A 31-year-old Lincolnville man called the St Augustine Police Department yesterday at about 11:15 a.m., claiming to be the victim of an attack at the scene of a political function being held by Republican Congressman, Ron DeSantis.
DeSantis was holding a coffee meeting with constituents scheduled to begin at 11:00 a.m. at City Coffee Company, located at 1280 Ponce de Leon Boulevard in St Augustine. A crowd of more than 100 people showed up; some wearing insignias or campaign buttons advocating their positions on various political issues.
The complainant told Officer Michal Ochkie and Sergeant Jennifer Michaux that he had approached a Tea Party member and started talking to him “about his viewpoint”. There are mixed reports about the tone and intensity of the discussion between the complainant and the unnamed Tea Party member, although, at one point, an older man intervened.
According to the complainant, the man, identified by police as 5’2″ tall, 72-year-old, Stephen Edward Bubala, began “yelling and cursing at him” and told him that he needed to get off the property or he was going to “beat him up”.
The complainant admitted to police that he had participated in the verbal debate, but says that at one point Bubala made it physical when he grabbed the complainant by the throat; allegedly trapping him between his bicycle and a vehicle parked in the lot. According to the incident report, Bubala punched the complainant in the face. Police observed that the complainant did have several scratches on the left side of his neck and a laceration on his right forehead where his head hit the vehicle.
Bubala admitted to police that he did get into a verbal argument with the complainant, but he did not touch him until after the complainant pushed him — and then, he says that he only pushed him back. Two witnesses who spoke to the investigating officers stated that the complainant had “started voicing his views” but that they did not see him push Bubala.
The complainant refused to press battery charges against Bubala, who is a registered St Johns County voter. The complainant is not registered to vote in St Johns County, according to a records check with the office of the Supervisor of Elections. A statewide search of voter records performed by Historic City News could not find the complainant registered to vote in any county in Florida.
No arrest was made and the officers left the event without further incident.