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Ferris wheel operator awaits trial in brawl at Opa-locka flea market

Police called to Ferris wheel fight at Opa-Locka flea market
Police called to Ferris wheel fight at Opa-Locka flea market

OPA-LOCKA, Fla. – The Opa-locka Police Department identified the ferris wheel operator who is facing charges in a brawl last month.

John Hoffman was operating a ferris wheel at the Opa-locka Hialeah Flea Market about 9:45 p.m. on April 17, police said. A video shows he was acting erratically.

He refused to allow adults and children out of the ride. A child nearly got injured as he started and stopped the wheel. He punched a co-worker who asked him to stop.

The video also shows Hoffman, 44, struck a woman in the face. She was with a child. Witnesses quickly ran to her aid. He pushed and shoved others. A fight erupted.

Hoffman made the ride go faster, which further angered the crowd. Off-duty officers responded to appease them. Flea market employees shut down the ride.

Assistant Chief Nikeya Jenkins said there was an investigation after the video went viral.

“Dozens of patrons ran towards the exit and officers were unable to locate the victims depicted in the video that is circulating social media,” Jenkins said on April 18.

It took nearly a week for officers to arrest Hoffman after detectives were able to identify the woman Hoffman struck after endangering the child she was with, police said.

He was released that same day on an $8,000 bond while he was facing charges of child neglect and two counts of battery.

Hoffman’s attorney filed a written plea of not guilty on April 24. One of the battery charges was dropped. Records show the court issued a discharge certificate on May 24.

Court records show Hoffman has a plea hearing set at 9 a.m. on June 11, a felony-sounding hearing set for Sept. 23, and a trial hearing scheduled for Oct. 4.

Police called to Ferris wheel fight at Opa-Locka flea market
Police called to Ferris wheel fight at Opa-Locka flea market

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Local 10 News Assignment Desk Editors Emily Hales and Wilson Louis contributed to this report.


About the Author:

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.