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Cops enforcing Florida beach restrictions nab Pennsylvania murder suspect violating lounging rule

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Florida police patrolling beaches just days after they partially reopened nabbed more than a violator of coronavirus restrictions.

Jacksonville police came across a man suspected of homicide hundreds of miles away and ended up arresting him on Sunday, as hundreds of people had flooded beaches again after the closures were partially lifted.


(Source: Fox 30)

Jacksonville Beach police apprehended 30-year-old fugitive Mario Matthew Gatti, who was wanted as a suspect in a Pennsylvania murder in January, Fox 30 Jacksonville reported. Gatti was spotted near the dunes on the beach Sunday morning as police enforced social distancing and other guidelines still in place though beaches were reopened for walking, running, swimming and surfing.

“This morning while officers patrolled the beach proper they captured a Fugitive from Justice, wanted in Arnold, Pennsylvania for Homicide,” the Jacksonville Beach Police Department tweeted. “Good job!”

The photo showed Gatti in swim trunks being led away in handcuffs by two police officers.

An arrest warrant had been issued for Gatti for the death of 33-year-old Michael Coover Jr. who was shot multiple times at an apartment in Arnold, outside of Pittsburgh, in January.

Both men had a criminal record, with Gatti’s jail records showing prior arrests for drug crimes, possession of a firearm and possession with intent to manufacture or deliver, according to Fox 30. His most recent arrest was in October 2019 for possession of marijuana.

Police reportedly were alerted to Gatti’s presence in Florida after he allegedly contacted a former girlfriend on a cell phone, according to KDKA-TV. It was not yet clear how long the suspect had been in the state where beach restrictions were eased just as the weekend approached.

Gatti was initially approached by the police because he was allegedly violating the coronavirus safety rules by lounging near the dunes. He apparently also gave the police a fake name, according to KDKA.

Gatti was taken to the Duval County jail on Sunday and is facing charges of criminal homicide, burglary and a firearms violation.

A cousin of the victim tweeted her relief at the capture of Gatti.

“It took him 48 seconds to go in that house and kill my cousin without him even acknowledging it,” Dakota Haynes, Michael Coover’s cousin told KDKA-TV. “So yeah I’d rather you be away for the rest of your life.”


(Source: KDKA-TV)

Haynes noted that the community has been struggling to find peace and closure after crimes in the area.

“It’s very sad. My town’s sad and there’s a lot of young kids out here who miss their dads,” she said.

Twitter users applauded the arrest, and some even noted that Gatti’s arrest was a great result of re-opening the beaches despite criticisms for doing so.

 

 

Frieda Powers

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