Black Friday & Holiday Crimes Around the Country–Walmart Shooting in Tallahassee
Black Friday has grown by volumes over the last 10 years and especially the last two to three years. We have seen an increase in the number of stores opening up on Thanksgiving Day. As well as families beginning to make this shopping day a tradition, just hours after having their turkey dinner. As we look back on this holiday weekend and the shopping frenzy that it has become, many people wonder have we forgotten the reason for the season. The holiday season is projected to add nearly 600,000 retail employees nationwide. In Florida it has been projected that 42,000 jobs will be added and approximately $58 billion will be added to the Florida economy. Some of these jobs will turn into full time employment for many individuals who are in need of employment. The holidays bring many wonderful things, but they also bring about an obsession of material things and an increase in crimes.
As we enter into this season of Thankfulness and Giving with Blessings for a New Year, we must address a few questions. Are we, Americans, to caught up on material things? Do we know the true purpose of these precious holiday? Lastly, does this obsession increase the crime rate during the holidays? The lawyers at the Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Palm Beach Law Firm of Berman and Tsombanakis, LLC are all to familiar with holiday crimes. In South Florida, crimes frequently occur at our local malls, banks and even grocery store parking lots. Crimes involving theft, internet credit card fraud and identity theft, as well as an increase in domestic violence cases and even mass murders.
On Black Friday there were reports of parking lot-road rage, turned bullets flying in Tallahassee, Florida in the parking lot of the Appalachee Parkway Walmart. The suspects fled the scene and later led the police on a high speed chase. They were captured on GA Highway 111 near Cairo, Georgia after the police used spike strips to slow their vehicle. Subsequently, the spike strips sent theie car crashing into a guard rail. Both suspects were arrested for Attempted Murder and one was also charged with Armed Robbery. According to the authorities the two victims were transported to the hospital with non life threatening injuries.
There were also reports all over the country of disputes and fights while waiting in line at stores nationwide. The infamous “mad dash” that shoppers make when the doors open has resulted in injuries and arrest for years now. In addition to crimes occurring at retail outlets, many crimes occur in many other places as well. They occur inside of homes, i.e. domestic violence and home invasion robberies. Also crimes such as car jacking and purse snatching increase during this time of the year. Every holiday season you see reports of crimes in mall parking lots, banks and other places of business.
Look Back at the Thanksgiving Mass Murder in Palm Beach County in 2009
Three years ago on Thanksgiving Day, South Florida witnessed one of the worst Holiday mass murders in Florida’s history when Paul Michael Merhige opened fire, killing several members of his own family. Merhige walked into his families home just shortly after they finished Thanksgiving Dinner. He killed his 76-year-old Aunt Raymonde Joseph, and his 33-year-old twin sisters, Carla Merhige and Lisa Knight, who was pregnant at the time and his little 6 year old cousin Makayla Joy Sittons. He also injured 3 other relatives, one was very critical.
On October 28, 2012, just a little over one month ago, Merhige was sentenced to seven consecutive terms of life in prison. This plea agreement was executed against some family member’s wishes. The young victim Makayla Joy’s father was so heartbroken that he yelled in the courtroom before the sentence was read. He was quoted as saying “this is a last-minute deal that’s being ram-rodded down our throats.” Merhige’s Defense Attorney was planning to argue an insanity defense and had experts in place to argue that Merhige suffered from schizophrenia and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). If they were successful at trial, Merhige may have been found not guilty by reason of insanity and/or may have been committed to one of the state’s mental institutions for an indefinite period of time.
On the eve of this past Thanksgiving, news outlets reported that an arrest had been made in the disappearance of a Miramar woman. A day earlier, a 13 year old girl was accidentally shot on a school bus in Homestead and was pronounced dead at the scene. She was shot by a 15 year old boy who brought the gun on the bus to show to his friends. Witnesses reported that the gun went off by accident. Both of these crimes and many others are difficult to digest, but they are especially difficult during the holiday season.
CIA Director-General David Petraeus Scandal and Alleged Security Breaches
The General David Petraeus-CIA scandal rocked Washington D.C. and the entire United States just days after President Obama won his campaign for re-election. The news broke that the head of the CIA was having an extramarital affair with the Socialite Jill Kelley. These allegations were reported to the FBI by Petraeus biographer Paula Bradwell. Bradwell was allegedly uncomfortable with the way that Kelley conducted herself around Petraeus and reported said suspicions. It has also been reported that Bradwell sent anonymous and threatening emails to Kelly as well.
This investigation is full of so many twists and turns. There are many fears from higher ups and concerned citizens that classified information may have been shared between Petraeus and Kelley. Kelley according to reports may have been privy-ed to many events and conversations involving Petraeus and General John R. Allen. There are numerous emails in which Kelley brags about her connections at the White House and talks about her recent visits there as well. Kelley and her twin sister, Natalie Khawam, ate breakfast in the White House on Sept. 28, and ate lunch there on Oct. 24. Both times it was reported that they ate with a lawyer who works in the White House. The White House has not released the name of the lawyer, but they have confirmed that the individual is a White House staff member.
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) role is to provide national security intelligence to senior US policymakers. The CIA is an independent US Government agency. This case draws national security concerns, due to the high level of importance and information that both the Director and members of the CIA possess. The CIA also oversees and in some cases they engage in tactical and covert activities at the request of the President. On November 8, 2012, General David Petraeus resigned from his position as Director of the CIA. Only time will tell the outcome of this investigation and exactly what transpired between Petraeus and Socialite Jill Kelley, as well as the possible criminal activities of his biographer Paula Bradwell.
If you or a family member have been arrested for any crime anywhere in Broward County, Miami-Dade County, or Palm Beach County, please email or call one of the lawyers at the Criminal Defense Law Firm of Berman & Tsombanakis LLC. at (954) 764-6099 or (954) 728-8885. We will be happy to discuss your case with you at length and chart the best course of action and put forth the best and most aggressive legal defense for you.