Last month, Otis Wallace was once again elected mayor of Florida City. It wasn't close. The reigning mayor won a whopping 71 percent of the votes cast in the small agrarian town south of Miami. Wallace has now been in office for 30 years, surviving hurricanes, the arrest of several of his employees, and even an FBI investigation — as revealed in a 2012 New Times profile.
The real fireworks occurred the day before the January 28 election. Documents obtained by New Times reveal a bizarre chain of events, beginning with a threatening call to a crisis hotline, leading to a police operation at the mayor's house, and ending in accusations of political sabotage and coverup.
Shortly after noon on January 27, a man called the Contact Crisis Line. He said his name was Timothy, claimed to be a military vet, and said he worked for the Homestead Police Department. Then he said he had a gun and was going to kill his girlfriend, Jessica.
Mayoral Coverup in Florida City?
The caller wouldn't give his last name or location. But the crisis line operator passed the number and threats along to Homestead Police. They, in turn, called Miami-Dade cops, who traced the call to a Metro PCS phone belonging to Wesley Wallace: the mayor's 23-year-old son.
Homestead Police informed Florida City cops of the potential hostage situation at 1:57 p.m. Four minutes later, Florida City officers were dispatched to Mayor Wallace's house at 569 SW Second St., where Wesley also lives.
What happened next isn't clear. According to an anonymous officer, cops surrounded the house and prepared for a standoff when the mayor arrived. He allegedly told police to lower their guns and turn off their lights. Wallace then walked into his house and brought out his son.
Otis Wallace says he was eating lunch when cops called him for help. "They couldn't get into my home because my gate was locked," he says. When he heard about the situation, he hurried over.
Wesley Wallace says he never made the call. "It was just a little mixup. I don't have all the details. I was at a party. There was alcohol, and I left my phone around. That's all I can say right now."
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His father tells a similar story. "My son was not suicidal. He was asleep," the mayor says. "He didn't know what the heck the police were talking about. He's got some buddies, and they played a practical joke on him."
The top cop on the scene, Lt. James Butts, says Wesley Wallace did, in fact, have his phone on him. He also did have a girlfriend named Jessica. But when Butts called her, she denied ever being threatened. "There was inconclusive evidence that [Wesley] was the caller," Butts says. No one was arrested or charged.
The mayor hints the call could have been the work of his political opponents.
"I was suspicious about the timing," he says.