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Viral street fight video at Jacksonville park leads to arrest

A viral video of a fight in Simonds-Johnson Park that made its way across the internet on Friday yielded an arrest for the Jacksonville Sheriff s Office. Jontaianna Pitts was arrested Saturday around 7:00 p.m. at the Beauty Depot in Moncrief. She has been charged with aggravated battery, felony battery on a security guard and criminal mischief. The fight occurred on Friday at 3000 Moncrief Road and later at Simonds-Johnson Park at 3730 Moncrief Road. The video shows upwards of 15 people engaging in a fight, including Pitts, who is seen striking a victim several times who is on the ground in the fetal position.

According to a Jacksonville Sheriff s Office Facebook post about the event, during the first fight at 3000 Moncrief Rd. a security guard showed up on scene to break the fight up. Pitts struck the security guard several times in a attempt to stop him from stopping the fight. The security guard suffered several cuts to his arms. An hour and a half later, another fight broke out at Simonds-Johnson Park with Pitts. Pitts had a bat and is seen hitting a victim several times in the head and body while the victim is on the ground. According to police, it is believed that the victim took refuge in a blue Chevrolet, which Pitts is seen kicking in the video as well. Pitts has a prior felony arrest for having a weapon on school property.

Two victims were hospitalized due to this fight.

ARREST MADE IN VIRAL FIGHT VIDEO On Friday, May 19, 2017 police were dispatched to Simonds-Johnson Park located at 3730…

Posted by Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office on Saturday, May 20, 2017[1][2]

Read this story on First Coast News[3]


  1. ^ Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (
  2. ^ Saturday, May 20, 2017 (
  3. ^ Read this story on First Coast News (

Coffee, good friends and iconic Hazleton

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SUBMITTED PHOTO The old gang meets at Senape s Tavern. From left: front, Michael Apichella, Lou Ferdinand; second row, Andy Piskel, Bob Eroh, Gene Rafalli; back row, Joe Yatko, Joe Maggio. While enjoying coffee at Caf Europa earlier this month with my daughter, Maria, I clocked William Jay Cabell. He s the Laurel Mall security guard who keeps the peace under that big roof. I recall once some teenagers were acting up. Cabell nonchalantly strolled over to them, and in seconds flat, he had them laughing, and order was again restored. A less confident guard might ve tried strong-arming the kids. And who knows where that might have ended? I certainly hope the mall pays Cabell what he s worth.

When Jay saw me enjoying my java, he came over, filling me in on the doings in town. Noticing he held a brew bought from another coffee shop, I admitted Caf Europa serves the only kind I can drink nowadays, the stuff I m used to here in Europe, so the name isn t a con. Curious to know more about Caf Europa, I spoke with owner Gaetano Nino Buonsante.

After operating a restaurant in Wilkes-Barre at the Wyoming Valley Mall for 47 years, I decided to come to the Hazleton market after many request from my customers which 30 percent were from Hazleton, he told me. You don t sound like you were born in Wilkes-Barre, said I. No. I was born in the city of Bari, Italy. On the Adriatic coast. How d he get into this business? Easy, according to jovial Nino. America s still the land of opportunity. After working in Brooklyn, New York, in the restaurant business, I got an opportunity to open my own restaurant in Wilkes-Barre.

As I was on my third cup of coffee, I said, for my tastes, his was the best coffee in town. Even decaffeinated has authority, which is all I drink these days. Not surprisingly, he buys only beans that are produced by one of the oldest coffee roasters in the U.S. Knowing that good coffee means different things to different people, all I can say is roasting properly is key to bringing out the aroma and flavor locked inside the green coffee beans, and Nino won t settle for anything but the best roast money can buy. His regulars notice this, too, and I said so. The thing I like about my customers is that they appreciate good quality because they keep coming back, said Nino, and my eight employees and I ve built family relationships with them and the Laurel Mall for 11 years.

Later, I stopped at Rostas on West 15th Street to meet up with businessman and teachers Tom Bellizia, Gary Holodick and Tom Caccese. They often email me, and judging from their stories, each could write his own first-rate column in this paper. However, this was the first we all gathered in person. It was an honor to see them in the flesh. While serving us our pizza, Rostas co-owner, Tony Calucci, said he had a bone to pick with me. You never mention my Corvettes in your car columns, he growled at me through a crooked grin. How come? My bad, Tony. Of course, the Vette spans seven generations, the first being a convertible manufactured in 1953, with some later models arguably being better than others. But the word on the street is Calucci always picks the best ones.

I also turned up at Senape s where there were so many people I know and love, I d need all 901 words in this space to list them by name. One unexpected pleasure was seeing Ann DeCusatis Bladen and her sister-in-law Lisa Gregoire. Lisa s late husband, Dominic Deek DeCusatis, was not only one of my best pals in high school, but following his untimely death almost 30 years ago, I dedicated my first book to his memory. Across the table sat the original Deek, former Standard-Speaker printer Dominic DeCusatis Sr., now in his 90s and going strong. John, one of Deek s two sons, shook my hand. I felt tears as we spoke, so I ducked to a table. Later Ann wrote to me. John resembles Deek a lot. Even some mannerisms surprise me! We had a great time! Senape s looked like a Hazleton who s who for the next two nights. Along with the DeCusatis clan, there were Jim Dino, Wes and Donna Palermo, Joe Yatko, Alice Kender, Joe Delucca, Trish Carpenter-Ferdicha, Ed and Lou Ferdinand, Bob Eroh, Joe Maggio; my cousins Gina Donahue-Connors, and her amazing children Ryan, Mary and Timothy; Tony Greco, Andy Piskel, Gene Rafalli and Pasco Schiavo. I said this list was long, so I ll end with old pals Bobby Salko and Deborah Sypeck-Malloy, Gerry Senape s high-octane waitress in the Nike running shoes. I also had the great pleasure of meeting in person for the first time Deborah s brilliant 11-year-old daughter, Brianna Malloy. What a charmer.

Before leaving town, I enjoyed something I haven t eaten in ages, a Third Base hoagie served up by co-owner Dave Mishinski s beautiful wife, Tina. It s gratifying to know the family tradition begun over 65 years ago by Carl and Geneva Mishinski continues today. There s certainly no need for a Mall Cop there, despite the dozens of energetic kids that still stop by for chow after school. When the teenagers get boisterous, as they often do, Tina s motherly glare and occasional Knock it off puts the fear of God into the rowdiest teen, giving meaning to the Mishinskis motto: Third Base is the closest place to home. More Hazleton-area memories next time. Michael Apichella, a former Hazleton resident, is a writer living in Europe. Visit his website at www.michaelapichella

.com, contact him at apichella [email protected] or follow him on Twitter, @ApichellaPhD.

Pope names cardinals for Laos, Mali, Sweden, Spain, Salvador

In a surprise announcement Sunday, Pope Francis named new cardinals for Spain, El Salvador and three countries where Catholics are a tiny minority: Mali, Laos and Sweden.

“Their origin, from different parts of the world, manifests the universality of the Church spread out all over the Earth,” Francis said, speaking from the window of the Apostolic Palace to thousands of faithful in St. Peter’s Square. The five churchmen chosen are Monsignor Jean Zerbo, archbishop of Bamako, Mali, where he has been involved in peace efforts amid Islamist extremism; Monsignor Juan Jose Omella, archbishop of Barcelona, Spain; Monsignor Anders Arborelius of Stockholm, who became a Catholic at the age of 20; Monsignor Louis-Marie Ling Mangkhanekhoun, apostolic vicar of Pakse, Laos; and Monsignor Gregorio Rosa Chavez, an auxiliary bishop who works as a parish pastor in San Salvador, El Salvador. Francis will formally elevate the five to cardinal’s rank in a ceremony at the Vatican on June 28. Then the new “princes of the church,” as the red-hatted, elite corps of churchmen who elect popes are known, will co-celebrate Mass with Francis the next day, the Feast Day of Saints Peter and Paul, an important Vatican holiday.

Since being elected pontiff in 2013, Francis has made a point of visiting his flock in places where Catholics are in the minority, as well as of working to improve relations between churches and among believers of different faiths. His brief pilgrimage last year to Sweden, where Lutherans are the Christian majority, was hailed by some as instrumental in helping to improve relations between the two churches. While there, he joined Lutheran leaders in a common commemoration of the Protestant Reformation that divided Europe five centuries ago. Arborelius, who is 67, converted to Catholicism when he was 20. In 1998, when he was consecrated as a bishop in Stockholm’s Catholic cathedral, Arborelius became Sweden’s first Catholic bishop, of Swedish origin, since the times of the Reformation,

In Mali, a country bloodied by Islamist extremism, Muslims constitute the predominant religious majority.

Zerbo’s clerical resume reveals him to be a churchman working for reconciliation in society, a virtue repeatedly stressed by Francis. The Vatican noted that Zerbo, 73, who was named an auxiliary bishop of Bamako in 1998 and 10 years later was made that city’s archbishop, has played a role in peace negotiations. Extremists attacked a hotel in Bamako in 2015, killing 19 people. Last month, the U.N. peacekeeping chief for Mali called the security situation there alarming, warning that extremist groups operating under the al-Qaida banner were carrying out more sophisticated attacks and Islamic State militants were slowly making inroads. There has been slow progress in implementing a peace deal reached in June 2015 between Mali’s government, Tuareg separatists and armed groups in the north.

In Laos, the tiny Catholic community has often struggled to persevere, including under communist-led rule. Mangkhanekhoun, 73, was ordained a priest in 1972 and has served as a bishop since 2001. The Vatican paid tribute to his work in visiting faithful in mountain villages. Since early this year, he has served as apostolic administrator in Vientiane. Catholicism has been the majority religion in Spain and in El Salvador, although in parts of Central and South America, evangelical Protestant sects have been gaining converts from the Catholic church. The resume of Chavez, 74, also includes credentials valued by the pope, who has made serving the poor a key focus of the Catholic church’s mission. Chavez heads the Latin American division of Caritas, the Catholic charity. He was appointed an auxiliary bishop in 1982 for San Salvador, where he now will be based as a cardinal after serving as a parish pastor in the city.

Chavez worked closely with the late Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero, who during El Salvador’s civil war was shot to death by a right-wing death squad while saying Mass in 1980. Pope Francis has denounced Catholic clerics who “defamed” Romero after the slaying, a campaign that delayed Romero’s eventual beatification. Francis’ pick for the Spain cardinal’s post, Omella, 71, worked as a missionary in Zaire earlier in his career and serves on the Vatican’s powerful Congregation of Bishops office. Since December 2015, he has been archbishop of Barcelona. In announcing his selections, Francis expressed hope that the new cardinals with their work and “their advice will sustain me more intensely in my service as bishop of Rome, universal pastor of the church.” In other remarks to the faithful in the square, Francis referred to the situation of another Catholic minority Chinese whose loyalty to the pope has put them at odds with authorities of the state-sanctioned Catholic church in China, and sometimes brought persecution.

He prayed that Catholics in China would be able to bring their “personal contribution for the communion among believers and harmony in the entire society.”

Francis is eager to see improved Vatican-China relations. Both sides have for decades been at odds over Chinese authorities’ insistence that they have the right to appoint bishops, a prerogative the Vatican says only belongs to the pope.

He urged Catholics in China to “stay open to meeting and dialogue, always.”