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Former Ocala Marine killed fighting Islamic State in Syria

A former Marine who secretly traveled to Syria earlier this year to battle the Islamic State was killed while fighting for a Kurdish militia, his father said Tuesday.

David Taylor Sr. told The Associated Press that his 25-year-old son, David Taylor, told only a high school friend about his plans to join the Kurdish group, and he swore his friend to secrecy. Taylor's father said he didn't even know of his son's plans until after he had arrived in Syria and was training with the group known as YPG.

"I got an email and he said, 'Pops, don't worry. I'm with the YPG,'" David Taylor Sr. said in a telephone interview from his home in West Virginia. "He said, 'I'm doing the right thing. It's for their freedom.'"

A Kurdish militia group released a video saying Taylor was killed on July 16. The U.S. State Department said in a statement that it was aware of reports of a U.S. citizen being killed while fighting in Syria but offered no further comment. Taylor Sr. said a U.S. consular chief from the Kurdistan Region in Iraq informed him of his son's death.

Taylor's high school friend emailed the father after he learned of the death. The friend said Taylor told him during a visit to St. Petersburg Beach, Florida, last February that Taylor believed the Islamic State group needed to be stopped.

"One night he got drunk and told me of the atrocities he had witnessed in the Middle East during his time in the Marine Corps," the friend, Alex Cintron, wrote in an email to Taylor's parents.

Taylor's father shared the email with AP on Tuesday.

"He said to the effect that 'Isis was the bane of modern existence and needed to be stopped before they destroy any more lives and priceless works of human achievement,'" Cintron said in the email.

Taylor grew up in Ocala, Florida, located about 80 miles northwest of Orlando. He attended college in Florida and West Virginia before joining the Marines. He was deployed in Afghanistan, Japan, South Korea and spent time in Jordan before he was discharged last year, said David Taylor Sr.

After his discharge, he came to the United States and visited family and friends in West Virginia, Philadelphia and Florida.

Last spring, he asked his father to drive him to the airport because he had decided to visit Ireland, where his family has ancestral ties.

Taylor Sr. received periodic updates from his son about his travels in Europe until there was a period of silence for several weeks. Soon afterward, Taylor Sr. soon afterward received an email from his son, saying he had joined the Kurdish militia group.


Matt Yee in Washington contributed to this report.

Video shows would-be intruder go door to door at Longwood home

A man who crept around a Longwood home was caught on camera by the homeowner.

"I  was in my bedroom and I heard a funny noise," the homeowner said. "He was literally bending around my blinds. He had to have seen me."

The homeowner did not want to be identified, saying that she was too
the man might go back to her home.

Surveillance video shows the man making his way around the patio, just feet behind the doors of the room in which the homeowner is lying in bed. He walks up to the door and tries to turn the knob several times and then makes his way around the chairs, trying another door nearby.

"He went to every door to try to get in, in my back patio area," she said.

The homeowner said the man even tried to push up the bathroom window.

"He was trying to get in the front door and then he came around the back door, the gate in the pool area, and he was looking. He knew I was in the house," she said.

The homeowner said she has a message for the man and hopes someone recognizes him.

"What you did is violate me and made me feel uncomfortable in my own home, and it's not a good feeling," she said.


The Seminole County Sheriff's Office said it is aware of the attempted break-in and is investigating.

Florida is the worst state in America, website says

When it comes to states, Thrillist says Florida is the worst of the worst. 

On the lifestyle website's "The Definitive and Final Ranking of All 50 States," the sunshine state comes in at 50 out of 50.

Why, you may ask? Well, here's what they wrote:

"When putting together a list such as this, there can be some temptation to defy popular expectations, and go against the grain. However, Florida’s awfulness resume is so staggeringly impressive that it couldn’t go any other way. You were born for this. Embrace it."

The list was ranked on things the state contributes to the country such as inventions, food/drink, famous people, and geographical beauty.

Thrillist ranked Michigan the No. 1 state in America, with Maine, Kentucky, Wisconsin and Louisiana rounding out the top five.

Maybe the list focused more on the crazy news headlines, alligators and sinkholes rather than the beautiful beaches and warm winters. 

Tell us what you think here: 


Gasoline sparks Palm Bay house fire, city officials say

Gasoline spilled on a Palm Bay homes’ garage floor flowed under a dryer causing a fire that city officials said injured one woman and destroyed the house Monday night.

Palm Bay police and fire department responded around 8 p.m. to the home on Glenridge Street.

City spokeswoman Karyn Barber said one woman, estimated to be 35-40 years old, was airlifted to Orlando Regional Medical Center for her injuries. Her injuries are non-life-threatening but severe, Barber said.

The woman, who was not identified, lives in the home with her husband, two young sons and her mother-in-law. No one else was hurt during the fire.

Investigators said the fire was sparked after gasoline spilled in the garage and ran under the dryer. The fire was declared accidental.

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