The Voice of the Gem City

March 14, 2022

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

This past weekend saw everything from tornado watches to rain to freeze warnings to a sunny finish Sunday. In Palatka two inches of rain fell and some farmers in Hastings reported five inches. National Weather Service confirmed a tornado touched down near Crescent City in the Lake George area early Saturday morning. Two houses were reported damaged on Eagle Trail.  A severe thunderstorm watch was in effect during Saturday morning hours in Putnam and St. Johns counties. Winds caused damage in the area also. Sunday turned out sunny although the rain is expected to come back in Tuesday afternoon and will continue Wednesday.

Another suspect in recent drive-by shootings in Palatka has been arrested. Latelvin Hightower, 30, of Palatka was arrested in Jacksonville Friday for a Feb. 13 shooting incident, according to the Palatka Police Department. The Feb. 13 shooting apparently led to other shootings in retaliation including shots being fired into his mother’s house, according to the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office. On Feb. 13, Palatka Police responded to the 600 block of North 16th Street after several rounds were fired at and into an occupied vehicle. Hightower was identified as the shooter and warrants issued. Law enforcement agencies began the search for Hightower, a convicted felon on probation, but after several days determined he had fled the area. Palatka Police Det. Juston Hale, who is assigned to the U.S. Marshals’ Fugitive Task Force, was given the job of locating and apprehending Hightower. He found him in Jacksonville and arrested him without incident. Hightower was booked into the Duval County Jail on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, firing a missile into a vehicle and violation of felony probation. He’s being transferred back to Putnam County. Hightower’s mother, Latonia Hightower,  has been before the Palatka City Commission a couple of times recently criticizing the response of Palatka Police regarding the shooting of 20 rounds into her house, one of the apparent retaliatory actions. Hightower said she had alerted police to the possible shooting and been ignored. She accused one Palatka officer of laughing at the shooting scene. 

The Players Championship continues today after rain and winds shut down play at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach earlier in the play. Ponte Vedra local Billy Horschel withdrew this morning due to a sinus infection. Seven other players withdrew earlier in the week. With a $20 million purse the Players — normally a four-day event — is reportedly the richest purse in U.S. golf.

A shooting on Interstate 95 near Matanzas Woods Parkway in Palm Coast Saturday evening is under investigation. Apparent road rage was behind the 9:15 p.m. shooting that sent one man to the hospital and injured the woman with him, according to the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office. She was treated at the site. Shots apparently were fired from a car amidst a group of motorcyclists. The car sped off and the motorcycles continued north after the shooting. If you have information, call the Sheriff’s Office at 386-313-4911 or call CrimeStoppers of Northeast Florida.

Schools are closed for spring break in Putnam, St. Johns and Flagler counties this week. That means teachers, school staff and students are enjoying a vacation. Several county school offices, including Putnam, do have staff at district headquarters.

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