Craig Fletcher: Vero Beach mayor sleeping with weapon nearby after police say he was threatened
Ed Bierschenk, Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers
5:05 AM, Apr 26, 2013
8:19 AM, Apr 26, 2013
VERO BEACH, Fla. -- Mayor Craig Fletcher said he is sleeping with a weapon nearby for the first time since he was in Vietnam because of an alleged threat on his life.
Fletcher said the threat was made by Jason Kozdra, 40, who had been involved in a dispute with Fletcher nearly two years ago.
Kozdra, whose wife ran in the last municipal election, has since filed a federal lawsuit against Fletcher in regard to that April 28, 2011, incident.
Kozdra could not immediately be reached for comment.
According to Police Chief David Currey, Kozdra called the police station looking for Currey around 6 p.m. April 10. Currey said he was temporarily out of the office and the dispatcher who received the call told Kozdra to call back the next day.
Upon finding he couldn't talk to Currey, Kozdra allegedly told the dispatcher he would the drive the 2 miles from his home and "kill the mayor."
Three police officers were then sent to Kozdra's house. According to a report by Officer Chris Cox, Kozdra told him that he wished to file a criminal complaint against Fletcher in regard to some alleged "false statements" Fletcher had made regarding a prior incident. The report doesn't specify what that prior incident was but the two had an encounter in 2011.
Fletcher said after the April 28, 2011, City Council meeting, that Kozdra screamed at him outside City Hall and grabbed his arm spinning him around as he tried to walk away. Fletcher told police and a police bulletin was issued to the entire council about the incident.
Kozdra denies that he ever assaulted Fletcher. In his April 16 self-filed lawsuit, Kozdra contends that Fletcher's 2011 allegations were false. He claims they were made with the intent to "censor, intimidate, and silence" him.
Cox said during an interview with Kozdra the night of the recent incident, that Kozdra said several times he was "thinking about killing the Mayor."
Cox decided to take Kozdra in for a mental health evaluation. During the trip to the hospital, Cox said Kozdra said he was a "sovereign citizen" and that he considered it his duty to "kill government officials and police officers."
Currey said police talked to the State's Attorney's Office about the possibility of filing charges, but they decided not to because no threat was made directly to Fletcher or to a specific police officer.
Kozdra is seeking an undetermined amount of punitive and compensatory damages for the April 28, 2011, encounter.
City Attorney Wayne Coment has told Fletcher that since the incident related to Fletcher acting in his capacity as city councilman the city will defend the lawsuit.
Fletcher said he had not heard from Kozdra since that 2011 incident.
"I thought the issue was dead," said Fletcher.
Fletcher said he is on the lookout whenever he goes outside and has told his daughter not to bring the grandchildren to his home. He said his wife is "afraid to go out in the yard."
Police have instituted a close patrol on his residence and Fletcher is even looking at obtaining a concealed carry permit.
"It's not something I take lightly," he said.
Fletcher said he is considering getting a restraining order against Kozdra, but he said he is not sure whether it would do any good.