Reggae Sunday falls victim to brutal bar brawl
Viral video questions apparent excessive force used by bouncers
ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – Reggae Sunday at The Conch House has been halted after an investigation into the alleged excessive force used by security guards during a Memorial Day weekend brawl was started.
The fights broke out at the Conch House Marina Resort around 7:30 p.m. Sunday and much of the mayhem was caught on camera, showing Conch House bouncers punching and kicking patrons.
"The Conch House Marina Resort is investigating the altercation that occurred on Sunday, May 24, 2015, during Reggae Sunday. We are working with City officials and law enforcement and conducting our own investigation and review of the incident to determine the cause and persons involved. We have decided to not hold Reggae Sunday until we have had time to conclude our investigation," a statement from The Conch House read.
Some residents in the area aren't surprised about what happened at the restaurant and are happy a have a break from the regular Sunday event.
From loud music, to public intoxication, David Kubiak said he's seen and heard it all living near the Conch House.
"You can't put that many drunk people together in one confined area and not expect stuff to happen," Kubiak said. "My roommate found a set of gold teeth sitting there, like a gold grill. I saw a guy who was wasted and he took refuge in our driveway for a moment, and when he left, he left his gold grill. Just to give you reference to the clientele."
Kubiak and his girlfriend have dubbed closing time on Sunday at The Conch House "watching zombies," from the amount of inebriated people who flood the streets headed home from the bar.
"I've seen people get pulled over for going 80. I've seen car accidents. I've never seen a fight, per say out here, but I've seen people yelling at each other," Kubiak said. "It just gets old. I'm over it. Picking up the beer cans and trash. There was a girl that peed in our driveway. We have no idea who she is, but my girlfriend looked out the window and she's like there's a girl peeing in our driveway, so."
The St. Augustine Police Department is also investigating the fight and police said that several customers had to go the hospital with serious injuries, though no charges have been filed.
Since the video went viral, witnesses and victims have come forward saying the bouncers were aggressive and dangerous.
They claim the security staff punched customers in the face and even pushed someone into the water after knocking that person out.
Some people believe the bouncers should be held accountable for the violence that ensued.
Isaac Morales is a 6-foot-6-inch, 310-pound former football player, and although he has been a bouncer all across the country he's never seen anything like what happened at The Conch House.
"Half of the guys are punching and kicking, and random punches are not allowed when you do security work. You don't have the right to just go punch somebody in the face just because. You control the situation, you grab them, you take them out of the situation," Morales said. "I would say at least half of the security guards (crossed the line). The other half, they were trying to break it up, trying to keep the peace, trying to drag the problems out, which is what you're supposed to do. The other half, I don't know what they were doing."
No longer working security, Morales is now a co-owner and physical trainer at Body Control in Bartram Springs. But after years of working in the industry, Morales said that bouncers need to be better trained and selected so incidents like this don't happen.
"If you are big, over 6 foot, you work out, you could probably go bounce anywhere. Without having to get any certifications, without any training. They say go stand by that door and if stuff gets crazy you start taking people out," Morales said.
St. Augustine police continue to investigate the brawl and are working with the State Attorney's Office to see if anyone should face criminal charges.
They said they're waiting for surveillance video from the business to get another look at what happened.
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