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Date of Issue: November 03, 2006

Witnesses lead Bradenton Beach Police to arrest

gsr pic
Steel gone
This steel gate on Bridge Street owned by Fred Bartizal was stolen in April. Although the $3,000 functional art piece has not been found, Bradenton Beach police made an arrest last week after several witnesses stepped forward. Islander Photo: Courtesy Bradenton Beach Police Department

An arrest has finally been made in the grand theft of a custom-crafted steel gate resembling an octopus owned by Fred Bartizal that had been installed at 100 Bridge St., Bradenton Beach. The theft occurred April 28, and without the proper affidavits from witnesses, the investigation quickly stalled.

Bradenton Beach Detective Lenard Diaz said that shortly after the incident he obtained the name of a man believed to have witnessed the theft. The man is a part-time Florida resident and Diaz said it took a couple of months to locate the witness and that the man was then unable to positively identify the suspect.

Diaz said that in mid-September several witnesses contacted him at BBPD, offering information that finally resulted in the arrest of Jonathon Welch, who at the time of the theft owned a video rental shop on Bridge Street.

Welch, a Bradenton resident, no longer owns a business on Bridge Street. He was arrested within Bradenton Beach city limits on Oct. 17, while operating the taxi service he currently owns.

According to Diaz, Welch denies taking the gate and, by Oct. 24, Bartizal had signed a waiver, dropping the charges against Welch.

The gate, valued at $3,000, has not been recovered.