The startled thief was quick to obey, tossing the purloined wallet on the ground and taking off after Rowe released the grip he had on his arm, then reached down to pick up the stolen item. “There ain’t no money in it anyway,” said the thief as he sped off.
“I let him go because I didn’t know if he might have a weapon,” Rowe wisely explained.
The drama began as Rowe, pictured at work above, was leaving his job as bartender in the cozy Florida House Mermaid Bar on downtown North 3rd Street Saturday evening and heard a woman at the next door Green Turtle yelling that a fleeing bicyclist had stolen her husband’s wallet.
Rowe, who was wearing all black at the time, chased the thief South down 3rd Street, turned left on Ash and caught up with him at 7th St, a four and a half block pursuit. “Because I was in black he may have thought I was a cop,” said Rowe, whose shoulder length blonde pony tail would probably have signaled otherwise if the thief had seen it.
During the pursuit Rowe managed to call 911 on his cell phone and was in contact with the police during almost the entire encounter.
Following the episode the wallet was returned to its owner, Vincente Perez, of Gainesville, who was visiting the area with his wife. Perez offered Rowe a financial reward which was politely turned down but the affable bartender did take Perez up on his offer of a beer. If not for the plucky Florida House bartender, Perez would have spent a lot of time this past week cancelling credit cards, applying for a new drivers license and lots more.
This past Wednesday it was announced that the Fernandina Beach Police Department has charged Lee Barron Williams, Jr., 46 years of age, of 518 South 5th Street with Petit Theft for the crime. Police originally said that if located the thief would be charged with “Robbery by Sudden Snatching,” a felony. Isn’t “sudden snatching” redundant? Just wondering.
Williams claimed that he did not take the wallet from the victim’s person, as reported, but rather that the wallet fell to the ground and he picked it up and ran with the intent to steal the contents.
Police investigators do not believe that Williams is responsible for a separate purse snatch offense which occurred several weeks ago in the same area of town. That investigation, they say, remains open.
Mr. Rowe, who has lived in Fernandina for the last 19 of his 24 years, was commended by Fernandina Police Chief Jim Hurley for his bravery and quick action, which resulted in stolen property being quickly recovered as well as additional suspect information that was developed for law enforcement use in the investigation.. Anyone with information about this offense, or the similar offense that occurred recently in the same area of town, should call Detective Sergeant Tracey Hamilton at 904-310-3215.
Speaking Of Emptying Your Wallet: Earlier this week it looked like the screen on my cell phone was going to pop off so I took it to the Sadler Road AT&T store where I purchased it exactly three years ago this month. The clerk immediately launched into a sales pitch telling me that he could replace my phone for $650. I told him I only wanted this one fixed and he said they couldn’t do that but they could replace it at a price almost triple what I originally paid. I then took the phone to Phone ResQ at 1001 Atlantic Ave, where the folks there quickly explained that the battery was dying and bulging and pushing on the screen. Oh, and while I was there, a lady came in and announced: “My husband forgot to pay you before he left yesterday so how much do we owe you?” The young man behind the counter thanked the lady who paid and I was left thinking: “That’s one of the reasons I like living here so much.” But back to my phone. These good folks repaired it and had it back in my hands in less than one hour for less than $50. I’m also thinking that if the folks working at the AT&T store ever tire of that miserable place they could probably land a job at Comcast where that company is always looking for banal pitchmen. I just wish Phone ResQ sold phone plans. Call Phone ResQ at 904/310-0059 or go to their website at www.phoneresq.com.
No More Miller Time? In a bid to free up time for Fernandina Beach Mayor Johnny Miller to protest local supermarkets that use plastic bags, which is all of them; chastise our city’s corporate citizens from railroads to mills for nonexistent violations; advocate banning oil exploration; speak out against foam ware; disparage nonexistent puppy mills; and travel to Washington D.C. and Tallahassee to meet with likeminded folks who wear little beanies with propellers on top; former City Commissioner Eric Childers has filed to run against the far left activist mayor this November. Rumors have it that Benjamin Morrison, of John Cotner’s local architectural firm, is also thinking about filing prior to the August 5 deadline. If one of these gentlemen is successful Palace Bartender Miller will also have more time to contemplate the tattoo images of far left figures he’ll want to adorn his body, even though I haven’t heard if he fulfilled his Facebook promise to have an image of failed Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders painted on his butt, which is apparently the thinking part of Johnny’s anatomy. Eric or Benjamin won’t provide the unwanted comic relief the goofy mayor does, but either would be a welcome respite for his shenanigans that makes Fernandina look foolish.
From Fred’s To Beds: I hear from several very reliable sources that the now empty Fred’s store at the corner of the downtown Ash and North 8th Street will be torn down to make way for an 18-unit condominium where the ground floor will be retail space with one such commercial unit already planned to be a grocery.
Thug For Hire: As if Jacksonville didn’t have enough criminals already, the Jacksonville Jaguars football team may add to the list of residents with rap sheets as they have invited one of football’s most notorious thugs, Greg Hardy, to camp for a look-see. Why pay outlandish prices for seats at Everbank Stadium when you can go to the county jail during visiting hours and see some of the same folks. Hardy was suspended by the Carolina Panthers in 2014 for violently beating his girlfriend and later signed with the Dallas Cowboys who released him because he’s nothing but trouble on and off the field. Jaguar Coach Gus Bradley must be desperate to sign this guy who in an unapologetic interview on ESPN denied ever laying hands on the woman who said Hardy threw her against a tile bathtub wall, tossed her on a futon covered in assault rifles, and choked her. Photos of her severely battered face and body have appeared in print and online. Oh, his value as a player is as questionable as Coach Bradley’s judgment.
Speaking Of Questionable Decisions: I don’t know about anyone else but I find it appalling that the mother of Michael Brown was a speaker at the Democratic National Convention. Why wasn’t a relative of one of the slain Baton Rouge, Dallas, New York or other police officers and not the mother of the thug who robbed a Ferguson, MO convenience store and was shot and killed by a police officer who was defending himself, a speaker? Michael Brown was not an innocent victim of police. I am baffled and disgusted by the Democrat Party’s lack of support for the country’s police and its encouragement of those who would attack them. Can anyone out there enlighten me? Any member of a police department or the military casting a vote for a Democrat this fall would be committing a suicidal act. Race baiters, liars and rabble rousers Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson also took to the stage making the affair look more like a freak show than a political convention. Oh, during convention week loopy Secretary of State John Kerry actually said that due to the world of climate change that roams around in his obviously frozen brain, that refrigerators and air conditioners are more dangerous enemies worldwide than ISIS. How can anyone with an IQ above 60 vote for a Democrat? Good grief!
The You Never Know Who You Are Going To Run Into Department!
Amelia Island has a number of celebrity residents and visitors, and the two flanking me in the above photo pitched in to lend a helping hand to the Christmas in July event at the Green Turtle Tavern last weekend that collects toys for deserving children. While taking a break from taking orders from area children, Mr. & Ms. Claus took an opportunity to catch up on the latest island news and then tell me they were enjoying the sunshine, a welcome relief from their chilly North Pole home.
Drinking, Dining & Dancing: Florida Times-Union writer Matt Pittman was on Amelia Island recently and took the opportunity to visit the Fernandina Beach’s Salty Pelican, which he provided with one of his trademark slobbering reviews that appeared on the front page of the paper’s Saturday, July 23 Dining section. Despite the fact that I don’t much care for Pittman’s “everything including the tablecloth was incredibly tasty” style of restaurant evaluations, this one will justifiably help business partners Al Waldis and T.J. Pelletier jam even more satisfied customers into their very popular harbor-facing 12 North Front Street location. Pittman’s glowing report of the Pelican’s oysters — raw and broiled — should have the folks in Apalachicola working overtime. He also heaped lavish praise on the restaurant’s seared tuna nachos and he ended saying,”….the Pelican is a must-visit place on the First Coast.” This time Pittman got it all right except for one thing he missed, the one pound peel and eat shrimp for just 16 bucks or the one-half pound peel-and-eaters for just $9.00. These are huge shrimp from just down the road Mayport that not a single place I can find on the island comes close to in a matching price or quality. Call the Pelican at 904/277-3811. I think Tony’s New York Style Brick Oven Pizza next to Publix at 1425 Sadler makes one of the best thin crust pizzas that can be found on or off the island and apparently so do the folks who run the Jacksonville Jaguars football team as restaurant owner Tony Zori told me the other day that Tony’s has been named the official pizza of the Jaguars in a profit sharing deal that enables them to not only operate a pizza kiosk in Everbank Stadium during games, but to also cater exclusively to team functions. Tony has recently opened a much larger second operation in Jacksonville at 2467 Faye Road called Tony’s Kitchen & Bar with an expanded menu and a full bar in a building that was formally a place called Molly Brown’s, and from all reports it has been a smashing success. Call Tony’s island pizzeria at 904/277-7661 or 904/277-7019. Instead of just hugging them, local environmentalists will be soon be able to dine in one of the island’s trees at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort. Mary McGuire of the online NCFL Independent reports that an advertisement in the Aug./Sept. issue of “Garden & Gun” magazine, the Omni is planning to place dining tables at the top of canopy trees. It is, she reports, a goal of the resort’s Executive Chef Daven Wardynski, who is the same wise man who introduced smoked mullet to the Veranda‘s menu a few years ago. I stopped by the Centre Street Amelia Tavern on its first re-opening day Monday, July 25 and it was packed and has been all week. The handful of patrons I spoke to said they liked the new menu but several, said it was pricey and asked “where’s the bratwurst?” The $14 hamburger (one dollar less than one at the Ritz) is back, an $8 pretzel made the cut, and for $8 you can also get an order of fries…but these are pricey I’m told, because they come double fried, drizzled with truffle oil and served with chile de arbol mayo, not exactly the kind of fries you sprinkle with malt vinegar or dip in ketchup. Oh, a strip steak salad comes in at $18 and pot roasted wild mushrooms are $12. Maybe the new crew has its eye on stealing some of the Ritz Carlton’s crowd, because the prices are about the same but entrees don’t come with a room. I never have and never will fork over eight bucks for a pretzel. This is a craft beer tavern with wine bar prices but it appears that the crowds so far don’t care, so maybe they are attracting the Ritz crowd. Gator’s Dockside, a 6000-square-foot sports-themed restaurant, will open its tenth Florida location in the Villages of Amelia shopping center, located in the Chester Road area of Yulee sometime in the late summer or early fall next year. The restaurant is known for grilled wings, but it’ll be hard to match the special Choo Choo ones that are produced at the downtown Crab Trap and can be had on Wednesdays for 75 cents each.