LITTLE TORCH KEY, Fla. – A Hialeah Gardens man wielding a sledgehammer was arrested by the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office after they said he left behind thousands of dollars in damage to vehicles and residences on Little Torch Key Sunday afternoon.
911 calls began pouring in beginning at 2:30 p.m. from residents reporting that a man with a sledgehammer was destroying property throughout a neighborhood near Pirates Road.
When deputies arrived, Rafael Suarez Gomez, 32, jumped into a canal, according to police. After a search, Gomez was located on Blackbeard Road carrying a sledgehammer. He was ordered at gunpoint by Monroe County Sherriff’s deputies to drop the sledgehammer and to “get on the ground. Monroe County Sherriff’s Office said Gomez resisted arrest while he was being handcuffed; police then stunned Gomez with a Taser.
Gomez told police he had been drinking when someone gave him an unknown narcotic/hallucinogenic drug. Gomez said after he took the drug, he began seeing “demons.” Gomez told police that the “demons” ordered him to damage property and that he was trying to kill the “demons” with the sledgehammer.
Police interviewed residents who reported the damage allegedly caused by Gomez.
Residents said Gomez broke a $300 window at a residence on Blackbeard Road before running away. Another resident said he saw Gomez strike his pickup truck door, causing $200 in damage, before running to another neighbor’s house. Another report said that a man returned home to find a window in his car shattered, an upstairs window of his residence broken and a screen door damaged. Inside his residence, a television and multiple other objects were destroyed.
Police found two vehicles on Pirates Road with extensive damage: Windows smashed, side mirrors smashed and multiple dents. The vehicles belongs to Fine Design Builders. Next to one of the vehicles was a camper also owned by the business. An employee told officers that Gomez lives in the camper. Police said the inside of the camper was completely destroyed.
Gomez is being held in the Monroe County Correctional Facility and faces multiple charges of property damage, property damage greater than $1,000, burglary and resisting arrest. He was denied bond and has been ordered to appear in court on March 6.
Police did not report why or how long Gomez was living in the camper on Little Torch Key. Little Torch Key is an island in the lower Florida Keys. U.S. Route 1 crosses the key at about mile markers 28 and 29.