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Village backyard at 791 Broadway
Longboat Key Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016 5 years ago

Village brawl makes a splash

A fight over landscaping left one resident in the pool and another facing possible battery charges.
by: Kurt Schultheis Senior Editor

Longbeach Village residents Bob and Ruth Gray say they were sitting on their second-story balcony having lunch just after 2 p.m. Jan. 26, when their neighbor, Christopher Tatreau, walked into their yard and began screaming for Bob to come outside.

“I didn’t want Bob to go down, because I could tell by the sound of the screaming that something wasn’t right,” said Ruth Gray.

Bob Gray, 79, though, obliged and went downstairs. That’s when the event, captured in a one-minute video shot by a landscaping employee, unfolded.

The video appears to show Tatreau hitting Gray with his forearm, knocking him to the ground.

The video then shows Gray getting up and punching Tatreau in the face. Additional punches follow. There’s more scuffling before Tatreau apparently delivers a final blow, sending Gray sprawling and splashing backward into a newly installed swimming pool in his backyard.

“There’s no question he came onto our property and assaulted my husband,” Ruth Gray said. “Bob had a right to defend himself.”

Christopher Tatreau’s wife, Cheryl, told the Longboat Observer Monday that she and her husband decline to comment.

Gray described himself as “absolutely dumbfounded.”

“I’m no brawler,” he said. “But when somebody comes up to you on your property, bumps you and sucker punches you with his forearm, you have to retaliate.”

Gray reported lacerations on his right wrist and arm, as well as back pain. Tatreau sustained a black eye to his left side and a swollen and bruised face, according to the incident report.

“I’m no brawler. But when somebody comes up to you on your property, bumps you and sucker punches you with his forearm, you have to retaliate.”

— Longbeach Village resident Bob Gray

The report states that the Grays were having landscaping work done around a newly constructed swimming pool in their backyard when Tatreau began yelling about landscaping trucks blocking the alley between Broadway and Russell streets, preventing him from getting home.

The Grays insist that trucks never completely blocked the alley for any period of time.

Gray wants Tatreau prosecuted for battery, and the incident report states “the video corresponds to both the victim and the suspect’s accounts of the incident.” At press time, charges against Tatreau had not been filed, according to the Manatee County Clerk of the Court’s website.

The Grays and the landscaping company that took the video of the fight on a cellphone declined to provide footage. Deputy Chief Frank Rubino said the video can’t be released until the state attorney’s office reviews the case and the video evidence and decides whether to press charges in the coming weeks.

Village resident Shirley Beachum said news of the brawl “spread like wildfire” in the community.

“Only on Longboat Key,” Beachum said. “We heard about it at a board meeting and couldn’t believe it.”

Gray said he is in remission from lung cancer and has a pacemaker.

“This is the last thing I needed,” Gray said. “I came down here to retire and relax and enjoy paradise. Not to throw punches in my backyard.”

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