The Voice of the Gem City

December 1, 2020

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter..

Palatka Police are investigating the death of two men in separate shootings discovered within a 24-hour period. The bodies were found about two-and-a-half miles apart. The body of the first victim who had been shot was discovered around 10:30 p.m. Sunday inside a white four-door Chevrolet Malibu in the 500 block of North 24th Street. Palatka Police report witnesses said the car had been parked there for several hours before the body was discovered. On Monday Palatka Police were called to 110 Belmont Street in Rolling Hills subdivision after shots were fired around 11 a.m. Monday and a man’s body was found. The man, who family members identified as Jontae Merritt, 26, of Hastings, was reportedly shot to death. Two other people, one of whom was shot in the leg. were found at the scene, If you have information about either of the shootings, contact the Palatka Police at 386-329-0115.

A 77-year-old St. Johns County man died Monday afternoon while bicycling on State Road A1A. Florida Highway Patrol reports a pickup truck headed northbound on SR A1A was attempting to turn on Mickler Road when the driver, 29, hit a car driving southbound. That car went onto the right shoulder and struck the bicyclist, whose name has not been released. The bicyclist died at the scene.

Following a news story on a Jacksonville TV station, Putnam County Sheriff’s Office has released information regarding an incident from August that led to a reprimand for Major Johnny Greenwood who became involved in an investigation regarding his son. After an administrative investigation, Sheriff Gator DeLoach in September agreed Greenwood had violated policy by interfering  with an official investigation, but said his “actions and behaviors did not rise to the level of a gross violation,” the second policy violation charged. Greenwood did get a three-day suspension and the report was included in his personnel file. The original incident occurred after Greenwood’s son was drinking at a party and as he left hit a vehicle and was physically attacked. The 23-year-old called his father who picked him up. Greenwood didn’t find out about the vehicle being hit until deputies came to the family’s property. He remained on the scene. Officials noted he acted more like a father than a supervising law enforcement officer. His presence put additional pressure on officers who nevertheless continued the investigation, they said.

A 17-year-old girl from St. Augustine has died after injuries received in a single-vehicle crash Friday in Putnam County on State Road 207. An 18-year-old Florahome man died at the scene of the crash. Two others who were in the car remain in hospitals. Florida Highway Patrol is still investigating the crash.

Putnam County School District is now posting a COVID-19 dashboard that gives information by individual schools for both employees and students. Number of positive cases and number quarantined due to exposure in both school and community settings is in the report that is updated Monday through Friday. The district has 8,132 students and 1,595 employees. The school board meets today at 3:30 p.m. and will announce a planned survey.

Florida Department of Health in Putnam County on Monday reported one new case of coronavirus, bringing the total number of cases to 2,748. In Flagler County, 18 new cases were reported, bringing the total to 2,746. In St. Johns County, 102 cases were reported, bringing the total to 8,832 since counting began in March.

Today is Giving Tuesday. It’s a chance to help out various charities and organizations taking part in what has become a national and international way to help others. Among local organizations that can use your help is the Feed the Need of Putnam program which needs to raise $25,000 to feed Putnam County’s food-insecure children during the first quarter of 2011. Contact them on Facebook or check with Bramlitt’s Plumbing on Highway 19 in Palatka.

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