JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The owner of a Westside business explained why a city of Jacksonville code inspector who issued a warning citation over military flags was at his store in the first place on Monday, and it wasn't for the flags.
Shaun Jackrel, the owner of Jaguar Power Sports, spoke exclusively with News4Jax on Tuesday about what started the controversy that has gained national attention.
The city suspended Melinda Power the day after she cited Jaguar Power Sports for a rooftop display and was then captured on surveillance video in a confrontation with a military veteran shopping at the store, who objected to the citation.
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According to Jackrel, the initial reason Power showed up at his business Monday was to issue a complaint, saying the business had all-terrain vehicles and Slingshots, which are three-wheeled motor vehicles, parked in a grassy area between the building and Blanding Boulevard, which is considered the city's right of way.
"She had gotten a tip from someone locally that we had vehicles parked in the right of way, which I didn't know was a government or city piece of property," Jackrel told News4Jax by phone.
Jackrel said his employees immediately moved the vehicles, but that Power didn't like it when he began questioning why the area was considered the city's right of way.
"As soon as we found out about this, she had then gone back to her car for several hours. We thought the situation was taken care of. And then she waited for her supervisor to come back," Jackrel said. "At that time, they stepped back inside the company and started going over citations for things completely not relevant for what she had come in for the first time."
Surveillance video then shows the moment when Power issued the warning citation to Jaguar Power Sports for its rooftop display, which includes two United States flags, a Jacksonville Jaguars flag and flags representing every branch of the military. That's when, as the video shows, the confrontation took place between Power and the customer.
Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said on Tuesday that Power and her supervisor were placed on leave.
"I immediately said yesterday, when I learned of this, 'Withdraw the warning. No citation. Let flags of the military fly,'" Curry told News4Jax.
Power apologized Monday night in a Facebook post that was later removed from her page. In the post, she said, "I have the utmost respect for the military."
She then wrote, "I should never have been unprofessional and disrespectful period. Sincerely apologize."
Jackrel said he doesn't have any ill will toward Power. He said he hopes the incident will be a learning experience and that everyone can move forward.
"I don't think that she should have to lose her job over it," he said. "I do think she owes an apology to the veterans that she did offend."
The owner said business was as usual on Tuesday, but a lot of people asked how they could help out.
Jaguar Power Sports has started selling T-shirts online for $10, and the proceeds will go toward a local military charity.