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Homeless Man Arrested In Strong-Armed Robbery at Palm Coast Gas Station Over Cigarettes

| March 18, 2019

Two recent versions of Justin Taylor, who was rearrested Sunday.

Two recent versions of Justin Taylor, who was rearrested Sunday.

Last Updated: 4:25 p.m.

Justin Taylor, a three-time convicted felon who’s been homeless in Palm Coast for several years, was arrested Sunday morning after an altercation with a store clerk at a convenience store on Palm Coast Parkway, where he stole one pack of cigarettes and a can of tobacco. Months before, his father had written a local judge about Taylor’s severe mental health issues, begging the judge to commit Taylor to a mental health facility or else “he will for sure become a statistic.”

The incident took place at 4 a.m. at the Shell gas station at 890 Palm Coast Parkway. Flagler County Sheriff’s deputies who responded soon after saw a white man in the parking lot of nearby Kohl’s. The man was “extremely hostile” to the cop, his arrests report states, yelling profanities as they tried to speak with him. As they did so, he openly admitted to taking the cigarettes and tobacco at the gas station. By then deputies had recognized Taylor from previous encounters with him.

Taylor “then took a combative stance and balled his fist in a threatening matter at Law Enforcement,” the deputy’s report continues. “He then fled on foot towards the Verizon parking lot. I then sprinted after Justin before eventually tackling him in the Verizon parking lot.” Taylor ended up with lacerations to the head, which were checked out and cleared by paramedics.

Video surveillance at the gas station released by the sheriff’s office shows Taylor entering the store, assertively walking past the counter then behind it, toward the 20-year-old store clerk, who even as Taylor was walking in had his finger on the alarm button beneath the counter. Taylor then briskly walks toward the clerk, and within a foot or two of him turns right to the cigarette rack immediately behind the clerk, who, never panicked and after pointing outside, rushes Taylor as Taylor reaches for the cigarettes. The two scuffle briefly. Taylor walks backward away from the clerk, only to appear to grab for something else from a rack. The clerk rushes him again. That part of the scuffle is not within the camera’s view. When the two men reappear, the men are on either side of the counter and the clerk is again pointing at Taylor as if in warning. Taylor pauses in front of the counter then walks out.

The goods he allegedly stole are valued at less than $15. It was recovered after Taylor was arrested.

Two years ago, when his address was listed as being at a house on Winterberry Place in Palm Coast–Taylor’s father’s house–he was arrested after a fight there and charged with domestic battery by strangulation and aggravated battery, both felony charges. He had been in a physical fight with his father, who told deputies that his son “has a severe anger issue,” according to Taylor’s arrest report at the time. Taylor had been angered by the fact that his father wouldn’t give him money. After his arrest, Taylor laughed and said he couldn’t help but laugh at what he did, and that he didn’t feel bad for what he’d done, blaming his father for not being there for him. He was found guilty of both third-degree felony and spent nearly a year in jail–and was rearrested last January on a probation violation. But the judge sentenced him to time served.

It was the second time Taylor had been convicted of felonies after a fight with his father. The first was in 2016.

This time he faces a second-degree felony charge of robbery, along with a felony charge of resisting arrest with violence and a trespassing charge. He was booked at the Flagler County jail on $10,000 bond.

Letters his father wrote the court last April and August shed light on Taylor’s mental health difficulties. His father explained that Taylor suffers from depression and anxiety, and hears voices. His father asked a judge to lift a no-contact order as he (his father) was the only one who could help him. “I really miss my son your honor and would love to visit him while he’s in rehab,” his father wrote.

By August Taylor had been in jail a year and at a drug-rehab facility in DeLand before returning to his father’s house. There, he refused to take his medication, according to his father, and “started to have hallucinations and talking to himself and stating he wants to die.” His father attempted to Baker Act him but deputies would not take Taylor. Taylor left the house to stay with friends, but those friends called his father later and told him he had to leave. “He is hearing voices and he is trying not to listen to the voices but I told him if he doesn’t check into a hospital he will keep suffering,” his father wrote the court. “I took him to a motel in Bunnell and all I can do is put him there for a few days.” He asked the judge to have him committed to a hospital, otherwise he would be homeless “and he will for sure become a statistic.”

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29 Responses for “Homeless Man Arrested In Strong-Armed Robbery at Palm Coast Gas Station Over Cigarettes”

  1. Agkistrodon says:

    Just “regular” nice everyday people,….Right?

  2. Richard says:

    The Incarceration/Rehabilitation programs seem to be working great for Flagler County – SMH!

  3. Annonymous says:

    Here we go again with this homeless situation. The worst part is that the county is looking the other way to find a solution to this. Meanwhile, everyone’s home is not going to be worth what we owe on it since who is going to want to purchase it when there is a problem with homeless living here and being aggressive towards people. We have the library employees who are terrified to come in, in the morning and leave at night due to all these homeless roast around and threatening them. Now to top it off they are getting into altercations with the employees at the gas station. Come on something has to be done in regards to this mess with these people that about 80% of them choose to live like this.

  4. Dave says:

    I can not believe the clerk put his hand on that guy. Is that store policy? For the store clerk to physically protect the merchandise? That’s crazy!? I bet that guy can sue the store for being physically encountered. This man obviously just needs a little family counseling and counseling for his anger problems.

  5. oldtimer says:

    maybe he’ll get real time this time

  6. Tom says:

    Someone take a look at our St. Johns County Jail Website today.
    (3) homeless have been arrested for Tresspassing that give (3) different addresses of
    Palm Coast.
    Soooo, You Folks dropping them on US ?

  7. Anonymous says:

    Hey Dave,
    Have you ever worked at a gas station(#1 place where people get robbed at) or ever work in retail? How would you feel if you were at a gas station at 4am by yourself and this situation arose? That homeless man has been arrested PLENTY of times for the same things. He doesn’t need to sue anyone because he’s a piece of crap. How about you mind your own business and keep it moving DAVE.

  8. Vinny says:

    Beats his father almost to death. Thinks its funny. Has NO RESPECT for society and its rules……….Well, only one way to take care of this scumbag…………..Dump him out to sea about 26 miles off the coast. Tell him to swim back !

  9. Michael Cocchiola says:

    Calm down, everyone. The vast majority of crimes in this county are committed by people other than the homeless. Stop attacking and stereotyping people just because they are homeless. Let’s get together and find a solution other than shoveling the homeless into a dump truck and dumping them onto another community.

  10. flagler1 says:

    Just good old folks down on their luck, right. Demolish the camp.

  11. The original woody says:

    Looks like an healthy strappin young man that can get a job and work,you know work that 4 letter word.

  12. Dave says:

    I’m not saying it’s right but it’s possible since the clerk wasnt being attacked the guy was stealing and the clerk physically took matters into his own hands, that seems risky, the clerk should have jumped the counter and gotten outside immediately

  13. Concerned Citizen says:

    @ Dave

    If you try to come into my place of busniess and do me harm I will protect myself and any co workers. I don’t know that your just going after merchandise. And this dude has anger issues so I’m not about to surrender to him and put myself on the floor.

    Apparently this dude must not be good at being homeless. Most of those pandhandling make enough for a pack or two. Why buy when you can take though right? I mean from what I’ve read these folks have more rights than we do.

    This morning we were called to clean a facility that had a homeless person living in the back stairwell. They were arrested over the weekend for trespassing and vandalisim to private property. The corner of the stairwell had feces and trash in it.

    What a lovely way to start the day. And the building owner recieved a hefty clean up bill. I’m trying to still feel empathy for these folks but it’s getting difficult.

  14. Born and Raised Here says:

    The store clerk should have got out of there. I don’t beleive he should take matters into his own hands. Let the guy have a pack of smokes, and a can of chew. Your life is far more important then to confront this dude,

  15. Betty says:

    Hey Dave, first off, if you haven’t personally been in that clerks situation-you have NO idea what you’d do. Second, that clerk takes personal Responsibility for the Store & it’s contents! He protected it like he would his own stuff! I applaud the clerk!!!! As for the criminal, you see his brazenness to think he can Take what ever he wants-Hell No! Much like the Homeless living Rent Free on County Land-Hell No!

  16. Agkistrodon says:

    Hey Michael yeah I am Constantly hearing about all the people and the strong arm robberies………give me a break. But they are just “regular” people right………I have NEVER been Strong arm Robbed by a “Regular” person. The only time that happened, it was a CRIMINAL.

  17. ASF says:

    People with Dual/Multiple Diagnosis histories who are repeat violent criminal offenders should be given a chance to undergo treatment programs for all their problems–but, once released into the public arena, they should be on supervised probation for a good amount of time, where the condition of continued release into the community is that they are compliant with taking their medications and attending counseling and treatment follow-up as professionally prescribed, replete with random tox’s being performed by their probation officers on an on-demand basis. All people have rights to privacy and freedom but if they are determined to kill themselves in this fashion, they do NOT possess the right to endanger the public and take other people down with them.

  18. L Hendrickson says:

    It is quite obvious that this young man is in dire need of mental health services and medication to help with his auditiory hallucinations and delusions. It is a stain on our society and the respondents who do not understand mental health issues. Most people who suffer from mental health issues do not harm anybody & are usually at the mercy of our society. Quite clearly this young man is in dire need of help and our society does not seem to be able to provide it. Are we still living in the 18th century when we would lock up the mentally ill in an insane asylum because we don’t have the tools to deal with his issues? Most Sheriffs are reporting that the Jails and Prisons are filled with people who have mental health issues who did not understand the consequences of their actions due to their illness, but there is no place else for them to go. SHAME ON US!

  19. Diane says:

    This young man is seriously ill and not getting treatment he needs. Please don’t throw him away. Get him into rehab and on the right meds or I’m afraid his father is correct, he will be a statistic.

  20. Willy Boy says:

    Bold and brazen homeless holding city hostage.

  21. Kal says:

    I called and had him trespassed in October 2018 after he was passed out one early morning on the sidewalk when I arrived at work. Reading his history here on FlaglerLive feel I did the right thing rather then approach him to ask if he was alright.

  22. Well I'll be says:

    I work in the little strip area of firehouse subs savages smoke shop att the chinese food place pizza hut and the sushi place. The homeless drink and party behind the building constantly. These young ones tried to start trouble one day with a co worker and were about 2 seconds away from being legally handled and laid out on the ground for police to scoop up. The homeless in that area are ALL bad people to make it simple….except billy..hes actually pretty cool and respectful and passes out in the grass for his biggest crimes …but still a public drinker and urinater

  23. Just curious says:

    If there was obvious on going crime that was a danger to the public facilitated by the county government, would we as the public have any recourse such as a lawsuit? Any local lawyer want to take on a case? My injury is not feeling protected by the very county I pay tax to. I know the officers are only doing what they are allowed to do to protect us. Higher ups restrict what police can do. Flagler county is not protecting us because they are too worried about lawsuits from drunk drugged lazy homeless thugs.

  24. Ben Hogarth says:

    It’s sad to see this and even more tragic to hear completely ignorant comments from people who have no understanding of (serious) mental illness. Although the majority of people who are homeless probably suffer from substance abuse, ptsd, or simply feel as if they can’t fix their situation… there are a significant amount of people who suffer from very serious mental health issues. And some of these issues can lead to violence and must be treated by professionals. They are a danger to themselves and society the longer we look the other way and don’t publicly finance long term care for them nationwide.

    In the case of this young guy, it sounds as if he suffers from moderate psychosis and is perhaps even schizophrenic. The auditory hallucinations are extremely concerning and indicate someone who is deeply troubled and acts out occasionally on those voices.

    There is no rehabilitating that, I’m afraid to tell the father. There is only professional, lifelong treatment. We have to look at it the same way we do a disabled person, but recognize that he is also a danger to society so our impetus in getting him and others like him the care they need is paramount.

    Once again, there is no singular care for all homeless. Each individual requires an individual solution. And to paint a broad brush over all these people is liken to what Nazis did with mental health patients during WWII.. and I’m afraid to say, also similar to what happened in America before, during, and after the same period.

    It’s sick and those of you who have no understanding or compassion for mental health need to go to the library and pick up a history book and learn of the evils of men. Your comments echo this evil and you don’t even realize it.

  25. really says:

    So hes not homeless now. From experience not a nice person. More problems than a math book. Send him away awhile supervised and maybe he will figure it out.Any way WE don’t have to deal weith him for now.

  26. Kelli Martin says:

    Well I just read that the county purchased the old Sears building for no apparent reason, for $1.1 mil. Let’s move all those homeless from the tent city there!

  27. Lj says:

    Are you kidding behind sears ??residential neighborhood just through the back yard .
    Addiction leads to criminal and violent behavors .wake up

  28. Lj says:

    Poor store clerk that shell been robbed many times now and they put up with crap daily from vagrancy .Cops should start hanging out there more often ascot used to be .dunkin donuts gone from there but they still have coffee

  29. steve says:

    hey Ben save the violin. this guy is a never do well. He enjoys whats up or down with himself. Stop feeling sorry for criminals. We are all better off.

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