Florida: 5 Things To Know For December 24

Florida

Your daily look at news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today.

POLICE: FIREFIGHTER INJURED IN DRIVE-BY SHOOTING

Police say a Jacksonville firefighter was injured in a drive-by shooting that apparently targeted a group of firefighters as they put fuel in a fire truck behind their station. Jacksonville Sheriff’s Lt. Jackson Short says the shooting happened at 7:35 p.m. Tuesday outside Fire Station 28. A vehicle drove by and someone fired five or six shots, striking one firefighter in the arm after the bullet ricocheted.

MEMORIAL SERVICE SET FOR SLAIN OFFICER

Memorial services for slain Florida police Officer Charles Kondek will take place at 11 a.m. Saturday at Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz, near Tampa. Officials say Kondek was shot early Sunday as he responded to a noise complaint at an apartment complex in Tarpon Springs.

WOODEN COASTER TO CLOSE AT BUSCH GARDENS TAMPA

Busch Gardens Tampa says it will close its retro double wooden roller coaster. The first dueling wooden coaster in Florida, and the largest of its kind in the Southeast, Gwazi was built in 1999, offering a top speed of 50 mph over 6,800 feet of track. A spokesperson says there is no official date for the final ride but that it will close sometime at the beginning of the year. Several factors were cited for the closing, including feedback from riders and the cost to operate the wooden structure.

2 DEAD FOLLOWING HEAD-ON COLLISION

Authorities say two men are dead following a head-on collision on a Tampa Bay area road. The Florida Highway Patrol reports that 48-year-old Timothy Allen Burke was driving his car on a rural road north of Brooksville early Tuesday morning when he veered into the oncoming lane and hit 48-year-old Donald Joseph Riopel’s SUV. FHP says both men died at the scene. Alcohol did not appear to be a factor in the crash.

ALBINO ALLIGATOR BABIES MAKE WHITE CHRISTMAS

Four rare, baby white alligators will be on display in St. Augustine just in time for Christmas. The St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park says it has added the tiny albino gators to its menagerie thanks to a Louisiana rancher. Zoo director John Brueggen says the white baby alligators are the product of a rare genetic mutation that results in the absence of skin pigment, called melanin.

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News Talk Florida Staff