Argument over bait at AM pier, motel turns bloody

It wasn’t the best day for fishing.

One man was in stable condition at Blake Medical Center in Bradenton following a fight at a restaurant/fishing pier in Anna Maria.

Manatee County sheriff’s deputies responded to the call about a fight at 9:54 p.m. June 15 in a shared parking lot for the Rod and Reel Pier Resort and the Rod & Reel Pier, which hosts anglers and a restaurant for diners at 877 N. Shore Drive. Four calls about the brawl went to 911 from witnesses.

Law enforcement arrived to find a man bleeding from the mouth and his chest and face covered with blood. Others involved in the fight left the scene and no arrests were made as of June 20.

Hospital personnel reported the victim “had significant facial fractures” and possibly lost teeth, but was stable and expected to recover, according to an MCSO report dated June 15.

A witness told 911 there were about 10 people in the parking lot between the resort and the pier screaming at each other, including one man with a bat and a woman trying to break up the fight.

Anna Maria resident Laurie Jo Higgins of Anna Maria picked up her son there that night.

She said her son was fishing on the pier next to two men, one who “may have been on something,” before they began arguing over bait.

According to MCSO Deputy Christopher Sheffield’s report, the deputy viewed a video shared by a witness and determined the victim appeared to be the “primary aggressor.”

Suspects hit the victim after being struck by him and halted the fight “when he stopped being a threat to them,” the report stated.

Other witnesses told authorities a dark-colored truck left the scene with the men who had been fighting before the authorities arrived.

Holmes Beach police were alerted and searched for the truck to no avail.

Authorities “know who the players are,” MCSO public information officer Randy Warren said in a June 20 email.

Authorities encourage the public to call local law enforcement when they see suspicious activity and, for anonymous tips, Manatee County Crime Stoppers at 866-634-8477 (TIPS).

On the web: To see a video from the incident, go online to