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Two North Fort Myers firefighters charged in Tween Waters fist fight

By Staff | May 21, 2009

Two off-duty North Fort Myers firefighters were arrested and charged in a Captiva bar fight Tuesday evening and face an internal investigation by the North Fort Myers Fire District.
Anthony William Pearce and Erik Lee Arnold, both 29, were allegedly involved in a physical disturbance among 15-20 people in the parking lot of the Crows Nest Bar, part of the Tween Waters Inn at 15951 Captiva Drive, at about 9:31 p.m.
The fight caused a broken window and bloody injuries. It ended with a confrontation involving a sheriff’s deputy’s baton, Taser and handcuffs.
Both men have been with the North Fort Myers Fire District for more than four years, and have never had any disciplinary issues with the department prior to Tuesday’s incident, said North Fort Myers Fire Chief Terry Pye.
“They’re both excellent firefighters,” he said. “They do a good job. We’ve never really ever had a problem with them. It’s a very unfortunate incident, but it has happened and we are going to deal with it.”
Pye said his department does not condone the actions of Pearce and Arnold, despite the fact that they were off duty at the time of the fight.
“They were off duty, but these gentlemen are firefighters,” he said. “People look at that as a 24-hour job.”
Pye said a parallel internal investigation, contingent on the outcome of any criminal action against the two, will determine what, if any, disciplinary steps will be taken.
Pearce and Arnold will likely be asked to attend anger management courses, he added.
When Deputy Michael Sawicki arrived on scene Tuesday, he observed Pearce injured, bloody and screaming as several men attempted to carry him away from the fight, according to police reports.
Sawicki said Arnold approached him aggressively, stating, “Take me to jail! Take me to jail!”
When Arnold refused to stop, Sawicki hit him several times with a collapsible baton and used his Taser until Arnold cooperated, according to the officer’s report.
Tween Waters Inn employees told Sawicki that they witnessed Pearce, Arnold and an unknown male fighting. Arnold broke a window during the fight, they said.
Tween Waters Inn general manager Jeff Shuff could not be reached for comment Wednesday. Employees at the resort declined to comment in Shuff’s absence.
Arnold was charged with resisting arrest with violence — a felony — and resisting a public lodge operator.
Pearce was charged with criminal mischief over $200 but under $1,000 and resisting a public lodge operator.
Pearce has been released on $2,000 bond, according to Lee County Jail booking records. Arnold has been released on $6,000 bond.