Amid the robbers, thieves, burglars and other crooks who faced Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Renatha Francis Tuesday morning, Gianny Sosa’s crime stood out.
The 18-year-old Southridge Senior High School student had spent the night in lockup for performing a famous wrestling move known as the “RKO” — on a life-size plastic alligator in an artificial tropical pond at a Kendall mall. He had a friend record his antics and posted it on social media himself.
Shoppers in the video appear amused. Management at The Falls, where the shops are built around lush tropical displays, were not. Sosa was charged with criminal mischief, a potential felony because the Miami-Dade police report claims the plastic gator suffered about $3,690 damage, well above the $1,000 misdemeanor cutoff. In the video, the gator appears undamaged, aside from being wet and left floating upside-down. And prosecutors admitted in court that the estimate may be excessive.
Sosa’s court appearance was actually his second in less than a week. An attempt at the same “RKO” wrestling maneuver popularized by WWE pro wrestler Randy Orton on Sosa’s principal at Southridge — also captured on cellphone video — landed the teen before the same judge last week.
Rolling her eyes in disbelief, Francis looked at Sosa and said, “You’re back.”
“You got to find something else to do. I mean, really,” the judge said, admonishing the teen before releasing him without having to post bond. “You’re just going to keep coming back here and keep being a media sensation for all the wrong reasons.”
Sosa’s arrest Monday was his second in the past five days. He was charged with battery on April 11 after cellphone video surfaced of him trying the same wrestling move on his high school principal. The alligator stunt actually happened late last month. Management at The Falls contacted police after someone notified them about the Southridge video, which got local media play.
Sosa’s older sister Camila Sosa said her brother meant no harm but acknowledged he was trying to go viral and boost his social media profile.
“He was just doing the videos for fun,” she said. “He’s always trying to make people laugh. He’s never tried to harm anyone. He’s just trying to have a good time and be a kid.”
Sosa’s Instagram page, before it was taken down after the arrests, was filled with videos of stunts that evoke the early 2000s cable television show “Jackass,” in which participants did outrageous and often dangerous stunts that caused injury, but only to themselves.
In one video, Sosa does a back flip off a shelf at a Walmart into a wire bouncy ball bin, lands awkwardly on his upper back, but appears uninjured. In yet another video, the teen jumps around on top of a table of packaged cookies at a Publix bakery, causing a mess of the display.
Up to Tuesday, Sosa had won South Florida media attention but had proven less successful in building a social media following. He had a few hundred Instagram followers before his page disappeared.
Several decorative gators remained on display at The Falls on Tuesday — though it was not clear if the RKO victim was among them. They lurk around a pond in the center of the outdoor mall, just across from a Zales and a Victoria’s Secret. Signs along the edge of the pond encourage visitors to take selfies with the artificial reptiles in the background. The sign also tells visitors to visit Zoo Miami and see the animals for real, only five miles down the road.
Zoo Miami Communications Director Ron Magill said the alligators are part of a collaborative effort between the The Falls and the zoo to launch awareness of the Everglades.
As for Sosa, Magill said, “He’s obviously got some issues. Desperate for attention, is what he is.”