5 Things to Know in Florida for March 30

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

8 die when church van crashes

Eight people are dead after a church van crashed into a canal in rural southwest Florida early Monday. The Florida Highway Patrol says the 10 others were injured were taken to four hospital in the area with injuries ranging from stable to critical. Trooper say the driver ran through a stop sign and across all lanes of U.S. 27 before crashing into the canal.

Alleged gunman awaits court appearance after panhandle party erupts in gunfire

Seven people are recovering from gunshot wounds, an accused gunman is behind bars and officials in theFlorida Panhandle are debating what’s next for spring break after a packed weekend party in Panama City Beach ended in a spray of gunfire. It’s energized a years-long debate in this spring break capital over how much to crack down on the annual migration of young people that is a key economic force.

New leader takes of Florida National Guard; first black to hold post

A new adjutant general is at the helm of the nearly 12,000-member Florida National Guard. Maj. Gen. Michael Calhoun, a 61-year-old former Costco pharmacist, formally became the 22nd adjutant general in a ceremony Sunday at Camp Blanding. He is the first African American to hold the job, replacing the outgoing Maj. Gen. Emmet Titshaw.

Researchers link Everglades’ mammal drop to invasive pythons

Researchers have linked invasive Burmese pythons to the severe drop in the population of small mammals in the Florida Everglades. A University of Florida research team outfitted 30 marsh rabbits with radio collars and set them free. When they later tracked the signals they found mostly pythons. U.S. Geological Survey herpetologist Bob Reed says the study is the first hard evidence of invader pythons causing mammal declines in Everglades National Park.

Florida man gets prison for false US badges, degree claim

A Florida man has been sentenced to a year in prison for possessing fake U.S. government badges and falsely claiming to have an advanced college degree needed for Medicare work. A Tampa federal judge imposed the sentence last week on 55-year-old Roy Antigua of Miami as well as a $114,000 money judgment. Evidence shows Antigua falsely claimed to have a social work master’s degree from Boston University when he applied to work at two home health care agencies. He was hired and the agencies billed Medicare for work he performed. A master’s degree is required by Medicare for people who do social work.

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