Things That Matter

Florida Police Are Investigating How A Fully Loaded Assault Rifle Ended Up In A Baby Einstein’s Box Bought At A Goodwill

A Florida military couple was shocked when they saw their friends open their baby shower gift, purchased at Goodwill, only to find a semi-automatic rifle neatly stored in the seemingly unopened Baby Einstein bouncer. Veronica Alvarez-Rodriguez said that she and her husband were on their way to a baby shower when they stopped at the Valparaiso Goodwill and found what they thought was the perfect gift. When the father-to-be, Jonathan Rosas, opened the box, he was delighted, and shouted: “You guys got me a gun!” Alvarez-Rodriguez told the Northwest Florida Daily News.

The Rosas’ baby shower for baby Johnathan ended with a visit from Crestview Police Officers, who initially said they could keep the gun.

At first, the parents-to-be thought the Alvarez-Rodriguez family was pranking them.

CREDIT: VERONICA ALVAREZ-RODRIGUEZ / FACEBOOK

Jonathan Rosas is a military man himself, so he initially thought their friends actually gifted him an assault rifle, but was making a joke by packaging it inside a Baby Einstein toy box. “The funniest part is they opened gifts in front of everyone and they thought we were pranking them🤣🤣Nope, lol that was not supposed to be in there but the dad to be got a better gift than a bouncer,” Alvarez-Rodriguez later commented on Facebook. Guests laughed away while the Alvarez-Rodriguez family was dumbfounded. The box looked like it had never been opened, and they thought they had just scored a brand new brand-name baby jumper for just $9.99 at Goodwill. As it turns out, there was nothing baby-friendly about the gift, though they did get a very good deal on a gun. 

“💰When you go to the Goodwill for a baby shower gift thinking you got a good deal on a bouncer ($10) not even opened and you end up opening a 🔫MOSSBERG 715T Semi-Auto Rifle 😱😱,” Veronica Alvarez-Rodriguez posted on Facebook. The Crestview Police were called to the house, where they searched for the serial number of the gun, and found that it was “clean.” “Serial number was clean & Crestview Police said do what you want with it🏆,” Alvarez-Rodriguez posted. “The gun now belongs to Baby Jonathan who is due to enter this world any day now 😂 #wegiftedhimhisfirstgun” 

The responding officer suspected no foul-play and thinks that someone’s wife just tricked her husband into donating the gun.

CREDIT: VERONICA ALVAREZ-RODRIGUEZ / FACEBOOK

The group immediately called the police once they realized that an assault rifle was hidden in a baby toy box and donated to Goodwill. The officers arrived at the baby shower and checked the couple’s identifications to make sure they weren’t convicted felons, and then began wondering out loud how on earth an assault rifle arrived inside a baby toy box. Alvarez-Rodriguez later commented on her Facebook post that the assigning officer guessed that “someone’s wife probably got mad at the husband and took his gun and dropped it off.” The officer initially allowed the family to keep the gun, but the next day, police asked Jonathan Rosas to turn over the gun while they run it through a database with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. Crestview PD confirmed that the weapon was not stolen, but are holding the gun for 90 days while they come to understand the purchase history. That means that we may find out how the gun landed at a Goodwill. 

Crestview and Valparaiso Police Departments are working a theory that the rifle may have been donated at a collection point anywhere between Tallahassee and Pensacola before it arrived at the Valparaiso Goodwill. The rifle was fully loaded inside the box. Police are now saying they believe someone donated the baby-bouncer to Goodwill without knowing its contents, according to Military Times.

The Rosas are expected to receive the gun after the 90-day hold period.

CREDIT: AMBER ROSAS / FACEBOOK

In case you’re wondering, someone asked Alvarez-Rodriguez how she didn’t notice the weight difference between a baby bouncer and an assault rifle. “I mean metal poles on the bouncer & metal gun and some ammo ??” she answered, adding that the box says it should weight 25 pounds, but agrees that it’s “definitely a mysteriously crazy find.” Alvarez-Rodriguez’s Facebook friends didn’t believe that the rifle could fit inside the box, so she later posted a video of the rifle inside the box as further evidence to an unimaginably wild story to believe.

By the time the gun is returned to them, their baby will likely be two to three months old. Would you have an assault rifle in the same house as your baby?

READ: California Man Arrested With Drugs And Guns While Keeping A Person Hostage And Suspected Of Murder

Florida Republicans Just Introduced Four Anti-LGBTQ Bills On The Last Day Possible And People Are Asking Why Now?

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Florida Republicans Just Introduced Four Anti-LGBTQ Bills On The Last Day Possible And People Are Asking Why Now?

Ben Wassenhatch / Flickr

Seven Republican lawmakers in Florida filed four anti-LGBTQ bills hours before the deadline for the upcoming legislative session this week. The bills undo many of the protections that exist for LGBTQ Florida residents. The four bills would repeal county and municipal ordinances for LGBTQ workers, legalize gay conversion therapy, and ban transgender healthcare for children, according to NBC News. 

The homophobic and transphobic legislation was introduced by representatives Anthony Sabatini, Bob Rommel, Michael Grant, and Byron Donalds, along with Senators Joe Gruters and Keith Perry. Florida Rep. Shevrin Jones, who is a member of the LGBTQ community, and other advocates are now fighting against the bills’ passing. 

Advocates respond to the bill calling it “discrimination and hate.”

“Clearly they’ve decided that discrimination and hate are central to their election-year platform despite our state’s incredible diversity,” Jones said in a statement. “Just as I’ve done since I was elected in 2012, I will continue to fight any legislation that marginalizes or threatens any Floridian’s shot at a secure, safe, and bright quality of life.”

Jones also accused Florida Republicans of, “wasting tax dollars attacking Florida’s most vulnerable communities rather than prioritizing the issues that impact everyday people’s lives.” 

Equality Florida released a statement highlighting many of the consequences such a bill would have. 

“This is the most overtly anti-LGBTQ agenda from the Florida Legislature in recent memory,” Jon Harris Maurer, the group’s public policy director, said. “It runs the gamut from openly hostile legislation that would arrest and imprison doctors for providing medically necessary care, to legislation that would carelessly erase critical local LGBTQ protections.”

Senator Gruters defends the bill, claiming it “includes protections.”

“The bill certainly does not authorize an employer to discriminate against employees who are members of protected classes, whether protected by federal or state law or local ordinance,” Gruters told NBC News via email.  “While I do not believe the bill has any impact on local anti-discrimination ordinances, in an abundance of caution, I included language in the bill’s preamble to make clear that the preemption would not affect local anti-discrimination laws, and any court would interpret the preemption consistent with that preamble.” 

While Gruters claims it would include protections, Joe Saunders, senior political director at Equality Florida, claims that these so-called protections are merely a part of the bill’s preamble and would carry no weight should the bills become law. 

“We appreciate that Sen. Gruters put that in,” Saunders said. “It’s not policy; it’s not considered part of the bill.”

Democratic senator Lori Berman suggested the bill was nothing more than a political stunt to garner votes from homophobic and transphobic constituents. 

“I’m disappointed to see some of my colleagues proposing this regressive and discriminatory anti-LGBT agenda,” Berman wrote on Twitter. “What benefit to the public does this legislation actually serve, apart from tossing red meat to a political base in an election season?” 

Trans children are particularly vulnerable to the policies. 

“Transgender youth are some of the most at risk in our community,” Gina Duncan, Equality Florida’s director of transgender equality, told NBC News. “It is outrageous that conservative legislators would threaten their health and safety. Medical professionals, not politicians, should decide what medical care is in the best interest of a patient. Forcing a doctor to deny best practice medical care and deny support to transgender youth can be life-threatening.”

Making it illegal for doctors to provide necessary care to trans children certainly goes against the Hippocratic oath, but if you think something so dystopian can’t happen just look at how Republicans have slowly chipped away at abortion rights – another form of necessary care that can be life-saving. 

Just yesterday South Dakora Republican lawmakers introduced a bill that would also ban doctors from performing gender-affirming surgeries or treatments on children. Similar bills have been filed in Texas, Georgia, and Kentucky. 

According to the Associated Press, “The Endocrine Society, which is the leading professional organization for doctors who specialize in hormones, does not recommend gender-transition medical treatment before puberty for children who do not identify with their biological gender. For youths experiencing puberty and older adolescents, the Endocrine Society recommends that a team composed of expert medical professionals and mental health professionals manages treatment.”

Opponents of these anti-trans bills believe the laws interfere with the doctor-patient relationship and contradict the widely accepted practices of the medical community. 

“Sadly, the medical care of transgender youth has been sensationalized and politicized,” Jack Turban, a researcher at Harvard Medical School, told NBC News. “Gender-affirming medical care for transgender adolescents is endorsed by major medical organizations, including the Endocrine Society, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. It should go without saying, but providing standard medical care should not be a felony.”

A Florida Politician Verbally Assaulted A Group Of Latinos But They Recorded The Incident

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A Florida Politician Verbally Assaulted A Group Of Latinos But They Recorded The Incident

@TrendsKey / Twitter

Late last month, a teenage Puerto Rican tennis player was accosted by local politician Martin Hyde at a tennis club in Sarasota, Florida. The tennis player captured the incident on video, which was later posted to social media by Puerto Rican attorney Alvin Couto de Jesus, who had originally gotten the video from the athlete’s uncle, Javier Irizarry.

In the video, Hyde is seated, speaking tersely with the athlete and his peers, before following them as they begin to leave the premises.

According to Irizarry, his 15-year-old nephew was invited to play in the Casely International Tennis Championship, which was hosted last week by Bath & Racquet Club at the Celsius Tennis Academy in Sarasota, Florida. The athlete was practicing for the tournament when, allegedly, Hyde approached him and his friends in an aggressive manner, instructing them to “cut grass” and “get out.” The video’s audio begins with Hyde telling one of the players to “keep [your] mouth shut.” The tennis player and his peers rebuke Hyde’s confrontation, calling him out for making racist comments and demanding that they leave.

“You’re telling me to cut grass because I’m Hispanic,” says one of the players. “That’s racism, man. How can you say something like that?”

The players continue to draw attention to Hyde’s racist comments before turning to leave the scene. Hyde gets up from his seat and follows them, crying, “Out! Out!” all the while.

Before leaving the Tennis Academy, the teens report the incident to Academy staff. Meanwhile, Hyde interrupts and tries to invalidate their story, accusing them of being disruptive and intoxicated.

“I don’t know what drugs they’re on,” he says, insisting that he is a “member of the club” and that he wants the teenagers to leave. The athletes repeat his comment about “cutting grass,” and while some of Hyde’s speech is muffled, his response to the teen is clear as day: “Yes,” he says. “So what?” When a staff member engages in an attempt to solve the conflict, Hyde encourages her to “throw them out,” eventually telling the teens to “shut up” before abruptly walking away.

Latino Rebels reported the story and shared the video on Friday. It has since circulated widely on social media, and as a result, Sarasota’s Bath & Racquet Club has banned Hyde from its premises.

“We have kids from all over the world, Central America, Latin America, who play here and compete to get scholarships for college,” Cary Cohenour, the director of Celsius Tennis Academy, which leases courts to the club, told NBC News. “The whole incident was out of control and though Celsius wasn’t involved, we want people to know that we denounce racism here.”

An active candidate for the District 2 Sarasota City Commission, Hyde planned to quit the race after news of the incident spread. However, he’s since announced that he may continue running. And in spite of the video evidence, Hyde adamantly denies making racist comments to the Puerto Rican tennis players, though he does admit that he acted inappropriately.

“I was rude and I regret that. It was a long day and my kids were being disturbed while they were having their lesson, because the boys were being loud,” Hyde said. “But I simply didn’t say those things, and that’s why they’re not in the video.”

Hyde also denies allegations—made by Twitter user @sergiodilan101, who Latino Rebels have identified as Irizarry’s nephew—that Hyde offered him $50,000 in exchange for the video.

In this Twitter thread, @sergiodilan101 recounts the story in great detail, expressing that before this incident, he and his compañero had never felt so “upset, frustrated, uncomfortable, and sad.” He encourages all Latinos to stand together and support each other in situations like this, and he has received an abundant outpouring of support and affirmation, both from people online, political figures, and family.

“We had a long talk about reality and I explained to him that this guy represents a really small minority and that his behavior wasn’t normal,” Irizarry told NBC News. “I hope by sharing the video we can prevent something like this from happening again.”

Additionally,  Peter Vivaldi, a former Republican candidate for the Florida state Senate—who is also of Puerto Rican descent—responded to the video by saying that “if you’re a public figure . . . you run for everybody, you represent everybody.”

He added, “This is not what we want to represent any party and less do we want that in the state of Florida, where we’re talking about Puerto Ricans that are American citizens. We need to make sure if you’re Republican or Democrat, if you’re saying things that are not appropriate, we need to call you out.”