Flagler Beach police identified the man allegedly responsible for a series of hate crimes against local business on Nov. 19 and 20 as Liam Mackin, a 70-year-old resident and property owner with his wife at the Bridgewater condominiums in Flagler Beach, unit E101, since 2015. He has been a local resident for 30 years.
But a day after a warrant was issued for his arrest on second-degree felony charge, Flagler Beach police learned from the Central Florida Intelligence Exchange that Mackin had fled the country on Dec. 5, traveling to Ireland, with no scheduled return date.
City records show that Mackin at the time that he got his certificate of occupancy at the condominium had a residence at 143 Lagmore Glen in Belfast, Ireland.
“Should this criminal attempt to re-enter this country at any border crossing, airport, etc., he will be arrested on the outstanding arrest warrant so he can answer to his crimes,” Flagler Beach Police Chief Matt Doughney said. “There are many beautiful shades of green in Ireland, and if he has the courage to return, I’d love for him to see the Flagler County Inmate Facility,” which he referred to by its common “Green Roof Inn” moniker.
There was nothing funny about Mackin’s vandalism, which took place the evening of Nov. 19 and the morning of Nov. 20. The hate crimes were more extensive than originally reported. There was nothing random about them. Mackin deliberately and very specifically targeted businesses that were either owned by Israelis or Americans of Jewish heritage, or had business or family affiliations with Jewish concerns. Mackin’s crude graffiti statements about killing children–reviving one of the oldest blood libels in history–appear to have been intended not only to deface property, but to intimidate or scare the properties’ owners.
In some cases, it worked.
In addition to graffiti on four properties, Israeli flags displayed at some of the properties were spray-painted, as were vehicles and signs, and the statue of a shark had its fin ripped off.
The Dollar Store at 312 Moody Boulevard had $925 in reported damages. The Salty Turtle at 116 Moody Boulevard and at 200 South Ocean Boulevard reported damage, including the vandalizing of an Israeli flag. That Mackin knew to tag both locations of the Salty Turtle underscored his awareness of the business’ ownership, and the fact that his vandalism was not random.
At 204 South Oceanshore boulevard, where the owner, of Jewish heritage, leases a portion of the building to the Salty Turtle owner, a vandalized Toyota’s repainting cost was to be $1,900. Other costs of the vandalism totaled $690. The 51-year-old owner told police that “this incident has made him fearful for the safety of his property and family and that this incident has made him afraid of even speaking about the criminal acts he has endured, for fear of retaliation by the suspect,” according to the investigative report.
At 306 South Oceanshore Boulevard, a building jointly owned by a former county commissioner and the owner of 300 South Oceanshore, the latter an Israeli citizen, the repair bill had been paid but not yet reported to police.
At 323 Moody Boulevard, Sharkey’s Gift Shop, two large Israeli flags had been displayed in the window. Anti-Semitic graffiti was painted over them. The words “child murders” were spray-painted on a vintage car parked there. The shark statue outside the business was intentionally damaged. The 52-year-old owner, of Jewish heritage, had hesitated to report the incidents and finally did so on Dec. 4. Police could still see signs of vandalism and tie the spray paint to the other incidents.
Around 5 p.m. the evening of Nov. 21, Flagler County Sheriff’s detective Rosanna Vinci, who investigated the crimes with assistance from the Sheriff’s Office’s Real Time Crime Center, had a conversation with Mackin. She was working on the case, trying to secure surveillance video footage at Johnny D’s, when she saw Mackin at the bar, a laptop in front of him, speaking with two others. He was wearing the same clothing she’d seen in surveillance video, same markings, same build. She struck up a conversation. He identified himself as Liam Mackin, and they talked about how he ended up in Florida.
Vinci was so struck by the similarities in appearance and clothing matches that after she left, she sent a police officer to Johnny D’s, body cam activated, to capture footage of Mackin and have a conversation with him, “without causing alarm,” as she describe it. The footage was secured. When Vinci returned to Johnny D’s to get the surveillance video from the business–at 8:30 p.m.–she saw Mackin leaving, and walking with an abnormal gait, the same abnormality she had detected in surveillance video of the suspect. Still, at that point she had nothing “beyond a reasonable suspicion,” and decided further investigation was warranted.
Vinci continued finding and examining additional videos, including from her own department’s fixed cameras on South Flagler Avenue, from Poor Walt’s, the bar on Moody Boulevard, from Sharkey’s, and from other businesses. Along the way, she saw the suspect park a small white vehicle–the same small white vehicle she’d seen Mackin get into after Johnny D’s–and saw him vandalizing Sharkey’s and walk toward two other locations that were vandalized. Vinci, a typically thorough investigator, then reconstructed the suspect’s moves from more than a dozen videos she had collected from five businesses and the police department, almost minute by minute, business by business. Still not completely satisfied, she collected another half dozen clips, finally determining that Mackin was the man in the videos, the man she’d spoken to at Johnny D’s–the man who’d vandalized properties with anti-Semitic hate.
“Evidence shows that Liam Mackin targeted the victims in this case due to their race, color, ancestry, ethnicity, and religion,” Vinci concluded in her report. “The victims In this case were determined to be either or both Israeli nationals who practiced Judaism, and or leased their property to a person of Israeli or Jewish heritage. Liam Mackin systematically, intenllonally, and maliciously sought out businesses owned by people of Jewish/Israeli heritage and damaged their properly by painting over the Israeli flag and spray painting antisemitic messages such as, “Jew Murder”, “290,000 child killers” “500,000 Jew child killer”, 501,110 Jew child murderer.””
The vandalism would have ordinarily led to a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison. Because it has been filed as a hate crime, that aggravates the felony to second degree, punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
“These types of crimes don’t occur very often in Flagler Beach,” Doughney was quoted as saying in a release, “but when they do, we will utilize every resource available. We will proactively seek assistance from our community, along with help from our local, State and Federal Law Enforcement partners to ensure that no stone is left unturned. Our goal is to work together with one common mission, and that is to hold the person or persons responsible accountable for their unlawful actions.”
Mackin for the past five years has benefited from a $100,000 homestead exemption, twice the normal amount, due to his senior status.