One St Augustine couple who has volunteered over the past couple of years to help a downtown neighborhood watch group, had their evening interrupted last night when Evelyn Hammock was arrested for walking along the south balcony of the Lightner Museum while carrying a concealed firearm.
Hammock and partner Mike Miles have spent many of their nights walking and driving through the streets of downtown St Augustine, observing, documenting, and reporting violations of state law and city ordinances by transients and aggressive panhandlers who have been engaged in public urination, defecation, carrying open containers of alcoholic beverages, assault, snatch-and-grab robbery, fighting and disturbing the peace.
Both Hammock and Miles have become well known to police because of their frequent reports of these and other violations of the City’s panhandling ordinance adopted last year. In fact, both were called to testify before the city commission as witnesses to these activities that had residents and visitors afraid to leave their homes or hotel rooms for fear of being accosted by vagrants. Hammock and Miles’ testimony helped the City adopt the new constitutionally sound ordinances that have helped clean up the eyesore that threatened the local tourist economy.
On February 14, 2019 at approximately 11:43 p.m. arresting officer Alexander R Barrera was sitting in his patrol car in a side alleyway of the Corazon Cafe and Cinema completing paperwork from other calls.
Barrera reported that he noticed Myra Evelyn Hammock and Michael Alan Miles near the south Lightner Museum parking lot where they were parked, when Hammock began walking onto the property located at 75 King Street. Although Miles remained near the parked vehicle, Hammock reportedly walked up the wide stairway to the southern balcony; an open porch outside the public building.
“I recalled that I had previously warned Hammock against trespassing from the same balcony of 75 King Street on September 12, 2018,” Barrera reported. “I approached Hammock and asked if she remembered being warned against trespassing on September 12, 2018, to which she advised she did not recall.”Alexander R Barrera
During the interview, Hammock, who is the verified holder of a currently issued concealed weapons permit, properly informed Officer Barrera that she was armed. At that time Barrera placed Hammock under arrest “for armed trespassing after warning”.
Barrera called for assistance in searching Hammock for the weapon. He was assisted by female officer Brittney S Garmon. A black Ruger semi-automatic pistol (serial number 370002591) was located where Hammock said she had it concealed. The weapon was cleared through the Florida and National Crime Information Centers “with negative results”; meaning that the weapon had not been reported lost or stolen and had not been reported as used in the commission of a crime. Barrera concluded that taking Hammock into custody and retrieving the concealed weapon occurred “without incident“.
Officer Barrera, who has only been on the job for six months, checked Hammock’s concealed carry permit through the state database where he verified it “to be valid”.
At Hammock’s request, her firearm, which she legally carries for her own personal protection, and all her property in the vehicle, excluding her cell phone, were given to Miles rather than go with her to jail.
Again, Barrera concluded that “Hammock was transported and booked into the St. Johns County jail without incident“.
According to the actual charging affidavit made by Officer Barrera, Hammock “… entered or remained in a structure or conveyance, the property of 75 King Street the City of St Augustine, while armed, or became armed within such structure or conveyance, with a firearm or other deadly weapon, to wit: walking along the south balcony while carrying a concealed firearm”, contrary to Florida Statute 810.08.
To be clear, Historic City News verified that Hammock did not attempt or enter the Lightner Museum building, armed or otherwise. The structure remained locked at all times. The “balcony” referred to by Officer Barrera is an outdoor porch attached to the south end of the Lightner Museum building. The shift supervisor who approved the report was Sergeant Brian Frasca.