Palmetto Bay

Cops: Man smeared own blood on walls, caused $500K in damages to Palmetto Bay Village Hall

Holdson Marcelin
Holdson Marcelin

During a 56-minute onslaught inside an empty government building in Palmetto Bay Village, a homeless man smeared his own blood on “all the walls in all the offices” of Village Hall, grabbed an American flag from reception and destroyed office equipment, technology and artwork valued at about $500,000, police say.

When the incident ended, 38-year-old Holdson Marcelin dragged the U.S. flag -- now slightly burnt at the end and stained with his blood -- with him as he walked away from the building and appeared to disappear in the early hours of Thursday morning.

The scene of wanton destruction was captured on surveillance footage, which police used to identify Marcelin.

“Did you see what I did to the American flag?” he would later ask.

Miami-Dade Police arrested Marcelin Saturday on charges of burglary with more than $1,000 in property damage, criminal mischief causing $1,000 or more in damages, the damaging of artwork in a public building, and the public mutilation of a U.S. flag.

He was booked into Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center.

The mayor of Palmetto Bay Village announced Saturday evening that police had apprehended the man.

Mayor Karyn Cunningham said officers apprehended Marcelin about 1 p.m. Miami Gardens Police, following a tip submitted to Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers, detained the man until Miami-Dade Police arrived.

Cunningham thanked the fast action of police and assured village residents that officials would “remain vigilant to ensure your safety.”

Police used surveillance footage to identify Holdson as the person who forced his way through the front door of the Palmetto Bay Village Hall and then damaged a reception area, the permitting office and the council chamber inside the building at 9705 East Hibiscus Street in Palmetto Bay. He used a large metal garbage can to smash the front doors open just before midnight, his arrest affidavit states. Twenty minutes earlier, about 11:36 p.m. on Wednesday night, a Miami-Dade Police sergeant met with Marcelin outside the Village Hall to “discuss personal property procedures stemming from a previous arrest on March 23, 2019, for a[n] open fugitive warrant from the state of Illinois,” the arrest affidavit states.

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Police arrested Marcelin on March 23 for loitering and discovered a warrant out of Chicago, where he is wanted for assulting a police officer. He has an extradition hearing set for late April, court records show. It remains unclear why he was released from jail after his arrest.

Inside Village Hall, he damaged four large-screen TVs and numerous computer systems. Police said he caused extensive damage to the walls and electronic keycard systems used to gain entry to additional hallways. While dragging the U.S. flag, he damaged local artwork valued at about $21,500 and, after cutting himself during the incident, smeared his blood on interior walls of the building, according to the affidavit.

The flag was later found on U.S. 1 and Southwest 168th Street, burned at the bottom and stained with Marcelin’s blood.

During Saturday’s press conference, Village Vice Mayor John DuBois alluded to the issue of mental health funding in Florida without explicitly discussing Marcelin’s state of mind.

“If there is a silver lining to this incident, it’s that this case and others like it -- along with the overshadowing tragedy of Parkland -- really underscore the need for increased funding for mental health services, both from the state and federal level,” he said.

In 2017, police said Marcelin vandalized a restaurant at Trump Tower in Chicago, breaking glass, pouring wine on furniture and causing up to $100,000 in damages, the Chicago Tribune reported in October 2017. Hotel security captured him, and Marcelin was later arrested and released on his own recognizance.

Village Hall was partially opened to the public the following morning, Cunningham said, with only the zoning and permitting offices still closed. The entire building will reopen Monday morning at 8:30 a.m.

“This is wonderful news for our entire community,” Mayor Cunningham said Saturday at a press conference at Village Hall. “Prompt action by our policing units and other police departments resulted in quick apprehension of the suspect.”

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