More than $20,000 worth of bait fish in a Florida shop are dead after one man poured liquid bleach into their holding pens late last month. According to WPLG Local 10, police arrested 25-year-old Alexander Ramer for the act, an independent seller associated with another another bait company.
Gary Case, the owner of the Boynton Beach shop that was vandalized, recognized Ramer and his boat in surveillance video which showed someone dumping two buckets of bleach into the shop’s pens on Ocean Inlet Drive. The two had previously done business together and had once been neighbors.
“I think it’s terrible,” Case told the Sun Sentinel. “I lost a lot of money and I don’t know why he would (do this), other than personal gain.”
Police reported that over 2,300 fish were killed, including a number of goggle eye and speedo bait fish. Case said that the intial estimate of $20,000 in losses may be in fact higher after the final count, perhaps approaching $30,000. Police believe that Ramer had arrived by boat by the Intracoastal Waterway early in the morning on May 31, deposited the bleach, and fled. Case instantly recognized the boat. After all, he was the one who sold the vessel to Ramer.
Boynton Beach police initially identified Ramer as an employee of Target Bait Inc., a competitor of Case’s. The company later said that although it occasionally bought bait from from Ramer, he was not an employee. Target Bait also denied having anything to do with the fish killing.
“We had no knowledge of any of this and never put him up to it,” company founder Robert Lawson told the Sun.
Case said that the loss of the bait was devastating to his business, especially during a time when demand was strong from anglers participating in local tournaments. Police arrested Ramer and seized his boat as evidence on Thursday. He now faces a felony charge of criminal mischief.