MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Jason Leon, a python hunter associated with the Zoological Wildlife Foundation in Miami-Dade County, set up a GoFundMe account with a picture of himself holding the head of a python that was rapped around Michael Holston, better known as the "Real Tarzann."
Holston seemed to trust Leon, who is known for catching a record-breaking snake that was 17 feet, 1 inch long at the Big Cypress national preserve in 2017. In the GoFundMe page, Leon wrote late last year that they needed support.
Leon said it was urgent. He needed more volunteers to help him hunt the constricting snakes that are taking over the Florida Everglades. He said they are eating everything from alligators to birds, deer, bobcats, rodents and can even kill and eat panthers.
"With very little help from our local state government we have decided to take matters into our own hands and assemble a team [whose] sole purpose is to locate and remove every single one of these apex predators from our ecosytem," Leon wrote, adding that "our resources are limited."
Leon and Holston went from being partners on a mission to being involved in a savage fight Friday afternoon. The fight was so severe that Holston is being held without bond on Sunday at the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center in Miami-Dade County.
Holston, 25, was accused of punching Leon in the face and of also hitting a man who tried to intervene. Hector Zelaya told police officers Holston hit him so hard he chipped his tooth.
Holston is facing three charges: felony burglary, assault and battery; felony battery and misdemeanor battery charges. His first court appearance for a bond hearing was Saturday with Miami-Dade County Circuit Judge Linda Diaz.
During the hearing, a defense attorney said Holston and Leon met at the ZWF and there was a confusion about the burglary charge. She said the incident was in a property where Holston had been living in for the last seven months.
The prosecutor said the felony burglary, assault and battery charge in question was the one with the bond hold, which prevented Holston from leaving the jail. The other charges have a $6,500 bond.
Some of his videos and pictures feature animals that belong to the ZWF, co-founded by Mario Tabraue Sr., a convicted felon and exotic-wildlife exhibitor. Trabaue keeps his collection at a ranch near Miami-Dade County's Country Walk neighborhood, west of Zoo Miami.
ZWF's website lists Leon as having worked as an animal curator supervisor since 2014 and claims he has been "dedicating his time to learn how to work with large cats in pursuit of one day being able to rescue some on his own."
Diaz ordered Holston, who has volunteered at ZWF, to stay away from Zelaya and Leon. Miami-Dade County records show defense attorney Jeremy McLymont is representing Holston, and the case was assigned to Miami-Dade County Circuit Judge Richard Hersch.
McLymont and Leon could not be reached for comment and volunteers at the ZWF also refused to issue a statement.
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