Florida Keys

Florida man with 35 arrests accused of bashing another’s head with coral rock

Higgs Beach
Higgs Beach

A Key West man who has been arrested 35 times is accused of smashing another man’s head with a coral rock on a public beach.

Police said he used a seven-inch-wide piece of coral rock to attack the other man at Higgs Beach. Paul Florez, 52, was arrested Thursday on a charge of aggravated battery. He’s in the Stock Island county jail with no bond.

This was Florez’s 35th arrest in Key West since 2006, according to Monroe County Sheriff’s Office records. Between 2007 and 2015, Florez was convicted of battery four times and he last appeared in court in April, when he was found guilty of causing property damage under $200.

The attack took place Wednesday at Higgs Beach, where police arrived at about 2:45 p.m. to find a blood-covered man near a garbage bin by the new children’s playground.

Bleeding from a head wound, Eduardo Rodriguez, 37, was taken to the hospital, where it took five stitches to close the gaping wound at the top of his head, according to the arrest report.

Rodriguez said he caught Florez trying to steal money from his girlfriend’s purse and when he confronted him, Florez picked up a rock and hurled it at his head, police said.

The blow knocked Rodriguez to the ground and he said Florez got on top of him and began hitting him — with his fists or a rock, he couldn’t say — “until he blacked out,” the report stated.

About 8 p.m. Wednesday, police found Florez lying on the floor of the gazebo at Bayview Park. Florez had a swollen, bloody cut between his eyes, officers said.

Florez said Rodriguez was the first to cast a stone at him, hitting him in the face with a rock that was “bigger than a grapefruit but smaller than a coconut,” police said. Florez said he picked it up and threw it back at Rodriguez.

Rodriguez picked Florez out of a photographic lineup, Officer Tiffany Mitchell reported and police went looking for the suspect.

The coral rock was placed into police evidence.