The Point, Feb. 3, 2021: Fallen FBI Agents In South Florida ‘Exemplified Heroism,’ Director Says


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Today’s top Florida stories

• Associated Press: FBI: 2 Agents Killed, 3 Wounded, Suspect Dead In Florida“Two FBI agents were fatally shot and three wounded while trying to serve a search warrant in Florida on Tuesday, prompting a SWAT team to storm an apartment building where the suspect was holed up as neighbors huddled inside their homes. The suspect also ended up dead.”

• Sun Sentinel ($): Among the deadliest: Past incidents that killed FBI agents. “The shooting deaths of two FBI agents in Sunrise on Tuesday morning is the deadliest violent incident for the bureau since 1986 and the first shooting death of an agent since 2008, according to the FBI Wall of Honor.”

• Miami Herald ($): Who were the FBI agents killed in Florida? Both had history of pursuing child-porn cases. “The two FBI agents fatally shot while serving a warrant Tuesday morning in Sunrise were Daniel Alfin and Laura Schwartzenberger, both of whom had a distinguished history of investigating child pornography and sexual exploitation cases in South Florida.”

• WLRN: Congresswoman Appeals To VA After Vets Seeking COVID-19 Vaccine Turned Away. “Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz is urging the federal government to expand its efforts to vaccinate military veterans against the coronavirus — including many who have been denied the shot because they make too much money or do not have a service-related disability.”

• Miami Herald ($): The ‘UK variant’ of the COVID virus is making gains in Florida, now up to 5% of cases. “That’s up from about 1% of cases in Florida a month ago, according to estimates by Helix, a California-based genomics and diagnostics company that runs about 25,000 COVID tests a week pulled from more than 90% of the state’s ZIP codes. The company is responsible for flagging 84 of Florida’s 147 known cases caused by the U.K. variant, or B.1.1.7. The strain is thought to be spreading throughout the state, though cases are concentrated in South Florida.”

• Orlando Sentinel ($): Walmart to give COVID-19 vaccines at Florida pharmacies under Biden retail distribution program. “The vaccinations are expected to start late next week, and those eligible will be able to make an appointment at Appointments will be scheduled based on how many vaccines the retail giant receives.”

• WTSP: 150 million vaccines in 100 days: How is Florida doing? “As of Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting more than 2 million people have been vaccinated in the state.”

• WUFT News: Marion County Prohibits Use of Gambling Machines at Internet Cafés. “The Marion County Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to prohibit the use of simulated gambling devices for commercial purposes. The county sheriff’s office recommended the action because of what it said was an increase in violent crimes because of simulated gambling devices at internet cafés.”

• WUFT News: Gainesville Police Corporal Reassigned After Off-Duty DUI Crash Arrest. “A Gainesville police corporal who was arrested by his own department on suspicion of drunken driving has been stripped of his police powers. Cpl. Scott Bertzyk, 46, was arrested in the early morning hours of Jan. 1 after rear-ending a car on Newberry Road near the Oaks Mall, according to a Gainesville Police Department arrest report. He was charged with one count of driving under the influence with property damage – a first-degree misdemeanor which carries up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.”

• First Coast News: Gov. DeSantis targets ‘big tech’ firms after social media companies crack down on lies, conspiracy theories. “His remarks come after several companies have de-platformed or banned people and websites perpetuating misinformation and conspiracy theories. Those banned include former President Donald Trump, whose Tweets falsely claimed wide-scale election fraud, and Parler, de-platformed by Apple and Amazon after it refused to ban users threatening violence in the service of conspiracy theories.”

• Tampa Bay Times ($): Bill aims to curb Florida’s data-driven policing programs. “Prompted by a Tampa Bay Times investigation into the Pasco Sheriff’s Office, the bill seeks greater transparency for intelligence-led police work.”

• WFSU: Democrats Push To Waive Impacts From Statewide Exams Due To Pandemic. “Florida uses its student assessments to grade schools, provide raises to teachers and promote or retain students. Last year, all three were held harmless from the consequences of poor performance. They’re hoping for the same this year. Sen. Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale, says tests should go forward, but should serve as a baseline for where students are now.”

• WUSF: Crews Begin Searching For Possible Graves In Clearwater. “After the discovery of Zion Cemetery in Tampa in 2019, the search to find additional forgotten Black cemeteries around the region began. African Americans who grew up in Clearwater often heard stories about unmarked graves that were left behind after a number of cemeteries were moved.”

• Spectrum News: Tampa Leaders Plan to Memorialize City’s Lynching Victims. “A group of leaders in Tampa are working on a project that will honor the victims of racial lynchings in the Tampa Bay area.”

• Tampa Bay Times ($): Tampa Electric to seek 18% rate hike to pay for solar. “In a notice to regulators this week, the Hillsborough County power company said it will ask for permission to charge customers between $280 and $295 million starting in 2022. If approved, customers’ rates will increase to an estimated $124.30 per 1,000 kilowatt hours, up 18 percent from this year.”

• Gainesville Sun ($): Ocklawaha advocates want recreation hubs on free-flowing river. “Proponents of a free-flowing Ocklawaha River have never tired of paddling upstream in pursuit of their decades-long cause and Tuesday they announced plans for a new effort that aims to unite advocates and anglers for the good of the entire St. Johns River system.”

• Florida Politics: Nikki Fried proposes extensive partnership plan with Joe Biden White House. “Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried unveiled an expansive plan Tuesday that would address a spectrum of issues through a partnership with President Joe Biden‘s White House.”

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About today’s curator

I’m Ethan Magoc, a news editor at WUFT. Originally from Pennsylvania, I’ve found a home telling Florida stories. I’m part of a team searching each morning for local and state stories that are important to you; please send feedback about today’s edition or ideas for stories we may have missed to

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