Thursday, June 21, 2018
Public safety

Remember that man who threatened a Muslim family on a Texas beach? There's a Florida connection (w/video)

Alexander Downing pounded his chest on the video. It showed him screaming in the faces of a Muslim family trying to enjoy a family reunion on a Texas beach.

"You will never, ever stop me, my Christianity from rising above your sharia law," Downing, drink in hand, told the family on May 2, according to South Padre Island police.

Downing's curse-filled tirade was filmed by the Muslim family and the video went viral last week. He was arrested on a charge of public intoxication. His mug shot, in which he appeared to be crying, quickly spread across the Internet.

South Padre Island police have said Downing is from Watertown, Conn. But there is, of course, a Florida connection:

Downing, 35, has a brief history of minor arrests in Hills­borough and Polk counties stretching back to 2003, records show.

His latest Florida arrest was last year. On July 11, 2016, according to Plant City police, he got into an argument with a "female victim and elderly disabled male" that turned physical.

Downing punched the man in the face, according to the arrest report, then kicked him as he lay on the ground. Then Downing punched the woman in the ear as she tried to shield the man, police said. Neither victim was identified in the report.

In November, Downing pleaded guilty to domestic abuse and was sentenced to probation until 2019.

His first Florida arrest was in Polk County in 2003, records show, when he charged with marijuana possession. He was also a fugitive from Kentucky, records show. He was picked up as a fugitive again in 2004, but stayed out of trouble until last year.

Downing could not be reached for comment Tuesday. He has yet to speak publicly about the Texas incident.

The video was first posted to YouTube by Alward Noria, 19, on May 5. He and more than a dozen other family members — including a two 4-year-olds and a 2-year-old — were on a beach when Downing began cursing and shouting about ISIS and President Donald Trump.

"While enjoying our time at the beach during a family reunion," Noria wrote in a message accompanying the video, "our kids and us had to experience ugliness and aggressiveness in the worse shape and form possible."

The family called police. Officers determined Downing "was intoxicated in a public place and was a danger to himself and others," according to the police report.

The video showed Downing yelling near the children, who were quietly playing the sand. At one point Downing grabbed his genitalia and gestured toward the family.

"Donald Trump will stop you," Downing said, according to the video, then threw his drink to the ground. Then he pounded his chest and said:

"My country is the greatest country in the world."

Contact Sara DiNatale at [email protected] Follow @sara_dinatale.

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