A 22-year-old Keystone Heights man is in Bradford County jail, charged with robbing five businesses in three area counties during the month of October. Noe Cruz got the name “Red Bandana Bandit” because he wore the bandana while robbing three businesses in Putnam County and one each in Alachua and Bradford counties. Guns were used in the crimes. He netted about $6,000 for the October robberies. He’s being held on $200,000 bond in Bradford with warrant holds in Putnam and Alachua counties. “The very nature of the actions of this individual potentially could have resulted in injury or death to an innocent person as in each instance the suspect was armed with a firearm,” said Putnam Sheriff Gator DeLoach, who along with Bradford and Clay County sheriffs and a lieutenant from Alachua held a press conference Tuesday in Melrose to make the announcement. In Putnam Cruz is accused of robbing a Domino’s Pizza in Palatka on Oct. 5, a Domino’s in Interlachen Oct. 20, and an Interlachen Fast Track gas station on Oct. 24. He allegedly hit an adult novelty store in Alachua and several businesses in Bradford. A robbery detail formed for the cases shared information, which led to the arrest.
One man is dead in St. Augustine after an officer involved shooting including both a St. Augustine policeman and a St. Johns County deputy who were called to a domestic disturbance Tuesday evening. Law enforcement responded to Masters Drive around 9 p.m. about the disturbance that began because a man believed to be intoxicated was attempting to drive off from the condo residences and others tried to stop him. At some point the man, who has not yet been identified, got a gun. When the deputy and officer met with him at the front door there was some kind of confrontation, according to authorities. Both officers fired shots at the man, who died from his injuries. The investigation is ongoing.
Tuesday saw swearing-in ceremonies for seome elected officials in area counties. In Putnam, the only new official was Paul Adamczyk on the county commission. Returning to the commission were Terry Turner and Bill Pickens. School Superintendent Rick Surrency was sworn in as were returning school board members David Buckles and Sandra Gilyard. Flagler County saw Andy Dance, who’s been on the school board for 12 years, become a county commissioner while Dave Sullivan and Donald O’Brien were sworn in for their second terms on the Flagler Commission. School Board member Colleen Conklin began her sixth term with two new members, Cheryl Massaro and Jill Woolbright, who replaces Dance. All those ceremonies were congenial but the Palm Coast City Council meeting was less so. Four of the members including Mayor Milissa Holland were sworn in but Council members Ed Danko and Eddie Branquinho apparently are still smarting over comments made during campaigning and several times were vocal about their dislike. In St. Johns County, Christian Whitehurst is the new commissioner on the block and was sworn in along with returning commissioners Henry Dean and Paul Waldron, who ran unopposed. New St. Johns County School Board member Anthony Coleman was sworn in. He’ll represent the south part of the county and takes the seat held by longtime member Tommy Allen, who decided not to seek re-election.
Good news for vegetable lovers, County Line Market has reopened – just in time for Thanksgiving. The market closes from June to mid November each year. On Tuesday the market on the county line of Putnam and St. Johns counties reopened for business.