Food by VICE

The Most Memorable Food Crimes Committed by Florida Men

From a deadly argument over gumbo seasoning to a live alligator thrown into a drive-thru window, Florida is really something special.

by Jelisa Castrodale
Mar 25 2019, 5:11pm

Photos: Getty Images

Earlier this week, a Twitter user who calls herself Swervin Merv challenged everyone to Google “Florida man” and their birthday, then to post whatever fucked up headlines appeared in the search results. As of this writing, her tweet has collected more than 73,000 responses, and yes, we’ve already referenced it once. But the Florida Men just don’t stop (a phrase that may or may not be on Florida’s state seal) and we’ve scrolled past so many unforgettable, unbelievable, or just unspeakable stories that we had to collect a few of them here. If you see your own birthday listed, then make a wish, say a silent thank you that your state doesn’t have Florida’s open-records laws, and try not to do anything that a Florida man would do, ever.

Florida man arrested for throwing alligator through drive-thru window (February 10)
Did you know that an alligator can be considered a deadly weapon? Joshua James knows—or at least, it’s something that he learned when he allegedly threw a live alligator through a Wendy’s drive-thru window. Neither the Wendy’s workers nor the alligator were harmed; the gator was later released safely into the wild. James, though, was charged with assault with a deadly weapon without intent to kill, and a judge ordered him to stay away from all Wendy’s restaurants, and forbade him from owning any animals, other than his mother’s dog.

Men use spaghetti sauce to try to start fire after burglary, deputies say (March 14)
John Silva and Derrick Irving were both arrested after allegedly breaking into their ex-boyfriend’s home and trying to start a fire in his kitchen. The men left a pot of spaghetti sauce on the stove, and placed a washcloth beside the burner, then left the scene. The victim called the cops because he saw movement on his security cameras, and the pair were stopped by an officer before they even got out of the neighborhood. (Irving was also wearing a bull costume at the time, because...Florida?) “It started out as a relationship, that lasted about a week," the victim said of one of the men. "I've let him use my car for four months, maybe he's angry about that. Or maybe he's angry because I gave him $150 to fix his teeth."

Florida man convicted of killing former FSU mascot in gumbo spice dispute (April 22)
Orlando Ricardo Thompson and Caleb Joshua Halley were friends and one-time roommates who both worked at Buddy’s Seafood Market in Panama City, Florida. The two men were both mid-shift at the the market when they got into a serious argument about how much spice went into Buddy’s seafood gumbo. The disagreement got heated, fast, and Thompson grabbed a “decorative sword” from a supply closet and stabbed Halley in the stomach with it. Halley—who spent three years portraying Florida State University mascot Chief Osceola—died of his injuries two days later. Thompson was ultimately convicted of Halley’s murder, and sentenced to life in prison.

Man enters Jacksonville store and chases people with live alligator (July 27)
A man in a black T-shirt and backward baseball cap tucked an alligator under his arm, walked into a convenience store in Jacksonville, and immediately started asking whether the store still had plenty of beer. “Y’all ain’t out of beer are ya? Is he taking the last bit of beer? You aren't taking the last bit of beer are you?" he said, in what sounded like a single run-on sentence. He then chased one person halfway around the store, before grabbing a case of brews and walking to the cash register. “I feel bad for the alligator," Haleigh Aceves from St. Augustine Alligator Farm told First Coast News. I feel bad for all of us, Haleigh.

Police: [Florida] man arrested after attempting strip tease inside steakhouse (August 11)
James Dylan Jordan approached a married couple who were enjoying their meal at the Kobe Japanese Steakhouse in Dunedin, Florida, and apparently decided to see if he could find a way to make them enjoy it slightly less.

He started taking his clothes off and dancing suggestively in front of the woman and, when she told him to knock it off, he “insulted her and threatened to fight her husband.” The cops were called, Jordan’s clothes were collected, and he was charged with disorderly conduct. Bone apple tea!

Man, 88, accused of setting raccoon on fire for eating his mangos (August 17)
In sadder news, 88-year-old Ezra James was arrested and faced charges of animal cruelty after trapping a raccoon and setting it on fire, both because he believed the animal would give him rabies and because it had been eating the mangoes in his yard. After seeing what he’d done, a neighbor called 911, but an unrepentant James called her a “wicked woman” for reporting him. “My business is my business. I don't take my business to strangers," he told WKMG, adding that he would not be apologizing to anyone else who was upset by his behavior. Can raccoons come back as ghosts? Because one of them needs to haunt the shit out of this guy.

Naked man starts house fire while baking cookies on George Foreman grill (September 6)
Florida Man, why are you always naked? The Niceville Police Department responded to a call about a house fire, and discovered a nude man who seemed completely oblivious to what was happening. According to Northwest Florida Daily News, the unidentified man admitted that he’d smoked weed and downed two liters of vodka, which explains why he had no clue that his place was burning. It also explains why he tried baking cookies on a George Foreman grill, then threw some dry towels on it when it caught on fire. It does not explain why his dick was out.

Naked man chases 2 around Palm Coast Chick-fil-A parking lot (September 25)
Cory Hatzl was arrested in the parking lot of a Palm Coast Chick-fil-A restaurant, after he allegedly chased two strangers across the pavement, before removing all of his clothes and shouting, “You’re gay for looking at my penis.”

A 21-year-old woman called the police and, when they arrived, Hatzl directed their attention to his exposed penis as well. He was charged with with disorderly conduct-breach of peace and resisting arrest.

Naked Florida man revealed on video sneaking into restaurant and munching on ramen (November 12)
The St. Petersburg Police Department was reviewing video footage of a burglar who broke into The Chattaway restaurant and helped himself to chicken wings, beer, and $500 worth of other stuff, when they checked the recordings from the night before. THAT night, a different man broke into the restaurant, went into the bathroom and stripped all of his clothes off, and then ate a cup of Maruchan Instant Lunch ramen that he’d brought with him. He also played a set of bongo drums and did some light spray-painting before (mostly) cleaning up and leaving. “He came in with pants on but he rode off on the bike without pants,” a member of the Chattaway staff told the Tampa Bay Times. “I’m not sure if he took his pants with him but we didn't find them. We still don't know where his pants are.”

Florida man tried to pay for McDonald's with bag of weed, police say (December 18)
Anthony Andrew Gallagher rolled up to a McDonald’s in Port St. Lucie, placed his order, and allegedly tried to pay for his McMeal with a bag of weed. When the McDonald’s worker said, nah, they’d rather have actual money, Gallagher drove off—but then he went back to that same McDonald’s a second time and placed a second order. The police caught him that time, and he was charged with marijuana possession and driving under the influence. “It's unclear if Gallagher attempted to pay for his order with drugs the second time,” the Associated Press deadpanned. I think we know, AP. I think we know.

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