News

Sheriff: Murray Hill violent crime up 1%; officer cuts partly to blame


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Westside residents are speaking up about violence in their community. Monday night the residents gathered to hear from Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford.

"I lay in the bed every night and I hear gunshots," said Pamela Miller, a long-time resident on Remington Street.

Miller says in the last few years she's seen an increase in violence crime.

"I do not go outside after dark," said Miller.

That's the same case for Keely Kopp. She moved back to the Murray Hill area after going to college in Tallahassee and it's nothing like what she remembers.

"I remember when I was little I never really felt unsafe, but the house in our neighborhood got broken into around 11 in the day," said Kopp.

Broken hearts remain: Legal clinic doesn't file divorces


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- When Sandra Simpson was looking for help filing a divorce, she turned to a legal clinic she found advertising on the side of the road.

"I tried to do it myself and couldn't reapply for my divorce by myself," she said, "I needed help."

Simpson wants to divorce her husband. She said it is an abusive relationship and she wants out. She paid CD Legal Clinic $350 to file the papers.

"Nicest people in the world the first time you meet them," she said.

Simpson she paid extra, but when nothing happened, she began calling the company.

"Still to this day, they will not return my calls," she said.

She is not alone. Roger Wood of Green Cove Springs has a similar complaint.

"They agreed to help me for a fee of $350, which I paid them," said Wood, "I feel as if I have been scammed."

Murray Hill neighbors want the violence to stop


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Several people who call the Murray Hill area home say they are tired of crime in the neighborhood and want something done about it.

First Coast News spoke to a woman who said her car in Murray Hill was shot up by a drive-by shooter early Saturday morning. She did not want to appear on camera, but she and several neighbors said they are concerned about crime.

"I was getting ready to go to bed and I hear a 'pop pop pop pop pop,'" she said.

That's what AJ Andruszkiewicz and several other neighbors also said they heard early Saturday morning in what is described as a drive-by shooting.

"I knew it was gunshots right away," Andruszkiewicz said.

That incident appears to be the latest in a string of violence that neighbors in the quiet, sleepy area said they're tired of.

"It kind of shakes you up," he said.

5 shot, 1 dead after nightclub shooting


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- One person was killed and four people were injured during a shooting inside a nightclub early Sunday morning.

Off-duty Jacksonville Sheriff's Office deputies working inside Fat Kat nightclub in the 1100 block of S. Edgewood Avenue called in to report shots fired just before 4 a.m.

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Four of the victims were taken to the hospital by private vehicle, according to JSO, including the person who eventually died. The fifth victim was transported to the hospital by JFRD in life-threatening condition.

Get a free, sober ride home tonight

JACKSONVILLE, FLA-- We want you to get the new year started off safely so put this number in your phone, 885-286-9246.

855-286-9246 is the phone number to AAA's Tow-To-Go program.  You don't have to be a AAA member to use the service, it just gets you a safe, free ride home and saves you from driving intoxicated.

"New Year's Eve is the busiest night of the year for the Tow to Go program because so many motorists seem to be more inclined to use a designated driver but don't always have someone willing to be one in their own party during the biggest celebration of the year," said Gerry Gutowski, Sr. Vice President, Automotive Services, AAA–The Auto Club Group. "We prepare our call center teams and tow truck service providers for weeks in advance, so we can manage the increased call volume that's typical of this time of year."

Local high schools receive their new grades

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Nearly half of Florida's high schools are getting an A grade for the 2012-13 school year.

The grades released Wednesday by the Florida Department of Education show a slight increase in the number of A graded schools.

But the number of D and F rated schools also went up. There were eight high schools that received F grades as opposed to just three in 2012.

Duval Schools fall short in meeting class size

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Duval County schools made progress this year, but once again fell short of complying with mandated class size limits.

According to a head count conducted in October and analyzed by the Florida Department of Education, nearly 900 Duval County students are impacted by overcrowding.

The Florida Department of Education reported in Duval 1,075 classrooms, out of 21,000, exceed the class limit size.

In Florida, voters approved a class size amendment which states a maximum of 18 kids per pre-k classroom through the third grade, 22 students per class in grades four through eight and 25 students in grades nine through 12.

Duval County School Superintendent Nikolai Vitti says a year ago the district had 20% of classrooms out of compliance and now it is down to 5%.