Look back at the top Central Florida, national stories from 2021

From the Capitol Riot to omicron, here are the biggest stories of the year

News 6 political analyst Jim Clark said Wednesday's riots will go down in history.

ORLANDO, Fla. – With the COVID-19 pandemic still going on, 2021 has been a year.

From vaccine rollouts to staffing shortages and a new variant of the coronavirus being identified, there has been a lot that dominated this year in regard to the pandemic. And the news did not stop at COVID-19.

As the year wind downs and we welcome 2022, we’re taking a look back at the top headlines from the last 12 months. Here’s the full break down:

January 2021

Trump supporters invade US Capitol

Angry supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 in a chaotic protest aimed at thwarting a peaceful transfer of power, forcing lawmakers to be rushed from the building and interrupting challenges to Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. Arrests in the violent riot are still being made almost one year later. Click here for our full coverage.

‘Do you need help?’ Orlando restaurant manager uses secret sign to help rescue abused boy, police say

An observant manager at an Orlando restaurant helped rescue a boy who police say was the victim of severe child abuse, including being suspended upside down from a door, by secretly holding a sign that only the child could read. Click here to read the full story.

February 2021

Young Florida women dressed as grannies to get coronavirus vaccine — and it may have worked

With bonnets on their heads and bespectacled faces, two young women pretended to be seniors so they could get the coronavirus vaccine, and it seems their ruse may have actually worked at least one time. Dr. Raul Pino, of the Florida Department of Health in Orange County, said the pair was busted when they tried to get their second shot at the Orange County Convention Center. Click here to read the full story.

Conservative talk radio icon Rush Limbaugh dead at 70

Rush Limbaugh, the talk radio host who ripped into liberals, foretold the rise of Donald Trump and laid waste to political correctness with a merry brand of malice that made him one of the most powerful voices on the American right, died on Feb. 17. He was 70. Click here to read the full story.

March 2021

‘I think we’re in the Black section:’ Couple says Orlando restaurant segregated diners

A New Jersey couple came forward after a dining experience at Maggiano’s Little Italy at the Pointe Orlando location, accusing the restaurant of practicing segregated seating. Click here for the full story.

Merritt Island park now a ‘manatee graveyard’ as Florida sea cows starve to death

In early March, at least 403 manatees were recorded dead as a result of starvation. Now, more than 1,000 manatees have died as areas lose seagrass to algal blooms. A family witnessed the famine in real time along the banks of Manatee Cove Park on Merritt Island. The paradise they once padded through in this remote, mangrove-lined cove now looks lost — like an elephant graveyard. Except it’s manatee bones that litter the shoreline, not tusks. Click here to read the full story.

‘He is a hero:’ Orlando officer Kevin Valencia dies after being shot during 2018 standoff

Orlando police Officer Kevin Valencia died from injuries he suffered during a standoff on June 11, 2018, when he was shot. Valencia officially retired on Oct. 20, 2020, from the department and was awarded a Purple Heart. Click here to read the full story.

April 2021

Staffing shortages impact Central Florida restaurants

April marks one of the busiest times of the year in Volusia County, with spring break, Bike Week and other big events taking place, but dozens of restaurant owners said they’ve either had to close early or reduce capacity because of the lack of staff. The same problem was seen at an Orlando restaurant when it had trouble finding staff.

Flawless SpaceX launch with 4 astronauts from Kennedy Space Center

SpaceX successfully launched four astronauts from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on the company’s third mission carrying humans to the International Space Station. As the second long-duration mission flying via SpaceX Crew Dragon, the four astronauts — two American, one Japanese and one European — make up the Crew-2 mission. Click here to read the full story and rewatch the launch.

May 2021

‘Horrific would be an understatement:’ Tristyn Bailey stabbed 114 times while fighting killer, prosecutors say

Prosecutors said they charged 14-year-old Aiden Fucci as an adult on first-degree murder charges in the homicide of his 13-year-old schoolmate, Tristyn Bailey, after reviewing all of the evidence showing the young victim suffered a “horrific” attack before her death. Fucci was arrested on a second-degree murder charge in Bailey’s death earlier this month, but updated documents showed prosecutors were seeking to upgrade the charge to first-degree murder. Click here to read the full story.

June 2021

‘Unbelievable:’ Children, 12 and 14, use AK-47, other guns in shooting rampage on Volusia deputies

Two foster children broke into a Volusia County home, Tuesday night, then used guns they found inside the residence — including an AK-47 — to repeatedly fire at deputies for about 30 minutes, according to sheriff’s officials. Click here to read the full story.

Orange County deputy suspended over TikTok videos

News 6 learned an Orange County deputy received a three-week suspension after an internal sheriff’s office investigation concluded that she posted videos on the social media platform TikTok that showed her dancing to explicit music while dressed in her uniform. Click here to read the full story.

Condo collapses in Surfside, trapping residents in rubble and twisted metal

The June 24 collapse at the oceanside Champlain Towers South killed 98 people when it fell overnight. The collapse, which appeared to affect one leg of the L-shaped tower, tore away walls and left a number of homes in the still-standing part of the building exposed in what looked like a giant dollhouse. Click here to read the full story.

Daytona Beach police officer shot in head while on duty

The search for a man who is accused of shooting a Daytona Beach police officer in the head ended when officers found the man hiding in a treehouse on a property in Atlanta. Click here to read the full story.

July 2021

Water park? Disney guests swim in flooded Magic Kingdom streets

Rain and theme parks don’t mix, but for some it was the perfect opportunity to continue the fun. A weather system moved over Disney World and the streets around Cosmic Ray Café became flooded, according to photos shared with News 6. While some guests took shelter from the rain, others, mostly children, decided to enjoy the “water park” that formed inside Magic Kingdom. Click here to see the fun.

Families sue Universal Orlando after actor made white-power ‘OK’ gesture posing with girls

Two families sued Universal Orlando after separate incidents during which an actor playing the “Despicable Me” movie character Gru made a racist hand gesture while posing for photos and video with biracial children. The civil rights lawsuit was filed on behalf of two girls, who were 5 and 6 years old at the time of the photos, in the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court in Orange County on June 23. Click here for the full story.

August 2021

Spirit cancels 227 flights, stranding hundreds at Orlando airport

Frustration was the name of the game at Orlando International Airport after 227 Spirit Airlines flights were canceled nationwide. Some passengers said they waited 12 hours before they were able to talk to a Spirit employee. Others said they had been at the airport for 24 hours due to the cancellations. Click here for the full story.

Thousands of Florida unemployment accounts blocked by DEO security measure

Thousands of Florida unemployment accounts were locked without warning in a move to counter a potential data breach that targeted nearly 58,000 Department of Economic Opportunity Connect accounts. Click here for the full story.

September 2021

Florida minimum wage increases. Here’s where it stands now

Minimum wage workers across the state of Florida got a pay hike, coming nearly one year after 61% of Florida voters passed Amendment 2 in the November 2020 general election. Click here to read the full story.

Gabby Petito’s boyfriend named person of interest after cross-country road trip

The boyfriend of 22-year-old Gabby Petito who was reported missing this week after a cross-country road trip has been named a person of interest in her disappearance, according to police. Petito and Laundrie had been documenting their road trip on social media, including on a YouTube channel with a single video uploaded on Aug. 19. Click here to read the full story.

‘Bring her home:’ Family of missing 19-year-old last seen near UCF pleads for help

The Orange County Sheriff’s Office said Miya Marcano was last seen at the Arden Villas apartments near the University of Central Florida. Marcano’s father told News 6 his daughter was supposed to fly to Fort Lauderdale when she missed her flight. Click here for the full story.

October 2021

Prime suspect in Miya Marcano’s disappearance accused of suspicious behavior at Seminole County apartment complex

A police report provided by the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office reveals the prime suspect in Miya Marcano’s disappearance for Arden Villas is no stranger to suspicious behavior. In March, Armando Caballero, 27, was accused of throwing a weight through a woman’s bedroom window after she turned him down for a date. The alleged incident happened on March 17 at the Sabal Club apartments in Seminole County where investigators said the 27-year-old was found dead from an apparent suicide on Sept. 27, two days after Marcano was last seen. Click here for the full story.

November 2021

Florida woman who sued for ivermectin dies from COVID

A Florida teacher hospitalized with COVID-19 died after her husband unsuccessfully sued to force doctors to treat her with ivermectin, a drug popular among some skeptics of accepted coronavirus treatments despite a lack of studies proving its effectiveness. Click here for the full story.

Ex-NFL player Zac Stacy accused of attacking woman in Florida

Former NFL running back Zac Stacy was arrested in Florida after being accused of attacking a woman inside an Oakland home. The victim told police she and Stacy have a child together, allowing him to see the child as an “olive branch” as they were in mediation. Click here for the full story.

December 2021

Here’s what we know about the omicron variant of COVID-19 so far

Florida and other states in the U.S. are once again seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases. This time, the surge is happening as a new variant of the coronavirus is spreading rapidly. Omicron has raced ahead of other variants and is now the dominant version of the coronavirus in the U.S., accounting for 73% of new infections, according to federal health officials. Click here for the full story.

About the Author:

Brenda Argueta is a digital journalist who joined ClickOrlando.com in March 2021. She graduated from UCF and returned to Central Florida after working in Colorado.