BROOKSVILLE — Walter Fallica had been slowly steaming for weeks.
Every time the self-proclaimed disabled veteran saw the flag of Canada flying at the same height as the Stars and Stripes outside the Brookridge Country Club pro shop, his national pride felt bruised.
He complained several times, but nothing was done.
He took matters into his own hands Monday and tried to haul down the Canadian maple leaf.
He insisted the U.S. flag should be flown higher.
He was wrong.
Fallica, 62, of Brooksville, was arrested Monday and charged with criminal mischief and resisting an officer without violence. He remained in the Hernando County Jail Tuesday afternoon in lieu of a $200 bond.
According to an arrest report, Fallica came into the lobby of the community center at Brookridge about 9:30 a.m. to complain about the flags. Witnesses said he was using vulgar language and "yelling and screaming very loudly."
He then burst into a closed-door meeting in the building, and was soon asked to leave. Fallica told the center's security captain that he couldn't make him leave and threatened to "split (the captain's) face open" if he touched him.
About three hours later, Fallica called the country club and said he was prepared to take down the Canadian flag. Within a few minutes, witnesses reported seeing Fallica walking toward the flagpole with a stick in his hand.
He allegedly took a knife out of his pocket and cut the rope that holds the flag.
When the club's administrative assistant, Cindy Claytor, told him that he couldn't do that, he cursed her and started walking in the direction of the home of a person where he'd had an earlier argument about the flag, the report states.
Deputies soon found Fallica near the home, where he admitted to cutting down the flag and said he was willing "to die for this cause." Told that he was going to be arrested, Fallica put up a struggle before being subdued by three deputies.
Witnesses told deputies that Fallica had come into the community center at least three or four times previously, screaming and cursing at staff members and residents of the community. The security captain said he was worried Fallica might "snap" and harm one of the residents.
Fallica wasn't the only resident of Brookridge to complain when the Canadian flag was raised in March outside the pro shop. Claytor said a group of residents from Canada pitched in to buy the flag and asked that it be raised next to the Stars and Stripes.
"We had quite a few complaints when we put the flag up," Claytor said Tuesday. "But they don't understand that we're flying the flags according to the U.S. Flag Code. People don't understand that."
According to the U.S. Flag Code, when flags of two or more nations are displayed, they are to be flown from separate poles of the same height and the flags should be about the same size. International usage forbids the display of the flag of one nation above that of another nation in time of peace.
"It's a matter of miscommunication," Claytor said. "In Florida, we have a lot of Canadian snowbirds here and we're showing respect to them. The flag is up and flying right now."
Fallica wasn't available for comment Tuesday.
Joel Anderson can be reached at email@example.com or (352) 754-6120.