MIAMI – A Hollywood man was arrested Monday after he was caught on camera approaching a group of black teenagers while holding a gun, shouting obscenities and racial slurs at them.
Mark Bartlett, 51, faces a felony charge of carrying a concealed firearm.
A video widely shared on social media shows the group of teens on bicycles arguing with a woman on the Brickell Avenue Bridge. The woman in the video claims one of the boys ran over her foot with his bike and a screaming match ensues.
"Don't touch me, you bunch of thugs," the woman tells the teens as she walks away from them.
The teens then shout obscenities at her.
Moments later, a man, identified by police as Bartlett, approaches the teens, holding a gun in his hand. He begins yelling obscenities and racial slurs at the teens, telling them to leave.
"F---ing stupid n-----s," Bartlett can be heard saying.
As Bartlett and the woman walk away, the person recording the cellphone video can be heard telling them, "You're going to be on the news. Y'all going to make the news."
"That's fine," the woman replies.
The video was posted by Dream Defenders Action, saying the teens were protesting redevelopment of the Liberty Square public housing complex.
An 18-year-old man who participated in the protest told reporters Tuesday at a news conference that Bartlett pointed the gun at him and tried to run over him with his SUV. He said there is footage that has not been released to the media that shows Bartlett in his SUV telling the teen to come toward him before calling him a n-----.
According to a Miami police report, Bartlett got back in his Range Rover after the incident and drove away, but he was stopped by police near Biscayne Boulevard and Northeast 13th Street.
Police said Bartlett didn't have a conceal carry permit for the gun, which was loaded and resting on the front passenger seat.
While in custody, Bartlett asked police, "Why am I being arrested when those kids are free to ride around? I did pull out my gun, but I never pointed it at them."
Bartlett was booked into the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center. His arrest photo shows him smiling and wearing the same shirt seen in the video.
In a telephone conversation with Local 10 News reporter Madeleine Wright, Bartlett said he isn't a racist and only made the racial slurs out of anger.
"The reason why we use that word, the reason why Chinese people use the word, why Japanese people, European people, the reason why everybody uses that word is because black people use that word," he said. "We all knew the word for Puerto Ricans as spic. We all knew Asian people as gooks or whatever. Jews, we knew about Jews. Nobody uses those words anymore. Why? Because Puerto Ricans don't say that to each other. Because Asian people don't say that to each other. Because the Jewish people don't say that to each other. The only ones that continue to say it are black people. So what's the first thing in my head or most people's heads? Unfortunately, it's the n word."
Bartlett said he took out his gun because his girlfriend, Dana Scalione, was outnumbered by the teens and he feared for her safety.
"All I see is 15 people running across the street toward my girlfriend -- over the median, toward my girlfriend," he said. "My first reaction is I have a gun on me. Whether I have a gun on me or not, I'm running to see and to protect my family. I had a gun though. It wasn't loaded. I ran out there. You can see I never pointed it. I never threatened anybody. I just needed it in case something were to happen."
Scalione said racial slurs were thrown around from both sides, but doesn't feel anyone in the situation should be labeled a racist.
"I was called a white a-- first. Nobody calls them racist," Scalione said. "I was called a b----. Nobody says they hate women. I'm called things that are derogatory to that person for one aspect of them. I'm a woman, they're going to call me a bitch. I'm white, so they're going to call me a white a--. I don't believe they're racist. I don't believe they have a fundamental issue with a category of people. They're angry with me. It's situational."
Bartlett stands behind his actions and said he has no regrets over the incident other than not having a conceal carry permit.
Miami-Dade County State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle released a statement Tuesday, saying her office would prosecute Bartlett "to the fullest extent of the law."
"I am outraged at the reported acts depicted in the videos taken during this incident. I have assigned my Chief of our Hate Crimes Unit to immediately investigate and handle this case," she said. "I spoke with city of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez and Chief of Police Jorge Colina this morning and my office is working closely with city of Miami police on this matter. I am committed to filing the appropriate charges and to vigorously prosecute this case to the fullest extent of the law."
Prosecutors are considering a hate crime enhancement to the charges against Bartlett.
"If we're able to show that that's the case, then we will take the appropriate action," Colina said.