Approaching 29 years on the police force for the Village of Key Biscayne Police Department, you’d think Brett Capone had seen it all.
But Saturday night’s reported assault on Crandon Boulevard that sent one man to the Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital certainly was concerning.
“I’ve seen (crimes) come and go in cycles, but to this magnitude? No,” said Capone, the Deputy Chief of the Patrol Operations Division. “We have two of the best detectives I’ve ever seen, terrific detectives, on it right now. ... and they have a great closure rate.”
As of Monday afternoon, it was too early to talk about possible suspects, but Capone did say they are investigating several possible witnesses “to see if they are viable or not.”
The victim’s wife told the Islander News her husband was receiving medical treatment for a broken nose, a broken jaw and other bruises sustained in the incident that took place at about 11 p.m. Saturday on Crandon Boulevard.
She said it’s “a miracle my husband is alive.”
Contacted Monday, the victim’s wife said he is home but “not doing well.” He will be seeing a maxillo-facial surgeon soon.
The altercation took place after the man and his 14-year-old daughter took a late-night spin in their golf cart. According to the man’s wife, she said three teenagers who had been throwing rocks at passing cars then struck the golf cart.
The man stopped the cart at the south end of the Galleria Shopping Center near the dog park and walked across the street to confront the teens. The wife wrote in an email to the Islander News that a verbal argument ensued, and once he turned to go back to the golf cart, one of the teenagers hit him from behind with a skateboard to his face.
She said he “lost consciousness and (fell) on the ground bleeding” before later waking up in an ambulance, which took him to Jackson Memorial.
The three teens then got into a vehicle parked by the side of Village Green Park and took off, according to the daughter, her mom said.
“These are the actions of felons and we will do everything in our power to treat them as such,” Police Chief Charles Press told the Islander News. “I am disturbed beyond words. This disgusting crime needs to be given our most intense response ... I am no longer going to regard the idea that this is simply kids being kids.”
Over the past several weeks, golf carts valued up to $3,500 have been stolen and damaged by juveniles (six of those have been arrested on various charges within the past two weeks). A week ago Saturday night, some 200 youths were spotted descending on Village Green to engage in slap-fighting and “other shenanigans.”
“Covid (boredom, loss of jobs, lack of classroom learning, etc.) has multiplied it 10-fold,” Capone said. “I’ve seen it leading up to this point. ... But we don’t know (in the assault case) if these are younger adults or juveniles until we investigate more.”
Key Biscayne residents are getting fed up with all the mischief, particularly after Saturday’s assault.
“It’s a difficult time for kids; normally, they’re rebels without a cause,” said Gonzalo Alvarado, a native of Argentina who has lived on the island 11 years. “What I don’t get is how stupid, how violent, how aggressive they can be with other people. This is crazy.
“How in the hell are we going to allow a kid to use a skateboard to hit someone in the face? That’s what a criminal does, not what a 19-year-old, or however young he was, does.”
Alvarado has two children, 17 and 21, back in Argentina. He flies there every 45 days to be the best parent he can, sitting down and talking to them about being responsible.
“Sure, when they were kids, they did stupid things, maybe. At some point, we’ve probably all made mistakes,” he said. “But when you do something that compromises the rest of your life, like drinking and driving and hitting someone, for instance ...”
Alvarado said whether the kids in question were 19 or 12 (“the word teenager has a broad range,” he said), they should be prosecuted to the extent of the law.
“It’s common today for (some) parents not to care ... but someone has to be accountable and responsible,” he said. “It’s very sad and totally unacceptable, especially in these days with social justice (being the big issue).”
This past weekend, officers issued “many” citations for underage golf cart usage, and spoke to each of their parents, hoping to prevent additional crimes in the process.
The stadium lights at Village Green were left on “longer than usual,” this weekend. And, Capone said, the department “will enhance” its patrol force starting Friday night.
There remains a midnight weekend juvenile curfew mandated by Miami-Dade County, but Capone said he’s heard the Village Council might soon discuss a way to give the police department authority to institute its own parameters to institute curfews.
“We’re stalled on resources,” Capone said. “We’ve seen the Village grow and grow, and we’re doing more with less. But we’re doing it ... but it’s getting difficult.”
Capone said his wife grew up on the island and they lived on Key Biscayne for 10 years.
“It’s still a safe city,” Capone said. “We’re always one the top five (in the state).”
He doesn’t recommend hiding in your home but rather “enjoy your life on Key Biscayne.”
“I’m not scared,” Alvarado said. “I would love to confront a kid or two.”
Capone’s main advice is to call the police immediately if something looks suspicious.
“We have a terrific response time,” said Capone, who indicated social media posts are fine, but should only be a secondary thought.
At least three of the juveniles arrested in the stolen golf cart cases did not live on the island but might have been invited by children of residents.
“There has to be more parental involvement,” Capone said, echoing Chief Press’ sentiments from the past couple of weeks.
“We’re doing the best we can with what we have,” Capone said. “But we need to crack down and clean this up. ... This, too, will pass.”