How a Key West bartender and his boss helped solve the fire at a beloved monument
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Who broke the case of the burnt buoy?
Key West Police have obtained assistance in locating two men who they say vandalized the beloved landmark at the southernmost point in the United States
Credit for detective work at a Duval Street bar.
A bartender with a good memory and his boss with a curious mind discovered the names of the suspects after browsing through receipts and security camera footage.
Cameron Briody, who runs a bar at Irish Kevin’s on Key West’s most famous street, woke up on New Years Day to learn that the giant buoy landmark had been marked by a fire that two people had lit next to a burning pine tree.
Vandalism struck a chord on the island. People wanted to see the suspects identified and arrested. The “Coconut Telegraph,” the island’s gossip channel nickname, was of course on high alert.
So how did a bartender turn into a detective?
Briody recognized a face from a Southernost Point webcam video circulating online. He said he served the man on New Years Eve who police later identified as a suspect, Skylar Jacobson, 21, from Henrietta, Texas.
The customer ordered drinks three times and never tipped, Briody recalls.
“I knew immediately that I had served him and that he had used a card, so his name would be on the slips,” Briody said in a Facebook post.
So he immediately called the intelligence work. Daylin Starks, the general manager of the bar, started hunting.
“We have a ton of cameras here,” Starks said. “Because Cameron remembered everything, it was super easy for me.”
“It took five minutes to go through the credit cards and find it,” Starks said.
With the time stamp on the receipt, she then found camera footage which she said showed the two suspects at the bar.
“We could follow them all the time, inside and outside the bar,” Starks said. “We could see them getting rejected by all the girls they were trying to hit on.”
The day after the vandalism, police said they knew who the two suspects were but would not release the names during their search. At the end of the week, they announced they had arrest warrants for Jacobson and David B. Perkins, Jr., 22, of Leesburg, Fla.
Perkins was held in Plantation Key County Jail in the Upper Keys on Friday and released within hours without having to post bail, according to Monroe County Sheriff’s Office online records.
Key West Police name two suspects in vandalism south of Burning Buoy Point
Jacobson also intends to surrender, according to Key West Police spokeswoman Alyson Crean.
Perkins and Jacobson each face a criminal mischief charge with over $ 1,000 in damages.
Stand out in the crowd
In addition to the receipts and the video, Starks found the men on Facebook and Instagram.
Jacobson had two Instagram accounts, but one was private with the “No Cookies” warning, she said.
She told the police she could continue.
“I said, I can create a fake account and be friends with him,” Starks said. “They were like, ‘We’re good.'”
New Years Eve was a huge night for the bars in Key West.
Tourists flocked for drinks along Duval Street and packed two blocks before midnight to watch the ‘drops’ at two bars, including the tradition of a drag queen named Sushi sitting inside ‘a giant red high-heeled shoe that came down as the last seconds of 2021 sold out.
Even amid the high volume of clients, Starks said there are some things that can make a client stand out.
Police reported Briody easily remembered Jacobson’s face as he was the only customer who did not leave a tip.
Starks said Jacobson was also memorable in another way – he wore long, loose shorts with a dark t-shirt, tall black socks, and a backwards baseball cap.
“His outfit was so horrible it was hard not to remember him,” Starks said.
Make a “colossal mistake”
The two suspects in the South Point South Point buoy vandalism case told police they were only in Key West for one day over the holiday weekend.
But they left a lasting impression – as well as a mess for the city to clean up, police said.
Restoration of the charred buoy, which included sanding and repainting the entire 20-ton monument, cost $ 5,379, police said after speaking with the city’s director of community services.
City workers completed repairs to the buoy late last week.
When Perkins returned a message from Key West Police Detective Karl Malsheimer on January 1, he admitted to the vandalism, saying they had no intention of damaging the buoy but made the wrong decision , according to police reports.
“Perkins said it was all filmed and he made a colossal mistake,” Malsheimer wrote.
The couple found the pine tree in Duval Street and dragged it to the buoy. Perkins said they did not originally plan to start the fire. But once they got him to the buoy, he said it was his idea to light the tree with a lighter, police said.
In the video, the tree is lit but goes out after the man with the lighter turns it over. He kneels down and turns it on again.
When asked if they were drinking at the time, Perkins said “they would never have done what they did if they had been in the right frame of mind,” wrote the detective.
“Jacobson admitted that what happened was a big mistake and that they ‘weren’t thinking’,” the report said.
A case of rum as a reward
Briody said he didn’t deserve any credit for the arrests.
“I just remembered serving one guy and things just moved on from there,” he said in a Facebook post. “Daylin’s detective skills definitely solved the case and the rest of the credit obviously goes to KWPD for all of their hard work.”
But he still received a reward: a case of rum.
Paul Menta, owner of a rum distillery in downtown Key West, had promised a deal to the person who could help police identify the suspects.
“There is a lesson for you: Always tip your bartender or he will remember you, for good or bad reasons,” Briody said in a Facebook video with Menta and Key West author David Sloan.
In the video, Menta hands over the rum affair, along with a “Conch Republic” flag, as the three stand in Whitehead and South Streets with the Southernmost Point buoy in the background.
“Thank you for helping us preserve this, keep an eye on it,” says Menta, “and also be a responsible bartender.”
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