Liveaboard arrested after flare gun incident


A 29-year-old Boot Key Harbor liveaboard was arrested Thursday after shooting a flare gun at three people in another boat.


Joseph Thomas Gaston was charged with three counts of aggravated assault.


There were no reported serious injuries.


A woman brought her 17-year-old son to the Sheriff’s Office Marathon substation on Aug. 27 so he could report that Gaston fired a flare gun at him and two others during an incident in Boot Key Harbor that occurred at approximately 3:30 a.m. earlier that morning. The teenager told Deputy Frank Westerband that he was out tarpon fishing with a 15-year-old boy and 27-year-old man when they returned to Boot Key Harbor to find the 17-year-old mother’s liveaboard sailboat missing. The trio quickly found it adrift near Boot Key Bridge with all of its anchor lines cut with a knife.


All three quickly worked to secure the boat when Gaston and a woman arrived in a dinghy. Words were exchanged and the 17-year-old stated he believed Gaston and the female were responsible for cutting the anchor lines. The 17-year-old said Gaston then fired a flare gun at him and the two others. The boy used a sail to block the flare. The 15-year-old and the 27-year-old corroborated the story.


The Sheriff’s Office continued to investigate the matter. In September, Detective Sgt. Trevor Wirth was working on a separate matter in Boot Key Harbor when he was approached by a man who stated Gaston told him Gaston shot a flare at the 17-year-old victim in this case.


Warrants were issued for Gaston’s arrest.


Gaston was booked into jail Thursday morning.