5 Things to Know in Florida for July 7

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

Thousands of birds abandon Gulf Coast island

Researchers are trying to discover why thousands of blue herons, roseate spoonbills, snowy egrets, pelicans and other birds fled Seahorse Key, a 150-acre island off Florida’s Gulf Coast. Biologists have been acting on the few clues they have. First, they tested left-behind bird carcasses for disease or contaminants. Those tests came back negative. Next, they researched possible new predators. Did raccoons swim over from another island? Perhaps some great horned owls flew out at night and started feasting? Traps caught a few raccoons, which is common, but not enough to have created a wholesale abandonment. There were no telltale signs of owls.

Rubio to outline plans for ‘innovative economy’

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is taking his Republican presidential campaign to Chicago on Tuesday, where he will lay out his economic plans. Rubio says he will reveal details for an “innovative economy” and a “revolutionized higher education system.” The forward-looking theme of Rubio’s address mirrors that of his entire campaign, which helps distinguish himself from leading competitors in both parties whose families have been mainstays in American politics for decades. The 44-year-old Rubio does not name Republican former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush or Democrat Hillary Clinton in excerpts of his remarks released to The Associated Press, yet he cites the years that the Bushes and Clintons governed.

New Horizons back on track to fly past Pluto

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is on track to sweep past Pluto next week despite hitting a “speed bump” that temporarily halted science collection. A computer overload prompted the spacecraft to partially shut down on July 4 – just days before the first-ever close flyby of Pluto. Flight controllers managed to regain contact with the spacecraft in just over an hour and correct the tense situation, occurring after a relatively quiet journey of 3 billion miles and 9½ years.

Teen gets 25 years for fatal shooting

A Florida Panhandle teen accused of mistakenly shooting another teen during a plot to kill a different man has been sentenced to 25 years in prison. A Bay County judge sentenced 19-year-old Javares Cameron on Monday. A jury convicted him in May of manslaughter with a firearm. Prosecutors had wanted a second-degree murder conviction, arguing that Cameron accidentally shot 17-year-old Curtis Hunt in the back of the head in October 2014 while trying to settle a score with another man – 20-year-old Tyquan Anderson – over stolen pistol. Cameron testified that he had been attacked by an unknown man wearing all black while he was trying to sell some hats to Anderson. Cameron said he fired blindly in self-defense, accidentally hitting Hunt.

Woman killed by falling limb at north Florida spring

A Gainesville woman is dead after being struck by a falling limb near a north Florida spring. The Alachua County Sheriff’s Office reports that 26-year-old Briana Giunta was walking on a Poe Springs Park boardwalk Sunday afternoon when rain and wind caused a heavy tree branch to break loose and hit her. She was taken to a Gainesville hospital, where she was declared dead. The Gainesville Sun reports that two other people were injured, but they declined medical treatment.

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