be boats, special teams and more at this great family event. There will be an exciting array of displays and equipment used by the police, firefighters, and our military partners. In addition, there will be music and the kids will love the animals from the Monroe County Sheriff’s Farm!
The Bayview Park National Night Out is a convenient location for residents of all ages to come see what we do and meet your local first responders. It dovetails with events held across the nation, including those hosted by the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office in the Upper and Middle Keys.
In the photo: Sheriff Rick Ramsay and Police Chief Sean Brandenburg invite the community to visit one of four National Night Out locations.
The College of the Florida Keys (CFK) celebrated the graduation of Basic Law Enforcement 9BLE) Academy #80 with a ceremony on June 24 at Coral Shores High School. Twelve cadets successfully completed the 770-hour training program. Upon passing the state certification exam, each will be eligible to become a Florida Law Enforcement Officer.
CFK President Dr. Jonathan Gueverra recognized top performing graduates with special accolades. Class Captain Mary Ann Matthews earned awards for leadership and physical fitness. Gilbert Bobo also received a physical fitness award. The “PIG” award, which recognizes pride, integrity, and guts, went to Eric Hunsberger. Tiffany Rodda earned the academic achievement award and “Top Gun” honors for superior shooting skills. Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay swore-in Matthews and Rodda as well as Oscar Espinoza and Christian Cortes as Monroe County Sheriff’s Office deputies.
CFK’s law enforcement officer program satisfies the training requirements of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission. CFK is currently accepting applications for two upcoming basic law enforcement academies. One will be held at the Key West Campus and the other at the Upper Keys Center in Key Largo. Both academies are part-time evening programs, running Monday through Friday, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., starting in August and ending in June 2023. Applications are due on July 29. For more information about CFK’s Institute for Public Safety, visit the College’s website at https://www.cfk.edu/academics/academic-departments/institute-for-public-safety/.
The Gardens Hotel owner Kate Miano presented the Key West Police Mounted Unit with a check for over $6,000 -- funds raised in the May Derby Day fundraiser at the hotel.
Miano has hosted this annual fundraiser since 2017. Each year she has generously donated to the Mounted Unit after hosting the event that coincides with the Kentucky Derby.
The Mounted Unit is one of the most popular units of the Key West Police Department. These equestrian officers provide a daily presence that is particularly beneficial downtown and with crowds.
The Monroe County Board of County Commissioners and Monroe County Fire Rescue Chief Steve Hudson recognized Sheriff Rick Ramsay for his partnership over the past few years in helping to keep the community safe. In addition to Trauma Star, Hudson thanked him for allowing Monroe County Fire Rescue to share space at the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Substation on Cudjoe Key before the new building was operational.
“His hospitality allowed us to serve Lower Keys residents with emergency services without missing a beat,” said Hudson. “We appreciate having a great partnership with him and all of his MCSO staff. Our collaboration helps keep the community safe and provides the quickest available services to our community members in an emergency.”
Sunday marked the final day in a 27-year career for Key West Police Capt. JR Torres.
At last week’s City Commission meeting, Chief Sean Brandenburg, City Manager Patti McLauchlin and the entire City Commission gave thanks to Capt. Torres for his dedicated years of service, noting that, prior to his tenure with the police he served the community as a paramedic for ten years. In total, Capt. Torres has served the Key West community for 37 years.
Chief Brandenburg, in recognition of his outstanding service to the community, bestowed the honorary rank of Deputy Chief.
During his nearly three decades with the police, Capt. Torres has earned many honors, including the Medal of Valor, the Life Saving Award, and several Chief’s Commendations.
He served as a narcotics detective, K9 handler and patrol officer. Ten years ago, he was promoted to Captain and served as Patrol Captain until his retirement.
“This has been the most rewarding and honorable thing I’ve done in my life,” said Capt. Torres. “In my mind there’s nothing more rewarding that a person can do as a human being. That feeling you get when you put your head down at night knowing you have done right for others is priceless.”
Chief Brandenburg recapped Capt. Torres’s remarkable career and, in a long-standing joke around the station, noted that he was, indeed, the Chief’s favorite Captain.
“Congratulations, JR, on an amazing career,” he said.
At Wednesday’s City Commission meeting, City Manager Patti McLauchlin presented Capt. Torres with a plaque honoring his service.
“We’ve worked together for 27 years,” she said, “Through thick and thin. I’m very proud of the service you’ve given to the community.”
In a recent awards ceremony hosted by the Grand Key Resort, Key West Police Chief Sean Brandenburg recognized Officers Andrea Bernatova and Thomas Haynie with the Lifesaving Award.
On February 23rd, Officers Bernatova and Haynie responded to a call for an elderly man having a heart attack at the Casa Marina. Both officers rushed to the suite and found the man on the floor unresponsive and with no pulse.
They immediately began resuscitation efforts, continuing until Key West Rescue arrived on scene and took over the patient’s care. The man was transported to the hospital where he regained a pulse. He was subsequently airlifted.
“The quick response and outstanding ability to work together likely saved the life of this man,” said Chief Brandenburg. “Officers Bernatova and Haynie have rightly earned the Lifesaving Award.”
In an awards ceremony Friday, hosted by the Grand Key Resort, Key West Police Chief Sean Brandenburg named Officer Santiago Perez Officer of the Year 2021 and Denise Richardson Civilian Employee of the Year 2021.
These honors are sponsored by Keys Federal Credit Union and Mary Lou Carn was on hand to present each recipient with a $500 check.
Officer Perez began his career with the Key West Police Department in 2017, having completed the Law Enforcement Academy at the College of the Florida Keys.
“Officer Perez genuinely cares about the community he serves,” said Chief Brandenburg. “He can always be relied upon to go the extra mile whether it's providing food and water to migrants or going out of his way to help someone in crisis.”
Denise Richardson has been with the department since 2010. During that time she has proven to be a dedicated professional who regularly comes in on her own time during the weekends to ensure payroll is completed and correct.
“Denise has gone above and beyond this year,” said Chief Brandenburg, “stepping up to fill some extra vital roles when staff left. Without any hesitation or complaint, Denise has worked three jobs in one without falling behind on any tasks. Her dedication ensured that the department continued to function at its very highest level.”
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