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Jaguars DE Dante Fowler, ex-Gator and Lakewood High grad, arrested in St. Petersburg

Dante Fowler, 22, a former Lakewood High School football star who played for the Florida Gators and now plays for the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars, was arrested Tuesday night in his hometown of St. Petersburg on misdemeanor charges of simple battery and mischief. [Courtesy of Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]
Published Jul. 20, 2017

ST. PETERSBURG — Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler was arrested Tuesday in his hometown, and that arrest led to the discovery of one last year in Miami Beach and more off-field problems for the former Lakewood High and Florida standout.

Fowler was driving in the Trellis at the Lakes apartment complex about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday when a man walking in the complex commented about his driving, a St. Petersburg Police Department report said. Fowler got out of his car, exchanged words with the man, then "hit the man, knocked his glasses off and stepped on them," the report said. He then "took the victim's grocery bag, with recently purchased liquor, and threw it in a lake," the report said. The man wasn't injured, police said.

Fowler, 22, was arrested and charged with misdemeanor counts of simple battery and mischief, then released at 1:43 a.m. Wednesday on $650 bond.

The Jaguars said in a statement they were aware of the arrest, were talking to Fowler and were gathering more information. They would not comment further at this time, they said.

Fowler could not be reached for comment.

Fowler, the No. 3 overall draft pick in 2015, missed his rookie season with a torn ACL. Last year he had 32 tackles and four sacks. The arrest came one week before veteran players are scheduled to report for training camp.

Court records show the 6-foot-3, 255-pound Fowler was arrested in Miami Beach in March 2016 and charged with misdemeanor counts of assault against a police officer and resisting arrest without violence. Those charges were dropped in December after completion of a pretrial intervention program for first-time offenders.

Officers were trying to break up a crowd in front of the Fat Tuesday bar on Ocean Drive and Fowler ignored verbal requests to move off the road, the arrest report said. An officer put his hand on Fowler's arm. Fowler told the officer to get off him and swung his arm backward at the officer "in an obvious attempt to strike" him, the report said. Fowler went back into the crowd despite warnings from police that he was under arrest, and it took "numerous officers" to escort him out for his arrest, the report said.

The Miami Beach arrest came 17 days after the celebrity news website TMZ posted a video showing Fowler watching a violent fight between his girlfriend and an ex-girlfriend. Fowler apologized for his actions.

"I am embarrassed and have apologized … to everyone involved," he said in a statement in February. "As a family, we have been dealing with this moment and the conflict that led to it since this occurred The video surfacing is a sad reminder that emotions got the best of all of us. I take 100 percent responsibility for everything that happened."

Tuesday's arrest came after an agreement was reached in court last Friday to withhold adjudication against Fowler on a citation of careless driving from a June 11 incident that caused $1,500 in property damage. The citation shows Fowler backed into a parked vehicle, and he was also cited for operating a vehicle without insurance in St. Petersburg.

He also has four speeding tickets in Jacksonville over the past two years, including a $450 citation in June 2016 in which he pleaded no contest to going 98 mph in a 55 mph zone at 1 a.m. He also was stopped in Alachua County in March 2016 and cited for doing 99 in a 70 zone.

Times senior news researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Contact Greg Auman at gauman@tampabay.com and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.

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