Police say Jonathan Scott Baxley, 28, was arrested after he squirted several people at the annual Beach Bum Parade with a gun filled with what the island’s police chief described as “watery pepper spray.”
Shortly after 6 p.m. Friday, an officer responding to a water complaint at Sandcastle Inn on Butler Avenue saw Baxley throw something onto the roof of the hotel, according to a Tybee police incident report.
A group of people were yelling at Baxley, and as the officer intervened, they told him Baxley had squirted them with pepper spray.
The officer noticed “red spots of pepper spray” on a few of the people and they smelled of the substance.
Baxley, when taken aside, told the officer he and his girlfriend had been sprayed with water while walking down the sidewalk. He did not want his phone to get wet, so he said he got angry and asked the people to stop.
When they didn’t, he told police, he sprayed them with pepper spray.
Three people on the receiving end told police a similar story, saying Baxley sprayed the entire group in a sweeping motion, then struck a woman on her head using either the pepper spray gun or his hand.
Medics were called to treat her and her husband, who apparently had pepper spray in his eyes.
Baxley, who lives on Tybee, was arrested for simple battery and aggravated assault, then taken to the Chatham County jail. He was later released on a $10,000 bond, according to the sheriff’s office.
Police took the pepper spray gun as evidence, according to the report.
The three people who were sprayed told police they thought Baxley and his girlfriend were participants in Beach Bum.
As usual, spectators gathered along Butler Avenue on Friday evening for the 28th annual parade were armed with a variety of water guns. As floats pass by, the two sides exchange what’s supposed to be friendly fire.
Water balloons, buckets and pressure washers are outlawed during the event. Water flingers are asked to limit their targets to willing participants.
Overall, the event went smoothly, said Police Chief Bob Bryson, with eleven arrests made and about 40 citations issued.
Most of the arrests were traffic-related.