JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – A dispute on the beach turned ugly when a fisherman pulled a gun on a surfer.
The confrontation happened Wednesday morning just south of the Jacksonville Beach Pier. No one was seriously hurt and no shots were fired.
A viewer sent News4JAX video from a surf cam, asking for answers.
The clip shows what looks to be a peaceful day at the beach, but that changes quickly as a surfer and fisherman get into a confrontation. The longboarder walks up to the angler and the two appear to argue, then there’s commotion. Seconds later, the fisherman pulls out a gun. The surfer then backs away and puts his hands up.
“My first reaction was ‘wow,’ you know, just this is the day and time that we’re in, you know, where you’re seeing more and more confrontations and confrontations result to a firearm being pulled out,” said News4JAX crime and safety analyst Lakesha Burton, who spent more than two decades as a Jacksonville police officer and supervisor. “I think what’s key is de-escalation. I think that’s essential. Practicing de-escalation skills really helps to defuse and can prevent potential violence.”
In this case, the surfer walks away and within seconds flags down a group of lifeguards on patrol.
Jacksonville Beach police responded later, putting the 65-year-old angler in handcuffs. According to the incident report, which News4JAX obtained through a public records request, he had a concealed weapons permit for his handgun and claimed the surfer punched him in the nose after the two argued about fishing lines in the water.
The surfer left so officers couldn’t get his side of the story. They reviewed the video, which showed the surfer making a motion toward the fisherman’s face, but it’s unclear if he actually struck the other man.
The report noted, “Based on the video and the uncooperativeness of the unknown surfer, (the subject) was released and continued to fish.” News4JAX is not naming him because he wasn’t charged with a crime.
Burton said this could fall under a self-defense law known as Stand Your Ground. She believes everyone should have taken a step back and calmed down to avoid any danger.
“At the end of the day, we can always walk away because when you look at this particular situation, just imagine if it would have escalated to somebody being shot, and God forbid, dying,” she said. “And you look at the why behind it. Somebody’s fishing, somebody’s surfing, there was a dispute that could have been settled by just simply walking away or talking through it. So yeah, we got to start chilling out.”
A spokesperson for the lifeguards acknowledged that tension sometimes boils between surfers and fishermen, both competing for the best spot. Guards encourage everyone to respect each other but to call for help if anything gets out of hand. He said the beach continues to be a safe place to visit.