Stiffing a bartender on New Year’s Eve could cost alleged vandals who police say lit a Christmas tree on fire during the predawn hours of 2022 that damaged the iconic “Southernmost Point” buoy in Key West.

Torching the holiday tree was caught on surveillance cameras, police said. Burn marks measuring several feet high and wide defaced the 12-foot monument that marks the most southern tip in the continental U.S., a distance 90 miles from Cuba, police said. Damage to the landmark was more than $5,000, police said.

The vandalized Southernmost Point buoy.City of Key West

When footage of the alleged crimes made the rounds, bartender Cameron Briody recognized one of the men who had failed to tip him during a busy New Year’s Eve shift while he worked at Irish Kevin’s on the city’s famous Duval Street.

“I knew immediately that I had served him and that he had used a card, so his name would be on the slips,” Briody told the Miami Herald.

Briody could not be immediately reached for comment Wednesday.

Alyson Crean, a spokesperson for Key West police, confirmed Wednesday Briody’s information helped police identify two suspects.

Irish Kevin’s general manager, Daylin Starks, told the Miami Herald the bar has several cameras. Briody’s frugal customer and his friend, were connected to the bar through credit card receipts and time-stamped videos, Starks said.

“We could follow them the whole time, in and out of bar,” he said.

That information was shared with police, Irish Kevin’s said in a Facebook post, which credited Briody with a “huge shout out!”

“After a long night shift on one of the busiest nights of the year, when Cameron awoke to the news he immediately called work and alerted management that he was certain he had waited on these guys,” the post said.

“After combing through footage we were able to provide Key West PD with pictures of the men along with their names. We are extremely proud of Cameron, The Key West Police Department, and anyone else who took part in naming these suspects. We are also glad that those responsible for vandalizing a city landmark so near and dear to so many will have to take responsibility for their actions.”

Police announced the vandalism suspects were identified as David B. Perkins, Jr., 21, of Leesburg, Florida and Skylar Rae Jacobson, 21, of Henrietta, Texas.

Both face charges of criminal mischief with damages over $1,000.

They had made arrangements to turn themselves in, police said in a statement.

Perkins and Jacobson were captured on multiple cameras about 3:30 a.m. on Jan. 1 setting the Christmas tree ablaze, police said.

Some of the footage “quickly spread on social media, shows one man dragging the tree to the location. They hid when a car drove by, then took several pictures on their phones of each other in front of the tree and buoy,” police said.

“Then, while one man checked the surroundings, the other lit the tree, and a fire raged. One man took one last photo of the blazing tree before the two ran out of camera range. Using several police resources, the men were quickly identified.”

Perkins and Jacobson could not be immediately reached Wednesday.

Antonio Planas

Antonio Planas is a breaking news reporter for NBC News Digital. 


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