The sometimes-shocking stories of violence, not to mention their number, lay bare a little-recognized problem in one of the nation's most iconic beach spots.

"This kid was defenseless. He was beat up for sport."

"What you saw in that video happens every day," one current Dirty Blondes bouncer remarked. "That one was just caught on video."


On February 25 this year, a slight, somewhat taciturn New Yorker named Joe Viscomi had just landed in Fort Lauderdale for a wedding when he took a walk down A1A. On that cloudless night, he'd expected to find a bunch of college kids having a good time. Instead, in front of Dirty Blondes, he spotted a bouncer, whom he later described as an "enraged animal," deliver a devastating punch to a scrawny 21-year-old.

Another witness recalled that the bouncer kicked the young man in the side of the head, according to a police report. The youth, David Harris (who couldn't be reached for comment for this article) stood and stumbled away. The bouncer, a 250-pound redheaded juggernaut named Albert Wareham, lumbered after him.

"Then all of a sudden," Viscomi remembers now, "the kid's getting four more blows to the head and his face is getting all distorted and he's screaming." During the scrum, a police report says, the young man's phone fell out of his pocket, and the bouncer stomped on it.

Just then, Viscomi says, a cop approached the scene to confront Wareham. The officer analyzed the youth's battered face, then swiveled his gaze to look at the bouncer. "This time," Viscomi heard the cop admonishing Wareham, "you've gone too far."

Wareham, who was charged with simple battery, initially denied striking Harris to police, claiming he saw the younger man try to use drugs in the restroom. He later admitted he punched Harris because he felt "threatened" and then chased after him because "he didn't know if he had a weapon," the incident report says.

Viscomi, 63 and a resident of upstate New York, expressed bewilderment last month that cops charged Wareham with only one offense. "One charge?" he gasped. "This was first-degree assault in my opinion. There were two witnesses who saw the whole thing, and no one has contacted me from the Fort Lauderdale Police Department since. They acted like they wanted to protect the bouncers. I mean, this kid was defenseless. He was beat up for sport."

A similar refrain often emerged among the 16 incidents of bouncer-inflicted violence that New Times discovered in part through an analysis of 37 assault or battery police reports at the establishments since 2009. (Neighboring Elbo Room, meanwhile, was the site of 13 batteries, two aggravated assaults, and one attempted murder during that time, though a delay in obtaining police records made it impossible to determine how many of those incidents involved bouncers.) Indeed, perhaps the most striking aspect of these examples is their similarity. According to 11 police reports, three civil suits, and two additional altercations corroborated by multiple witnesses, it goes down like this: A patron does something to vex a bouncer, like flashing a pocket light, flirting with a bartender, clandestinely filling a glass from a soda gun. In other cases, the patron claims to have done nothing at all. Then, without warning, bouncers attack the reveler. Sometimes, the victim is left with a few bruises. Sometimes, substantially more.

On August 28, 2010, a raven-haired Joshua Wright was about to leave Exit 66, a cavernous nightclub that has a capacity of 1,200, when his friend went to use the bathroom. When the friend emerged, Wright cast a key-chain laser light on his friend when a bouncer referred to only as "Josh" in a pending lawsuit Wright filed in Broward County slammed Wright with a fist. Court documents show the bouncer "mistook" the flashlight for a gun. After Wright fell to the ground, another bouncer kicked him, Wright says. The medical fallout was immense: four broken ribs, a fractured eye orbital, eight stitches, and two back surgeries to mend a herniated and ruptured disc in his lower back. (Exit 66 disputes Wright's allegations.)

"My friend was standing a few feet away and witnessed all of it, but the police on private duty seemed to know the bouncers," Wright tells New Times. "He didn't mention anything about pressing criminal charges against 'Josh' or the bouncer who kicked me."

Next door and more than a year later at Rock Bar, barrel-chested 38-year-old boat salesman Brian Hoynowski sauntered inside wearing slacks and a button-down he'd bought at Tommy Bahama. It was near 11 p.m. on October 25, 2011, and Hoynowski had arrived that afternoon for the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show the next day. If he played it right, he'd fly home to Orange Beach, Alabama, with tens of thousands of dollars. He was thinking about the potential money at stake when he went hunting for the bathroom at Rock Bar.

"If you want to piss here, you have to order a drink," Hoynowski remembers a bouncer telling him.

"What the fuck are you talking about, man?" Hoynowski replied, laughing.

"So I turned my head to walk out, and the next thing I knew I was clocked," Hoynowski remembers. "Freaking clocked. One of the bouncers grabbed my arms, and another one got three punches in on me. I fell to the ground, and three of them started kicking me in the head, the ribs. They broke my ribs. I needed six stitches above my eye, and I have permanent scarring."

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15 comments
aliasetc
aliasetc topcommenter

Avoid ft lauderdale at all cost! In fact avoid Florida.

windmichael21
windmichael21

investigate the owners with criminal connections,and sale of extasy that is controlled by the israeli-russian mafia,and yes the local fbi office needs internal investigation.

icculus17
icculus17 topcommenter

if it's such a terrible place why aren't there ON DUTY police officers?  Seilier is a tool

trenchtowntito
trenchtowntito

Most redheaded dudes need a good asskickin...Just sayin!

johnsonhrld
johnsonhrld

Ok, Mr. Mayor you cant hide on this one! What are your plans for this corrupt activity ! Maybe just lose the City is an option

adolfojherrera
adolfojherrera

This is one of the things that killed Baja Beach Club in the Grove as well. As a former bouncer I can tell you with some validity that there is really no need to be douchebags like the ones at Dirty Blondes to do the job. Sure you have to deal with drunk assholes, so you get them yank them out of the club and goodbye. I never got paid enough money to exert myself that much in dealing with an asshole.

JohnnySwift
JohnnySwift

So why hasn't someone gone to that club and murdered those bouncers?  That is what I would do.  Nut up or shut up, is what I say!

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

...........................i would also offer that since "boys will be boys" and that alcohol and bath saltz and who knows what other mind and mood altering substances are injested by patrons and bouncers and bar owners operators................LET THESE places simply go somewhere else - GET THEM OFF THE BEACH = period - let the animals and savages and neaderthals have at each other under a bridge or down a dark alley SOMEWHERE ELSE in ft liquordale - then they could kill each other altogether and the CIVILIZED society can enjoy the beach without fear

URBAN WEEK got out of hand and police shot 106 bullets into a car two years ago - MORE POLICE are not the answer, bringing in the National Guard is not the answer, having the SWAT TEAM on the roof of the ELBO ROOM is NOT the answer, putting a police sub-station in the lobby of the RITZ CARLTON is not the answer = the answer is sweeping away these "stages" of insanity to some other location where they can pursue their savage and uncivlized clashes of the mental mindless and egotistical steroid-fuel physical combatants

gatornek
gatornek

Count me in.  Constantly looking over my shoulder for uneducated meat-head hooliganism is not really my vibe when I'm trying to chill with a few drinks and a few friends.  I will never enter into one of these establishments again.  There's only one reason people become "bouncers" instead of joining any reputable security establishment (PD, Brinks, etc), and that is:  prior arrest records.  They are basically just thugs trying to eke out a living by doing what they do best:  acting aggressively and without any type of tact or thought.

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

................................well now we have become ground zero for all the neanderthals to come here and challenge the status quo with upcomming SMACKDOWNs and HOULIGANISM from the savages from all parts of the globe

why the FT LAUDERDALA POLICE department bungled the initial investigation and took over a week to "change their tune" when the video came to light is a disgrace to the department which has no other reason than COVER-UP to explain its action - WHICH we should ALL hope is not the case

internetinternet
internetinternet

Off-duty policy.  All you need to know.  Essentially no police reports will be filed because they threaten you (victim) with arrest for trespassing, disorderly conduct and public intoxication.  Protects the bar against lawsuits because there will be no police records of the incident.  Only you the victim being told to leave.   

carlosmiller
carlosmiller

Spread this wide. Never spend another dollar in any of those places.

MrGumsandals
MrGumsandals

@JohnnySwift Only in the movies, but it's a movie I'd watch and I suspect so would a lot of other people.

JohnnySwift
JohnnySwift

@MrGumsandals  - Only in the movies?!?  That kind of stuff happens all the time.  Some dude gets kicked out a club, gets mad, and comes back with a gun and shoots the place up.  If I was ever treated like that I would shoot those guys dead.  I ain't afraid of jail.  been there, done that.  I ain't about to get punked by dudes like that, though.

 
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