TAMPA — A Marine reservist armed with a tire iron beat and chased a man he thought was an Arab terrorist and even called 911 to say he was detaining the man, police said. But the man he assaulted was actually a Greek Orthodox priest visiting from overseas who spoke limited English, police said. That’s why police arrested reservist Jasen D. Bruce on a charge of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. Police said they’re also investigating whether Bruce, 28, committed a hate crime.
The incident took place around 6:35 p.m. Monday, police said. The priest, Alexios Marakis, 29, is from Crete, Greece. He is visiting St. Nicholas Greek Cathedral at 17 E Tarpon Ave. but police said he was in the Westshore area to bless another retired Greek priest. But Marakis apparently got lost and exited northbound Interstate 275 into downtown Tampa, police said. The priest followed several cars into the Seaport Channelside Apartments on Twiggs Street. He got out of his car and asked Bruce for help.
Instead of offering help, Bruce struck the priest on the head with a tire iron, police said. He then chased the priest for three blocks to the Madison Avenue and Meridian Avenue, police said, and even called 911 to say that an Arabic man tried to rob him. Bruce said he was going to take the Arab into custody. When police arrived, Bruce told them the victim was a terrorist.
The priest was taken to Tampa General Hospital. There, a translator helped Marakis speak to police. Then officers went to Bruce’s apartment to speak to the reservist again. But he already had an attorney with him and refused to speak, police said. The priest was treated and released from the hospital.
Records show Bruce was released from the Hillsborough County jail at 8 a.m. Tuesday on $7,500 bond. His occupation is listed as sales manager of a Palm Harbor pharmacy.
Tags: mass hysteria
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