SARASOTA, FLORIDA — A 12 hour fishing trip turned into a nightmare for a group of passengers after their captain became heavily intoxicated and refused to bring them back to land.
On top of that, he took out a gun and reportedly fired shots in the air. But that’s not where the story ends.
Sarasota police say on Sunday, June 2, five passengers joined Captain Mark Bailey and his first mate, Devin Kisell on the charter boat “Double Marker.”
Their choice for charter boat would turn out to be a poor one.
When they were about 60 miles out in the gulf, one of the passengers, Carlo Lopeparo asked 15-year-old Jason Rialmo to go to the second deck and grab a beer from a plastic bucket that was next to the captain.
The Captain told Rialmo to put the beer back. The teen thought the captain was kidding and kept going. The report says Bailey then grabbed him and ripped off a chain that was around the teen’s neck.
An argument then ensued among the passengers. The report states the group tried to continue on with their trip but the mood was sour and Captain Bailey continued to drink and do cocaine.
The Captain then called up 25-year-old passenger Chris Giuffre to come to speak with him and the captain reportedly said: “I have a gun and if I want to, I will put a bullet in each of your heads and leave you out here.”
“At that point we were all kind of waiting for something horrible to happen for him to come down those stairs with his gun,” said Chris’ father, Christopher Giuffre.
The passengers found themselves helpless and at the mercy of the person in control of the boat. That’s a bad spot to be in, especially so far out to sea, likely with no one in range to see any signs that help is needed.
They pleaded with the captain to turn around and go back to land, and that’s when police say the captain took out a 9mm handgun and fired 6-7 shots into the air.
“At this point I was thinkin this is going to end really badly and I think we were all trying to strategize as to what we could do where we could hide where could we go, how could we stem the confrontation that was about to ensue,” said Christopher Giuffre.
I’m runnin inside im ducking, thinking ‘Oh I cant get shot today,'” said Jason Rialmo.
Shortly after, it appeared that the captain turned around to head back, but the passengers were able to confirm that they were simply going around in circles via a cell phone compass.
After what likely felt like an eternity, they were within cell phone service range and called both the Sarasota Police and the US Coast Guard.
The captain was arrested, and during his apprehension, kicked the rear door of a Sarasota Police car.
I live not too far from where this happened, and I can’t help but run the scenario through my head if someone else on the boat were armed. If I were on that fishing trip, I’d be. Not because I thought something would happen, but because I carry everywhere. It’s as simple as that.
However, out at sea is a tricky situation. At what point would it be deemed acceptable, if at all, to draw your firearm? Let’s say you determine a good self-defensive gun use. What if you manage to shoot the captain? Are you capable of driving the boat and navigating back to land? What if the captain shoots you and is truly in control now? What of the fellow passengers? They have no way to escape.