Watch CBS News

Key West Bartender Tip Led To Arrest In Burning Of Iconic Buoy

KEY WEST (CBSMiami/AP) - A sharp eyed bartender and his boss helped Key West police in finding the two men who reportedly set a fire that damaged the city's iconic Southernmost Point buoy.

Bartender Cameron Briody said a 21-year-old man ordered drinks three times on New Year's Eve without leaving a tip. He said that made an impression. Police later identified the man as Skylar Jacobson, 21, of Henrietta, Texas.

That enabled the staff to easily track him down after police released webcam video showing vandals setting fire to a Christmas tree they dragged in front of the buoy.

The arson caused more than $5,000 in damage to the city's landmark and sent the island's "coconut telegraph" gossip chain into high alert, according to CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald.

Key West
Key West buoy damaged by fire (Key West Police)

Like other locals across the city, Briody watched the video and recognized the man who had stiffed him at Irish Kevin's on Key West's famous Duval Street.

"I knew immediately that I had served him and that he had used a card, so his name would be on the slips," Briody told the Herald.

The bar's general manager, Daylin Starks, turned to recordings from the "ton of cameras" that watch over the bar each night, and matched credit card receipts to time-stamped videos of the man and his 22-year-old friend, identified as David Perkins from Leesburg.

"We could follow them the whole time, in and out of the bar," Starks said. "We could see them getting rejected from all the girls they were trying to hit on."

Armed with their identifications and matching their movements to the vandalism down the street, police swiftly announced arrest warrants for the vandalism suspects. Perkins turned himself in to the police on January 6th. Key West police said arrangements have been made for Jacobson to do the same.

City workers quickly restored the 20-ton concrete monument, which proclaims it stands just 90 miles from Cuba.

Key West visitors couldn't wait to pose for more pictures at the spot.

"We've all been that age and made dumb mistakes and we just learn from them," said Starks. "So I hope that's what they do is learn from the mistake."

(© Copyright 2022 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.