Media Relations Officer
Man waving machete at Mallory Square
An incident at Key West’s Mallory Square late yesterday [Tuesday] afternoon was more dangerous than what looked like a Sunset Celebration performance of gladiatorial combat. The call came in at 4:37 yesterday afternoon, as tourists had begun gathering for the famous sunset ceremony at Mallory Square. When Key West Police Officer Pablo Rodriguez arrived, he saw people fleeing the area, some falling down in their haste, saying a crazy man with a machete was going after people. Rodriguez saw the man, later identified as Marcus Baptiste, 30, of Key West, running around, swinging the machete and screaming. Rodriguez ordered him at gunpoint to stop.
The incident apparently was prompted when two men saw Baptiste on what they thought was a stolen bicycle and pulled him off of it. Witnesses told Rodriguez Baptiste pulled out a dull machete he uses for cutting coconuts, while the two accusers, shielding themselves with garbage can lids and throwing coconuts at him, continued to approach the man, further provoking him. It turns out the bicycle was not stolen. The two men had given it to a girl who let Baptiste use it. Rodriguez arrested Baptist for disorderly conduct and aggravated assault.