Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.
• Today will be partly cloudy with a chance of rain, generally in areas north of Interstate 4, according to the National Weather Service. Highs will be in the upper 70s to mid 80s.
• As you head out for your morning commute, check out our live blog for the latest traffic updates and road conditions across Tampa Bay.
• Plan your week! Here are the top things to do this week in Tampa Bay including the Tampa Pride Parade, celebrities at the Gasparilla International Film Festival such as Eric Stoltz and The Room cult film stars Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero.
• A Cirque du Soleil acrobat who fell some 20 feet during a Tampa performance Saturday night has died from his injuries. During the Saturday Volta show, veteran aerialist Yann Arnaud, 38, lost his grip on an aerial ring and fell to the stage. Cirque du Soleil announced in a statement Sunday that the rest of its Tampa performances would be cancelled. Volta’s run at the Tampa Greyhound Track began Feb. 14 and was to end Sunday.
• A woman and young girl were fatally shot, and a young boy was critically wounded in an apparent domestic dispute early this morning. Deputies are questioning a man who was found running through the house toward the garage. Deputies say the man, whose relationship to the victims is not yet known, was cooperative at first but then became combative. Stay with tampabay.com for updates.
• A Tampa Police officer was wounded early this morning when he was shot while serving a warrant. Richard Lehr, who has been with the Tampa Police Department since June 2008, is conscious and hospitalized in stable condition, according to a TPD news release. According to police, the officer was serving an undetermined arrest warrant to Walter Richard Jeziorski at his home at Hubert Avenue Villa Apartments, in the 4605 block of W Hubert Avenue, around 2:40 a.m. when the suspect opened fire. Stay with tampabay.com for updates.
• Bus rapid transit has been proposed as a solution to Tampa Bay’s transportation woes. Engineers have pitched building a 41-mile system that would connect St. Petersburg to Tampa to Wesley Chapel, but it’s a long way from becoming a reality. Still, many in the bay area may not know what BRT is. Caitlin Johnson compared Tampa Bay’s proposed system with three real-world examples of BRT that works in Cleveland, Hartford and Pittsburgh.
• The University of South Florida’s police department has been working hard to boost its ranks and attract officers. The department is housed in the original USF architect’s bungalow from the 1950s, and officers train in a double-wide trailer. It’s a tight squeeze. USF has 57 slots for sworn officers, but based on the state ratio of 1 officer per 600 students, USF should have around 73 officers. We look at how the department’s doing while stretched thin.
• As tens of thousands of students across the country walked out of their schools to protest gun violence, members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee examined school safety procedures and gun policies ahead of the Parkland school shooting. During the hearing, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., repeated a talking point among people who support gun restrictions that "research shows that 1 percent of licensed dealers supply a whopping 57 percent of the guns that are recovered in crimes." Read PolitiFact Florida’s analysis of the claim.
• Pasco man Qiu Feng Ke has admitted to executing his neighbor in Holiday on Jan. 23. He told law enforcement, he told the Tampa Bay Times and he told the court in a handwritten motion seeking to defend himself. A judge granted that request on Friday. But there’s more to the case: In his motion, Qiu also asks that he be given the death penalty, calling it a "win-win" for everyone. The state, though, is not seeking the death penalty. We explore the issues surrounding this case.
• Pinellas high school students, parents and school staff: Were you hoping to sleep in a little more next school year? The Pinellas County school district is proposing to push most high school bell times just 15 minutes later to 7:20 a.m., though some high schools would miss out on the change. Education reporter Colleen Wright covers how all schools could be affected on Florida’s education blog, The Gradebook.
• Florida State is on its way to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2011 after upsetting top-seeded Xavier with a furious comeback. PJ Savoy made a 3-pointer with 1:08 left to give the Seminoles their first lead of the second half, and ninth-seeded FSU rallied from a 12-point deficit to beat the Musketeers 75-70 on Sunday night in the West Region.
• The son of a Spanish immigrant, who as a cigarmaker led labor movements, Henry "Hank" Lavandera was named for Henry Wallace, vice president to Franklin D. Roosevelt and a 1948 Progressive Party presidential nominee. Mr. Lavandera’s long legal career included serving as a Hillsborough County assistant state attorney from the 1970s through the 1990s and then as associate general counsel at the University of South Florida until he retired in 2014. A native of West Tampa, Mr. Lavandrera died on March 15. He was 70 years old. Staff writer Paul Guzzo’s epilogue for Mr. Lavandrera is at tampabay.com.
• Easter is coming April 1, but first there’s egg hunts. Check out our
Easter page to get the jump on egg hunts, brunch ideas and recipes.