5 Things to Know in Florida for Dec. 22

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

FLORIDA AUTHORITIES SAY 1 POLICE OFFICER SHOT AND KILLED

Florida authorities say a Tarpon Springs police officer was shot and killed early Sunday by a fugitive trying to evade a warrant. Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said Sunday that police have arrested 23-year-old Marco Antonio Parilla Jr. on suspicion of first-degree murder. The shooting does not appear to have any connection to the ambush killings of two New York police officers.

7 HURT WHEN LIGHTNING STRIKES NEAR TAMPA BAY GAME

Lightning struck a car in a parking lot near the Tampa Bay Buccaneers stadium after their game with Green Bay on Sunday, injuring seven people, officials and witnesses said. None of the injuries appeared to be serious, Tampa Fire Rescue spokesman Jason Penny said. The strike kicked up rocks and gravel and knocked a few people down when it hit around 4 p.m.

QB JAMEIS WINSTON CLEARED IN CONDUCT HEARING

Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston was cleared Sunday of the accusations he faced at a student code of conduct hearing involving an alleged sexual assault two years ago. Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Major Harding wrote in a letter to Winston that the evidence was “insufficient to satisfy the burden of proof.” Prosecutor Willie Meggs made a similar decision a year ago when he decided not to criminally charge Winston, citing a lack of evidence.

POPE’S ROLE IN CUBA DEAL FRACTURES CUBAN-AMERICAN FLOCK

The key role Pope Francis played encouraging talks between Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro left fractures among his flock in South Florida, where many older Roman Catholics equate the Castro brothers with the devil. Many Catholics worldwide have expressed pride in seeing Francis stirring hopes of progress in communist Cuba, but some Cuban-Americans say their spiritual leader betrayed them.

OFFICER’S CAR HITS MOTORCYCLE RIDER

A police officer struck a scooter-style motorcycle, critically injuring the rider. The Florida Highway Patrol says 27-year-old Officer Silvio Portillo was driving his marked patrol car early Sunday when the front of the vehicle hit the back of the motorcycle. The Daytona Beach News-Journal reports 39-year-old Andrew McIlvain was thrown off the motorcycle. He wasn’t wearing a helmet. He was taken to a Daytona Beach hospital in critical condition.

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