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Florida Keys man shot flare gun at 3 people in another boat, police say

Joseph Thomas Gaston faces three counts of aggravated assault.
Joseph Thomas Gaston faces three counts of aggravated assault. (Monroe County Sheriff's Office)

MARATHON, Fla. – A 29-year-old Florida Keys man is accused of shooting a flare gun at three people in another boat in Boot Key Harbor, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office says.

Joseph Thomas Gaston, a liveaboard, was arrested Thursday and faces three counts of aggravated assault.

No serious injuries were reported.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, a woman brought her 17-year-old son to the Marathon substation on Aug. 27 to report the incident, which happened around 3:30 that morning.

The teenager told investigators he was tarpon fishing with a 15-year-old boy and 27-year-old man when they returned to Boot Key Harbor to find his mother’s liveaboard sailboat missing.

After they found it adrift near Boot Key Bridge with its anchor lines cut with a knife, the three of them were securing the boat when Gaston and a woman arrived in a dinghy, detectives say.

The 17-year-old said he thought Gaston and the female were responsible for cutting the anchor lines, and after words were exchanged, the boy says Gaston fired a flare gun at him and the two others.

The boy told deputies said he used a sail to block the flare.

Investigators say those events were corroborated by the other two people on the boat and another man who told a detective that Gaston told him about shooting the flare at the teenager.


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