A Man Allegedly Assaults a Manatee Statue at a Restaurant, Leading to Traffic Gridlock

(NationalUSNews.com) — Rick’s Reef Restaurant and Patio Bar is a popular casual dining establishment in St. Pete Beach, Florida. They’re known for their 32-ounce bucket cocktails and a life-sized statue of a manatee that serves as a sort of unofficial mascot. The statue sometimes sports Rick’s Reef t-shirts or festive holiday accessories. On Friday, December 8th, the manatee statue was the victim of an assault by a rowdy, intoxicated customer.

The assailant was 23-year-old Anthony Michael Lessa from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Lessa was staying at a nearby hotel, the Postcard Inn on the Beach. While dining at Rick’s Reef Restaurant, Lessa apparently became very intoxicated and was reportedly hostile to employees when they informed him that he had already paid his bill. Then he allegedly ‘sexually molested’ the beloved manatee statue and threw some of the restaurant’s famous “gator bites” around as he fled.

Arriving at his hotel about half an hour later, the still-drunk Lessa behaved in a disorderly fashion and screamed obscenities at the staff. The hotel manager attempted to de-escalate by offering to escort Lessa to his room, but he refused to say his room number. When he refused to leave, the manager called the police. When they arrived, he was in the hotel parking lot, continuing his disruptive behavior.

Police had already been contacted by Rick’s Reef Restaurant. During the arrest, police found more “gator bites” in his pockets. He was shoeless and confused as to why he was being arrested. Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office deputies found his state consistent with alcohol intoxication and commented that there seemed to be some short-term memory issues. Lessa was charged with disorderly intoxication and released the next day.

The statue was unharmed in the attack, and in a recent Facebook post, it could be seen wearing a bright yellow t-shirt with the slogan “Come at me BRO” emblazoned on the front. Drunk customers are something that employees at restaurants and bars have always had to deal with, but it seems like the staff at Rick’s Reef Restaurant and Patio Bar are taking this bizarre incident in stride. Perhaps it is nice for a ridiculous Florida Man story to feature an out-of-towner for once instead of a local.

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