Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa wedding reception turns into parking lot brawl, police say

TAMPA — Mary Wright, 74, was thrilled Sunday night to see her grandson marry his longtime sweetheart in a beautiful, white wedding at the waterfront Rusty Pelican Restaurant.

Thrilled, that is, until she found herself with a stranger's hands around her neck — amid a sprawling melee involving 30 to 40 wedding guests that resulted in a flying brick, the appearance of a gun, a call to the cops and, inevitably, a bride in tears.

"Things were happening and I was confused," Wright said. "I don't know what really set it off."

The trouble started about 9 p.m. This is what police say happened:

The party was coming to an end. The groom, Markeith Brown, was throwing dollar bills onto the dance floor as kids scurried to gather them — "makin' it rain," the rappers call it.

One guest didn't like that. Brown and his brother didn't like the criticism. They confronted the guest.

Push came to shove. More guests took sides. Shoves came to punches. The brawl spilled into the parking lot at 2425 Rocky Point Drive.

Someone called the cops.

One man, reportedly intoxicated, was knocked down by a brick to the head, witnesses told police.

Several errant blows landed on Officer Mike White as he tried to separate the combatants.

The fight then moved to the parking lot of the Residence Inn at 4312 Boy Scout Blvd. — more than four miles away.

Police say someone called Malcolm Anthony Hepburn, a 30-year-old convicted felon with a 20-page rap sheet and a stolen gun. The caller told him the groom and his brother had hit Hepburn's cousin with a brick.

Hepburn showed up at the hotel and approached the groom's father, 47-year-old Andrew Thompson, and Grandma Wright.

Hepburn took a swing at Thompson as Wright watched it all unfold.

"Y'all need to stop that," the grandmother yelled. "Why are y'all doing this?"

She felt hands grab her neck from behind. It was a woman she didn't know, who had come with Hepburn. "I'm gonna choke you out," she remembers the woman saying.

Police say Thompson was lying on the floor, Hepburn kicking his face and ribs, when an officer arrived.

The officer arrested Hepburn and seized the gun, which had been reported stolen in Manatee County. Police charged him with felony battery, carrying a concealed firearm, grand theft of a firearm, and being a felon in possession of a firearm. Hepburn would bail out of jail the following day with $13,500.

The man hit by the brick refused to cooperate. The grandma-choker was later identified, but not immediately arrested. Thompson suffered bruises and a possible broken nose and ribs.

And the bride cried.

"She was very upset and her mom was very upset," Wright said.

The groom, out of prison for less than a month after serving a nine-month sentence on cocaine charges, was not arrested. He and his bride, 34-year-old Tasha C. Johnson, are on a honeymoon cruise.

His grandmother told him to go and to try to forget what happened. She said Monday that her neck is fine, but her memories of the wedding are marred.

"Young people," Wright said, "are so stupid these days."

Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Alexandra Zayas can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3354.

Tampa wedding reception turns into parking lot brawl, police say 11/09/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 10, 2009 12:15pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Peter Budaj, Lightning lose to Devils in shootout; Nikita Kucherov scores

    Lightning Strikes

    NEWARK, N.J. — For Peter Budaj, Tuesday's season debut had a shaky start.

    The Lightning’s Vladislav Namestnikov, right, battles Damon Severson for the puck.
  2. Mother's testimony about toddler's death brings judge to tears

    Criminal

    TAMPA — Nayashia Williams woke up early on May 7, 2014, to the sound of her daughter calling for her. It was the last time the young mother's mornings would begin with a summons from Myla Presley, who couldn't yet climb over the mesh fencing around the playpen she used as a bed.

    Deandre Gilmore looks towards the gallery Tuesday in a Tampa courtroom. Gilmore is accused of killing the 19 month-old daughter of his girlfriend in 2014. He said the child fell while he was giving her a bath. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  3. Speakers: Getting tough can't be only response to teen car thefts

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — Bob Dillinger remembers coming to Pinellas County as a legal intern in 1975. There were five major poverty zones in St. Petersburg.

    Wengay Newton, Florida House of Representatives (in front, in center), talks as a panelist to a packed room during a community forum on "Reclaiming our Youth: Is Juvenile Justice a Reality?" at the Dr. Carter G. Woodson Museum in St. Petersburg Wednesday evening (10/17/17). The event was presented by the Fred G. Minnis, Sr. Bar Association. Community leaders discussed the ongoing auto theft epidemic among Pinellas youth.
  4. Internal White House documents allege manufacturing decline increases abortions, infertility and spousal abuse

    Politics

    White House officials working on trade policy were alarmed last month when a top adviser to President Donald Trump circulated a two-page document that alleged a weakened manufacturing sector leads to an increase in abortion, spousal abuse, divorce and infertility, two people familiar with the matter told the …

  5. Black entrepreneur says city stiffing him on project after he endorsed Rick Baker

    News

    ST. PETERSBURG — A prominent African-American resident says his endorsement of mayoral candidate Rick Baker has led city officials to freeze him out of a major construction project along the historic "Deuces" stretch of 22nd Street S.