A US Navy veteran suffered a skull fracture while trying to stop three men from torturing a turtle outside his Daytona Beach, Florida residential complex. The trio has been arrested and faces assault and animal cruelty charges. The turtle died.
Gulf War veteran Gary Blough’s wife Jennifer was walking with their daughter around the pond at Wedgewood Apartments on Tuesday, when she saw the men “smashing up” a turtle, according to the police report. She returned home and told her husband, who went outside and tried to stop it.
“I asked them to please leave it alone, just let it go to the lake,” Blough told local news station WKMG.
When Blough said he did not want a fight, one of the men replied, “I don’t give a f*** and I don’t care if I go to jail,” according to the arrest report.
“While I had my head turned, two of them started hitting me in the back of the head and punching me. Next thing I know we’re in a scuffle and I’m fighting three of them at the same time, defending myself,” Blough told WOFL.
The three men punched him, knocked him to the ground and then kicked him repeatedly, Blough said. First responders said he had fractures on his skull and facial bones, internal bleeding and a concussion. The suspects fled after several neighbors came out to witness the commotion, WKMG reported.
The attackers were later identified as Ryan Ponder, 23, Johnnie Beveritt, 18, and a 16-year-old whose name has not been released. Beveritt was identified as the man who picked up the turtle and threw it down on the sidewalk, after which Ponder and the 16-year-old kicked the animal away from the pond.
The two adults have been charged with aggravated assault and animal cruelty, and are being held on a $15,000 bond.
Though his wife was traumatized by the experience, the navy veteran does not regret his actions.
“Yeah, I’d do it again and take the beating again if it meant saving that turtle,” he said.
Police found the turtle dead inside the pond, floating in a puddle of blood, according to WKMG.
“The animal likely suffered greatly during the time it was being battered by the three defendants,” the arresting officer wrote in the report.