As 2019 comes to a close, here’s a look back at the 10 most talked-about and impactful South Florida stories of the year, as reported by Local10.com.
Jan. 11: There’s a new sheriff in town.
Just three days after taking the oath of office, Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, citing “neglect of duty and incompetence,” and appointed former Coral Springs police Sgt. Gregory Tony to fill the role.
DeSantis was joined by several parents of the Parkland school shooting victims as he made the announcement outside the Broward Sheriff’s Office headquarters in Fort Lauderdale.
Israel denied any wrongdoing and vowed to challenge the suspension in court.
His ouster was eventually upheld by the Florida Senate.
Jan. 25: Too smelly to fly.
A family vacationing in Miami told Local 10 News they were booted from their flight after passengers complained about their body odor.
Yossi Adler, his wife and their 19-month-old daughter were preparing to return to Detroit when they were escorted off their American Airlines flight.
“All of a sudden, as soon as they took us off, they closed the gate and then they said, ‘Sorry, sir, some people complained you had body odor and we’re not letting you back on,’” Adler said.
April 25: Burned boy dies.
A 4-year-old boy died days after he was burned while under the care of his mother’s boyfriend, Miami Gardens police said.
According to a police report, Khalil Jabali was watching his girlfriend's three children while she was at work when her son was burned by hot water that had been boiled in the microwave.
The 23-year-old man told police he had boiled the water so he could wash the boy’s clothes after he wet the bed.
May 25: Teacher found dead.
A Miami Norland Senior High School teacher who had been missing for more than a week was found dead in a canal.
Police said the body of Kameela Russell was found floating in a canal near her assistant principal’s home.
Ernest Roberts was later arrested and charged with murder.
June 3: RIP, Todd Tongen.
Longtime Local 10 News anchor and reporter Todd Tongen, a beloved member of the WPLG family for more than three decades, was found dead in his home at the age of 56.
His older brother later said Todd’s death was a suicide and believed Todd was tormented by the fear that he had lewy body dementia, the same affliction that claimed the life of their mother in 2017.
In lieu of flowers, Todd’s family asked that donations be made to the Lewy Body Dementia Association.
June 4: Scot Peterson arrested.
Disgraced former Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputy Scot Peterson was charged with seven counts of child neglect, three counts of culpable negligence and one count of perjury for his inaction during the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
His arrest was the result of a 14-month investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
July 6: Explosion in Plantation.
Nearly two dozen people were injured in an explosion at a Plantation shopping center.
Two people suffered serious injuries caused by the blast at the Market on University shopping center on South University Drive.
A preliminary report later revealed that the explosion was caused by “an open natural gas valve.”
Oct. 19: Firefighter found dead.
A Coral Springs firefighter was found dead in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea.
Broward Sheriff's Office investigators determined that Christopher Randazzo had been killed after leaving the Aruba Beach Café and nearby Village Grille.
On the same day that funeral services were held for the 39-year-old, Sheriff Gregory Tony announced the arrests of four suspects.
Dec. 5: Shootout in Miramar.
A robbery in Coral Gables led to a police chase and shootout between officers and two crooks.
After an armed robbery at Regent Jewelers in Coral Gables, Lamar Alexander and Ronnie Hill hijacked a UPS truck and held driver Frank Ordonez hostage. They led authorities on a chase until the UPS truck was blocked by traffic along busy Miramar Parkway, where the shootout took place.
Both robbers were killed, along with Ordonez, 27, and a 70-year-old man, Richard Cutshaw, who was sitting in his car when he was struck by a stray bullet. Ordonez’s stepfather told Local 10 News he believed police “murdered him.”
Dec. 19: No justice for Parkland … yet.
Broward County Judge Elizabeth Scherer delayed the scheduled start of the murder trial for Nikolas Cruz after defense attorneys claimed they need more time to prepare.
Scherer had been adamant that the trial start in January 2020, but amid accusations from the defense team that prosecutors wanted to expedite the trial for political reasons, she relented.
“This case is going to be tried in summer, at some point,” she said.