Florida Man Calendar – July 28

July 28 – Florida Man Sentenced for Whirlwind Excavator Joyride That Concluded in Walmart Wreck

A Florida man received a sentence of 10 years in prison after hijacking a construction excavator and embarking on a joyride that concluding with him crashing into a Gainesville Walmart.

Identified as Jesse Charles Smith, the Trenton resident pled “no contest” to charges that included grand theft, trespassing, and criminal mischief. Investigators say that Smith altered the wiring of a commercial excavator before going for a drive that wreaked havoc through Gainesville. The Komatsu excavator belonged to Watson Construction and had an estimated value of $350,000.

According to authorities, Smith sped through the city in the stolen machinery and knocked down power poles and live wires, smashed a storage unit, crushed a CT meter, and flattened a fence. Smith also damaged the exterior of a Starbucks and the parking lot at Swamp City Fitness. He ultimately plowed through the wall of a Walmart superstore located on the 2900 block of SW 42nd Street in Butler Plaza. He also destroyed one of the store’s loading docks. Overall, the path of destruction resulted in $2 million in damage throughout the city.

Although Smith carried a machete as he exited the excavator, he discarded it before police arrived at the scene. He resisted arrest but ultimately ended up in handcuffs.

Investigators report that Smith possessed a long history of theft and burglary convictions in Alachua County that date back to 1998. He has had 10 non-violet felony convictions and an additional three violent misdemeanor convictions. Other convictions have included trafficking in stolen property. Following the recent excavator excursion, the court required a mental health evaluation before acceptance of pleas or administration of sentencing.

After accepting the no-contest plea, Judge William Davis of the Eighth Judicial Circuit sentenced Smith to a decade imprisonment along with another 10 years of probation. The probation period will include restitution for various victims of Smith’s crimes.

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July 28 – Florida Man Attempts to Hide Smuggled Gun Using Toilet Paper

A Florida man carried a concealed firearm into an airport later tried to hide it by wrapping the weapon wads of toilet paper.

Identified as Abraham Othman Yacoub of Lakeland, Florida, the suspect arrived at Tampa International Airport’s Airside F to take a flight to Las Vegas. Witnesses saw Yacoub enter the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screening and unpacking his personal belongings from mandatory scanning.

When TSA electronically screened Yacoub’s belongings using an X-ray machine, an employee saw a Glock hidden inside of one of the bags. TSA protocol demanded that all passengers immediately evacuate the area and return to the main terminal.

As administrators stopped the conveyor belt to locate the bag with the gun, Yacoub allegedly seized the bag and fled to the nearest men’s restroom. The suspect then rolled the gun with toilet paper and attempted to hide in a bathroom trash can.

When an officer confronted Yacoub after he left the restroom, the man asserted that he had not brought a gun into the facility. Upon searching the lavatory, however, authorities found the weapon with 14 rounds of 9mm ammunition stocked within a magazine and already loaded inside of the gun.

Police charged Yacoub with counts of violating airport security and attempting to bring a dangerous weapon onto a commercial aircraft.The Polk County man pled guilty in the Middle District of Florida and faces up to 10 years in federal prison for each count of the crime.Yacoub also has a history of highway citations and underwent a previous arrest for racing cars at 130 mph on Courtney Campbell Causeway.

Tampa International Airport previously made the top 10 list of airports in which passengers have tried to smuggle firearms beyond security checkpoints. According to a press release from the TSA, the facility has confiscated 144 guns from would-be fliers. If an individual wishes to bring a firearm on a plane, it should be unloaded and stored in hard-cased, checked luggage. Airline staff must label the luggage bag before departure.