FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) — A Virginia Mother is asking for the public’s help after her 19-year-old autistic son was brutally beaten and robbed of his iPhone on Fort Lauderdale Beach on Wednesday night.
CBS4’s Peter D’Oench spoke with Mary Cannon by telephone just as she and her husband and 19-year-old son Michael Cannon who was victimized were about to board a plane to return to Arlington, Virginia after visiting Fort Lauderdale for the Easter week.
Cannon spoke out on the same afternoon that Fort Lauderdale police released new surveillance tape of the suspects by A1A near Beach Place just before 9:30 p.m. Wednesday when the crime happened.
Witnesses and Michael Cannon described the suspects as slender and in their early 20s and both men had tattoos and one had piercings on his face.
Mary Cannon said, “I feel very upset for my son and anyone who might be affected by a crime like this, especially for such a friendly family place I was very surprised that something like this would happen.”
Cannon said, “My son went for a walk on the beach. He was headed back to the hotel listening to music when two men approached him and asked him if he had any money for cigarettes. He was surprised by the question and he said no. They punched him in the face and knocked him down and they stole his phone.”
“He is doing well but his face was injured,” she said. “His face has bruises and scrapes and cuts but he is ok and there is no permanent damage we hope.”
“These men were in their early 20s and one of them was not wearing a shirt. They were African American,” she said. “Please come forward if you know them or recognize them and call Fort Lauderdale police so we can get these perpetrators.”
A police report said they were initially alerted about a fight near Beach Place. When they arrived, a couple who are part-time residents from Canada said they noticed two men attacking Cannon on the beach. The husband yelled at them to stop. One of the suspects claimed, “He took my phone and we are just taking it back.” The two suspects took off. The victim was seen “rolled up on the ground covering his head from the repeated blows.”
Police also scoured the scene and did find a large, yellow-colored ring with several white stones in the setting. They placed it an evidence bag as possible evidence. They said it appeared to be “costume jewelry” and is “a larger size like a man’s ring.”
The police report says the phone was an IPhone 6S in a phone case worth $200.
D’Oench also spoke with tourists and residents who all said they were horrified by the crime.
Carlos Marin, a tourist from Colombia, said “This is awful. It’s crazy. It’s got to be people with no feelings and no morality.”
Denise Priolo, a tourist from Staten Island, said “They are terrible. This happens all over the place. It is not safe anywhere. I hope they find these guys.”
Priolo’s uncle, James Bonadonna of Plantation, said “I think this is a shame. It is not safe on the Beach especially down here in Florida. I mean an autistic man. This is horrible, just horrible.”
Bonadonna said “I hope it doesn’t stop people from coming down here. We have a lot of visitors here and this is a nice place.”
“I sure hope they catch these guys,” he said. “They better hope that I don’t catch them first.”
Mary Cannon said she and her family would often visit South Florida and they planned to return in the future despite the attack on her son.
Anyone with information should call Broward Crime Stoppers at (954) 493-TIPS (8477).
There is a reward of up to $3,000.