Publix: Only officers should openly carry guns in its stores

LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) — If you’re carrying a gun, the Publix supermarket chain doesn’t want to see it.

Publix is joining a growing number of retailers in asking customers not to openly carry firearms in its stores, even if state laws allow it.

The company announced the move by email in a one-sentence statement on Wednesday, saying “Publix respectfully requests that only law enforcement officials openly carry firearms in our stores.”

Trapped manatees escape Florida river wall

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Florida wildlife officials believe a manatee and her baby have been freed from being trapped behind an underwater retention fence where they found refuge last week from Hurricane Dorian.

At least that’s the working theory, since no one could see clearly into the murky water. The manatees likely swam into the area when storm surge raised the water and became stuck when it receded.

Construction workers spent four hours Wednesday creating an opening in the metal wall, burrowed 24 feet into the riverbed of the Halifax River in Daytona Beach.

When wildlife officials didn’t see the mother and calf surface after 20 minutes, they assumed that the manatees had escaped through the opening.

The Daytona Beach News Journal report s that 100 people crowded around to watch the efforts.

The chain based in Lakeland, Florida, has 1,226 stores in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

Survivors of last year’s massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have criticized the company for donating to a Florida gubernatorial candidate aligned with the National Rifle Association.

Publix’s new gun policy comes a week after the competing Kroger grocery chain joined Walmart, Target, and other companies in asking customers not to openly carry weapons in their stores.

Woman accused of sending threats, powder to Florida schools

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Authorities say a Florida woman mailed threatening letters containing white powder to elementary schools where she previously worked as a teacher.

Federal prosecutors say FBI agents arrested 65-year-old Maria Bassi Lauro at her Davenport home Wednesday. Records show she made her initial appearance in Tampa federal court on charges of mailing threatening communications and transmitting false information and hoaxes.

An indictment says Lauro sent the letters to three elementary schools in Polk and Lake counties between August and September last year. The recipients believed that the powder could be harmful because anthrax, ricin and other toxins can appear as a white powder.

Later analysis determined the powder was harmless. The indictment didn’t suggest a motive for the threats.

Lauro was free on restrictive bail. Court records didn’t list an attorney.

Florida juvenile facility locked down after riot

BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) — Officials say a Florida juvenile detention facility was locked down following a riot.

The Bradenton Herald reports that the riot occurred last week at the Palmetto Youth Academy in Manatee County.

The sheriff’s office says a staff member reported Sept. 4 that 43 juveniles were throwing chairs and breaking windows. Deputies responded and ordered all three pods to be locked down. All of the juveniles but one returned to their rooms. Deputies say that juvenile was handcuffed and escorted to his room.

No injuries to staff members or juveniles were reported. It wasn’t clear what caused the disturbance.

The academy is run by Tampa-based TrueCore Behavioral Solutions. The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice residential program houses mostly high-risk juveniles with substance abuse and mental health disorders.

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