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West Orange Times & Observer Monday, Jun. 3, 2019 2 months ago

Police still searching for B.J. Haggins

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The Winter Garden teen was last seen Friday, May 31, near Zanders Park and Bouler Pool. An Amber Alert was issued on the possible abduction.
by: Amy Quesinberry Community Editor

Bruce “B.J.” Haggins Jr. is more than just a mugshot.

B.J. is the 16-year-old who will help a neighbor with raking or mowing chores, he is the big brother who occasionally lets his baby sister boss him around, and he is “a helluva football player,” said his father, Bruce Haggins Sr., of Winter Garden.

“B.J. is the type of person … who would give you the shirt off his back,” Haggins said. “He is very nice, very caring, loving and sharing. He doesn’t like anybody getting bullied. All the kids around the neighborhood will tell you; if anybody tried to bully the smallest guy, he would go after the guy. He doesn’t like to see anyone get bullied.”

Haggins is appealing to the community to help find his son, B.J., who police say was the victim of a possible shooting and abduction Friday, May 31.

The father is distraught over his son’s disappearance and hopes that someone will come forward with information leading to B.J.’s whereabouts. He’s anxious, too, to have the community see a photo of B.J. other than the mugshot that has been circulating.

When a child is abducted, it’s a scramble to get his or her photo out to as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time. Sometimes the available photo happens to be a mugshot.

Haggins said B.J. is an excellent son, but he acknowledges that the teen did have a brush with the law when he and a friend were arrested and charged with taking a child’s scooter and spent 14 days at the Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center.
B.J. paid restitution and the charges were dropped, Haggins said.

Haggins has had custody of his son since he was two years old. B.J. was diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder when he was younger and sometimes struggled in school, Haggins said, so he was transferred from Maxey Elementary to Dillard Street Elementary after the third grade because of the special programs available.

B.J. attended Lakeview Middle School, as well, and will be a junior at West Orange High School in the fall. His father said he was supposed to start summer school this week to make up a few failed classes so he could play football in the fall.

“I have no idea what’s going on,” Haggins said. “I went to McDonald’s to get some breakfast. When I came back, he was gone.”

Haggins said he misses his son and hopes he will return safely.

“His smile just lights up your day,” Haggins said. “I call him my Big Jolly Giant.”

Amy Quesinberry is the community editor of the West Orange Times & Observer and the Windermere Observer. She was born and raised in Winter Garden, grew up reading the community newspaper and has been employed there as a writer, photographer and editor since 1990....

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