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Locals concerned for safety at beach

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Updated: 5/29/2013 11:53 pm
JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. -- Many in the Jacksonville Beach community are taking a stand after several fights took place near the beach on Memorial Day.

"All you see is these young men kicking my son," says Stephanie West, the mother of Anthony Jones. Jones is seen being beaten in cell phone videos that have surfaced of two attacks that took place during the holiday celebration.

"My son said they jumped him and his friends one time. They got away. They ran. The guys ran behind them, jumped them again."

West believed her son was safe at the beach that day, and now she's frustrated.

"You should be able to go where you want to go, when you want to go, and don't have to worry about nobody messing with you."

Sonny Bhikha is frustrated too. The general manager of three Jacksonville Beach hotels, including the Quality Inn Oceanfront near the spot where one of the fights took place, calls the incident unique.

"Saturday and Sunday were normal days at the beach with families and many children, but Monday was a different day. ...This is not a location where people come out to party, to create problems.. ..I've never seen it before. If I'd seen it before than it would have been an issue a long time ago."

Bhikha says the beach community has worked hard to be family friendly, and it's a reputation it can't afford to lose.

"I spoke to other business owners and they're disgusted as well. ...Tourism is so important to this area. ...I want to create memorable memories. I don't want them to come here and say I'm never coming back."

Bhikha believes the community is resilient and that the city will be ready if this violence like this ever happens again.

"They are going to figure this out and we're going to be ready if an incident like this every happens again."

But that's something West hopes no other mother has to go through.

"I'm not gonna stop until justice be served. Whatever I've got to do as a parent, that's what I'm going to do."

Police Chief Pat Dooley tells Action News the investigation is ongoing, and is made complex by the number of witnesses and people involved in the attacks.

No arrests have been made.

Dooley says patrols will be increased every weekend and during major events, including July 4 when officers from the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office will assist as they have in years past.

Jacksonville Beach Mayor Charlie Latham is out of the country, but says "I am in regular contact with the City Manager and Chief of Police. The situation Memorial Day weekend was handled well by our Police Department and our Chief of Police made all the right decisions to get the situation under control quickly. After I return on June 6th, we'll be looking at exploring appropriate long-term actions to minimize similar type issues in the future."

The next regular meeting of the Jacksonville Beach City Council is scheduled for Monday, June 3, but according to a news release sent Wednesday afternoon by Sgt. Tommy Crumley of the Jacksonville Beach Police Department, reports of a "town hall" meeting to discuss the violence at 6:30 that evening is "misinformation," and no such meeting has been scheduled by city leaders.
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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of Action News Jacksonville

imtellin - 5/30/2013 3:55 PM
0 Votes
what's the fuss gus,, da bruddersfrom da hood wuz beatin some a da udder brudders,, for bein on theys beach period... no harm,, no foul !!! shoulda sold tickets to the event,, dummies.. i'ld a paid to see that !!!

Truthseeker - 5/30/2013 4:55 AM
1 Vote
Too many thugs in da pool!!!

Wanker - 5/30/2013 12:15 AM
2 Votes
I drove through there on Monday and seen a butt load of blacks running around like animals. Then I see on the evening news this went down. No shocker there. Racial profiling works, use it.

dan the man - 5/29/2013 11:24 PM
2 Votes
Do you see the video a bunch of uncivilized baaboons.
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