News

New numbers show crime is down in Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- New numbers from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement show crime is going down in Duval County.

The Uniform Crime Report looked at crime in the first 6 months of 2013, and compared to the first 6 months of 2012.

In Jacksonville, the report showed a 15 percent decrease in murders, and a little more than a 6 percent decrease in aggravated assaults. 

Overall, violent crimes are down 1 percent. The number of rape victims are up, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said that's in part because of a re-classification.

Business owners in Jacksonville are hoping the general downward trend in crime could change the way some think about the city when it comes to crime.

"Every little bit helps," said Pat Middleton. He's been selling houses in Jacksonville for more than 30 years.

Middleton said his clients ask him about being safe in Jacksonville.

Toxic site clean up at Bethune Cookman Elementary

JACKSONVILLE,Fla. -- Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary was a stronghold in Jacksonville's black community but for the past 12 years it has sat empty, falling apart, and sitting on a toxic site. 

Finally it is being transformed.

"I can say it," said Rhonda Addo. "At last it has been a long time coming."

Three weeks ago the dump trucks and other heavy equipment rolled onto the campus of the aging school to begin removing the toxic soil.

"The city has made good on the remediation they're cleaning up the land," said Addo.

Like several other locations on the Northwest quadrant of Jacksonville, the Bethune site was a dumping ground for contaminated incinerator ash from the 40s to the 60s.

The clean up is simple the crews are excavating and replacing two feet of dirt from affected areas.

JSO: Suspicious package near Zoo Road

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office Bomb Squad has determined a suspicious package found Wednesday night in the 3800 block of Zoo Road is luggage.

According to JSO Sgt. York, someone's suitcase toppled out or off of their car on the road near the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. As a precaution, the road was closed to traffic.

JSO Bomb Squad carried out "rendered safe procedures" and determined the package was not a threat.

The investigation is ongoing, York said.

FCN Investigates: What exactly are you paying for at the pump?

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- We are just weeks from the busy Thanksgiving travel season.

But, before you fill up for your trip the On Your Side team has three things you'll want to know before you hit the road. It's part of a First Coast News investigation.

At the gas station, every cent counts.

"I get pretty much what my car gives me," said Michael Bryce, as he filled up the car. "I get around $20 half a tank, $40 for a full tank, $5 for an eighth of a tank."

If you feel like something just isn't right, you might be on to something.

It is Anthony Davis' job to find out

He's one of the petroleum inspectors with the Florida Department of Agriculture.

"We want to make sure that consumers are getting what they're paying for," Davis said.

FCN's David Williams joined him at the Chevron station on New Kings Road for an inspection. Inspections are done at least every 12-14 months, says Davis.

Top 5 hottest jobs and how you can land one

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Are you looking for work? If you are, keep the following story handy.

Like many people, 37-year-old Ty Harris of Jacksonville, has been looking for work.

"Off an on for about a year," Harris explained.

He's been doing freelance work in client and project management, but is looking for something more permanent, which is why he came to a job fair Monday.

He said the job market is tough, which makes it harder to help his family of two children.

"I've gotten a lot of 'You're over qualified,'" Harris said of his year-long job search.

FCN's David Williams asked Harris "What if we told you, we know what the top 5 most in-demand jobs are in Jacksonville?"

To that, Harris responded "I would be impressed and I would inquire what would that be?"

Zoo Herpetologist killed in motorcycle crash

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A Jacksonville Zoo herpetologist was killed in a motorcycle crash Wednesday morning.

Amy Hernden with the Jacksonville Zoo said Steve Gott was killed after he crashed his motorcycle into railroad crossing arms while traveling northbound on Zoo Parkway at Parker Avenue around 9:15 a.m.

Gott was ejected in the crash while his motorcycle continued a short distance from the railroad, according to Sgt. Dylan Bryan with the Florida Highway Patrol.

Gott was transported to UF Health Jacksonville with life-threatening injuries where state troopers said he later died.

At the time of the incident, CSX employees were working on the crossing arms and there was not a train coming through the area.

Does it really cost $501 to unlock a bedroom door?

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Frances Gill depends on a walker to get around and being an oxygen user, she keeps her medications nearby in her bedroom. 

"My nebulizer and the other things I have to take are there," she said.

Early in October, Gill returned home from church and discovered her bedroom door was locked. After several attempts to get to open and couldn't she panicked.

"I called a friend, she couldn't come over," said Gill. "I told her I feel like taking an axe and breaking the door down." 

Instead she turned to the phone book and found a company listed as Affordable Locksmith Services.

"I kept telling him my medicine is in there and I need it," said Gill. "And I asked him how much are you going to charge me?"