Pier banner vandalism suspect arrested

AM Pier Vandalism
This Anna Maria City Pier restoration project was one of two banners vandalized on Sunday, July 15. - Joe Hendricks | Sun

ANNA MARIA – Holmes Beach resident Michael Lee Brown was arrested on Thursday, July 19, on a third-degree felony charge of criminal mischief ($1,000 or more) in connection with two Anna Maria City Pier restoration project banners that were vandalized on Sunday, July 15.

Anna Maria Public Works Manager Dean Jones and Mayor Dan Murphy learned of the vandalism that morning and surveillance camera photographs of the suspect were then circulated to local media outlets.

Located near the foot of the Anna Maria City Pier that is currently being demolished, the damaged banners contained renderings of the new pier and pier buildings slated for completion in late 2019.

AM Pier Banner Slashed
This Anna Maria City Pier restoration project banner was slashed in the early morning hours of Sunday, July 15. – City of Anna Maria | Submitted

According to the arrest affidavit, Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Amy Leach arrested Brown at his Holmes Beach residence at 10:45 a.m. Thursday morning. According to an affidavit, Brown lives at 6401 Marina Drive, Apt. B, in Holmes Beach.

AM Pier Vandal Arrest
Holmes Beach Resident Michael Lee Brown was arrested Thursday morning in connection with the recent pier banner vandalism. – Manatee County Sheriff’s Office | Submitted

As of Friday afternoon, Brown was still in custody at the Manatee County Central Jail in Palmetto.

“On 7/15, at approximately 0303 hours (3:03 a.m.), according to sworn statements and video evidence, the defendant did violate Florida State Statute by arming himself with a bladed weapon and slashed the city of Anna Maria’s new pier banners. The defendant was located at his residence after being identified by several citizens of the Island of Anna Maria. The defendant post-miranda stated that’s been his picture in the paper all week according to the affidavit.

“According to video evidence, the defendant rode his bicycle to the entrance of the City Pier at approximately 0303 hours on 07/15, which is under construction and is posted in several places. The defendant then walked up to the banner, stepped up on the bench, and with a bladed weapon he pulled from his pocket he slashed the banner in a crisscross direction. After he slashes both banners, he gets back on his bike and rides away. The value of the banners is $3,682.08,” the affidavit says.

“I am happy that a suspect is in custody and hope we can discover who or what might have influenced him to commit to such an act,” Murphy said on Friday.

Manatee County court records indicate Brown has been arrested, cited, fined and/or convicted on several previous occasions.

On July 7, 2014, Brown was arrested by the Holmes Beach Police Department and later convicted on a first-degree misdemeanor charge of trespassing after notice on property other than a structure or conveyance.

On March 11, 2014, Holmes Beach Code Enforcement issued Brown a citation and fined him for drinking in a prohibited area.

On Jan. 1, 2014, Brown was issued a Moving Marine Resource Boating Violation citation and later fined for speeding in a restricted area.

On Oct. 18, 2009, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office arrested Brown on a first-degree misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence, which later resulted in a conviction.

On Oct. 1, 2009, Brown was arrested by the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office and later convicted on a drug paraphernalia charge. The arrest affidavit mentioned Brown “having a crack pipe in his left front pocket,” and “he appeared to be high on some type of drug,” while sitting in his disabled vehicle near the intersection of Cortez Road and 75th Street West.

On June 15, 2008, the Holmes Beach Police Department arrested Brown in connection with a burglary in Holmes Beach that later resulted in a conviction.