Florida has a bit of a reputation when it comes to crime. No one knows whether it's something in the water, due to the incessant heat or simply a result of the state's liberal open-records laws, but so-called Florida Man (and woman and teen) has become a national legend for weird crimes like naked burglary or stalking the streets, armed, while dressed like a dinosaur. If no one is calling the cops on them, Florida Man is known to stand shirtless in a hurricane while blasting Slayer, or to call 911 themselves to report a lack of vodka or just to talk about Hitler. Even when they are not committing crimes, Florida Man can be seen walking into the hospital with a dead shark still attached to their arm, or taking three days to discover that he shot himself, or being sucked into a nuclear power plant. Their reputation appears to be well earned. To celebrate their ignominious accomplishments, here are the 10 Best Florida Man stories of 2016, so far.
A Florida man had a hankering for waffles (perhaps with a side of smothered, covered and chunked hashbrowns) and wasn’t going to let the fact that he didn’t have a ride get in his way.
Last June, Marcus Trae Johnson, 28, stole a van and drove it straight to a Waffle House, the Northwest Florida Daily News reported. Police tracked the van’s GPS and found a man similar to the one they had seen on the surveillance tape eating at the Crestview, Florida Waffle House. Police found clothing in the stolen van that matched what Johnson was wearing in the surveillance video. Johnson told officers that "he didn’t know anything about the van" and didn’t know why it was in his yard. He also denied that he was the man in the surveillance video.
Johnson was arrested and charged with grand theft auto. If only they served Waffle House hashbrowns in jail.
Emotions are always high when a new baby is being born, but especially so when a love triangle is involved. When Trayevon Braye found out his ex-girlfriend was giving birth to their child last May, he ran to be in the hospital room, according to the Sun Sentinel. Unfortunately, the mother of his child was there with her new boyfriend – and she didn’t want Braye in the room. Braye and the new beau got in a war of words. Braye eventually left the room, but emotions got the better of him and he returned. This time the fight turned physical. As the scuffle broke out, the laboring woman ended up getting kicked in the chest by Braye. Security guards rushed into the room and it took three of them to hold Braye down.
He was escorted out of the hospital room, arrested, and jailed on charges of aggravated battery on a victim that the offender should have known was pregnant and assault, the Sun Sentinel reported.
Florida woman Dusty Rae Ingram was being processed for a stint in Okaloosa county jail last January when police made a surprising discovery – a stash of pills hidden in her genitals. More surprising was the fact that the 38-year-old Crestview woman claimed she had no idea how they had gotten there. According to Northwest Florida Daily News, Ingram admitted that the drugs were hers, but claimed that she kept the prescription medication in her purse and had no idea how they had traveled from her bag to her lady-parts.
After being read her rights, Ingram eventually admitted that while she had a prescription for the pills, she knew that she couldn’t bring them into the jailhouse and came up with her intimate drug-smuggling scheme. She was charged with bringing contraband into a detention facility, which is a felony.
She should strike up a jailhouse correspondence with the Florida man who had no idea how crack got in his mouth.
Last February, a Florida man went to a drive-thru restaurant and made his own delivery. Joshua James, 23, pulled into the drive-thru of a Wendy’s in Loxahatchee, Florida, around 1:30 a.m. and after the server handed him a drink, James reached into the back of his truck, grabbed a three-and-a-half foot alligator, and threw it through the restaurant’s drive-thru window. He then sped away, according to local NBS affiliate WPTV. The restaurant workers called the police to come get the good-sized gator out of their restaurant. Police were able to track down James via surveillance footage and his credit card purchases. James was arrested and charged with aggravated assault and unlawful possession and transportation of an alligator. The alligator was rescued and released in a nearby canal. At his court appearance, the judge came down hard on the young man, because "this type of thing is not a prank. It's a crime." According to the Sun Sentinel, he sentenced James to one year of probation, a $500 fine and 75 hours of community service. James was also ordered to stay out of all Wendy's restaurants.
A Florida man was visiting Busch Gardens Tampa with his family, when he reached into an animal pen and attacked a dancing flamingo. According to WFLA, Joseph Anthony Corrao, 45, picked up one flamingo and set it down unharmed. He then picked up a second flamingo, whose name was Pinky, and when his mother told him to stop harassing the birds, put the bird down so forcefully it’s foot was almost completely severed from its leg. Corrao was arrested and charged with felony animal cruelty. When asked about Corrao’s motive, the Tampa Police Department said that was "the question of the day," according to WFLA. The amusement park released a statement saying that the flamingo had to be "humanely euthanized" due to the severely traumatic injuries sustained in the assault. "Pinky was a beloved member of the Busch Gardens Tampa Bay family and made many appearances on behalf of the park’s conservation and education efforts," a statement read. "She will be sorely missed." Perhaps Carrao can join a rehabilitation group with this Florida man who was arrested for punching a swan and this Florida man who tried to ride a manatee.
While prank calling the local pizza shop is the preferred activity of many teenage slumber parties, a grown-up Florida man took the joke too far. According to local paper TCPalm, police were called into investigate after pizza shops in Sebastian, Florida, reported a string of provoking phone calls made over the course of a three-week reign of terror this summer. A man would call, order pizza and then refuse to pay, or he would send drivers to fake or abandoned addresses, or simply call to harass the restaurant. Pizza shops estimated he had cost them at least $667 in pizza.
The caller was clever enough to use a variety of fake phone numbers and names, but police eventually tracked him down. He was charged with four counts of harassing phone calls, two counts of first-degree petty theft, and one count of second-degree petty theft. The true penalty of his crime, though, is that he has been banned from ever ordering a pizza again. He may have preferred jail time.
Malachi Love-Robinson wants to be a doctor when he grows up, so he’s getting a little practice now. In January 2015, the then-17-year-old was caught pretending to be a doctor at St. Mary's Medical Center, in West Palm Beach, Florida – he even observed gynecological exams. The hospital didn’t press charges against Love-Robinson, because he hadn’t interacted with any patients. The enterprising teen took that as a sign to go ahead and open his own "medical" clinic. According to the Sun-Sentinel, Love-Robinson opened the New Birth New Life Holistic and Alternative Medical Center and Urgent Care in West Palm Beach and billed himself as Dr. Love-Robinson. But he didn’t claim to be an M.D., but rather a PhD as well as "HHP-C" and an "AMP-C," although no one is quite sure what those designations mean. The health department caught on to his scheme pretty quickly and shut the clinic down last February. He was arrested for fraud and practicing medicine without a license, but protested, saying, "I'm hurt because of the accusations and allegations. But like I said, this is not the first time where I've been accused and I will pursue this. And when I do, you guys will know."
Love-Robinson was arrested again in September, although not for practicing medicine without a license, but for purchasing a Jaguar with an elderly co-signer who didn’t remember agreeing to the loan. He is awaiting a hearing in November.
Herbert Hayden is a bad sport. The 81-year-old man was playing shuffleboard at the Pinellas Park Senior Center near St. Petersburg, Florida, when a disagreement turned violent. According to The Smoking Gun, Hayden flew into a rage over a perceived shuffleboard slight and "had a verbal argument that escalated into a physical altercation." According to court records, Hayden allegedly punched the victim in the face and "hit him with his shuffleboard cue causing damage to both cues." The victim ended up with four-inch scratches down his face and, undoubtedly, a serious grudge against both Hayden and shuffleboard.
Employees broke up the fight and Hayden was arrested on a misdemeanor battery charge and booked into the county jail. A judge later issued an order barring Hayden from having any contact with his victim, which shouldn't be too difficult as Hayden apparently has plenty of choices on where to play shuffleboard in St. Pete.
Russell Francis Gomez showed up late to work at fast-food spot the Krystal, but when he found out he would be written up for the infraction, he flipped his burger. The 29-year-old Gomez started throwing frozen hamburger patties at his boss. As he chucked frozen chuck, the store manager tried to escape to his office, and Gomez began knocking over equipment and pouring cooking oil on the floor, according to Action News Jax.
As Gomez’s tantrum continued, other Krystal employees helped customers escape the meaty melee. Gomez then moved on to other forms of property damage. According to police, he "flipped the circuit breakers, overturned trash cans, and damaged electronic equipment." Gomez tried to flee the scene, but two customers blocked him from leaving, because he was "saying he was going to return and making threats toward the manager," the police department’s statement explained. Gomez spat in the face of one of the customers who "grabbed and restrained Gomez" until police arrived.
While police took statements, Gomez tried to make a break on foot, but was quickly caught.
Gomez was booked into the Columbia County Jail on three counts of aggravated battery, as well as assault, criminal mischief and resisting an officer without violence. When police ran his record, they found that he was also driving with a suspended license and ended up facing additional charges.
A 25-year-old woman was unhappy last February when a chef at Palm Coast Pizza in Palm Coast, Florida, topped her garlic knots with cheese. Jessica Conti was horrified at the thought of cheesy garlic knots and demanded her money back. The cashier complied, but Conti thought her attitude was rude. That’s when her three friends stormed the restaurant, according to the Daytona Beach News-Journal. The three men started a free-for-all, knocking a fax machine and cash register off the counter and throwing food and boxes around the pizzeria. As cheese-haters are wont to do, one of the crew picked up a glass parmesan container and threw it at a television screen, damaging the set.
Employees called the police as the melee continued, but the anti-cheesy garlic knot crew left the restaurant before officers arrived. Luckily, someone at the restaurant was able to identify the group, though, and deputies soon had them in custody. They were charged with burglary and criminal mischief. Perhaps they should try this Florida man’s unique excuse for their vandalism.