Marine Reservist Attacks Bearded Greek Orthodox Priest Mistaken for Terrorist

A4S_bruce111109_93606dA Marine reservist, Jasen Bruce, is under arrest in Tampa after beating a man whom he believed was a Muslim terrorist. The man turned out to be Father Alexios Marakis, a bearded Greek Orthodox priest in a traditional Greek robe.

Marakis was lost and had pulled over for directions when he approached Bruce, who initially had his back to him while getting clothes out of the trunk of his car. Marakis speaks little English. Bruce hit him with a tire iron and then chased him three blocks. He tackled the priest, pinned him to the ground, and called police to say that he had caught a terrorist.

Police say that Bruce later claimed (1) the priest tried to rob him, (2) the priest grabbed Bruce’s crotch and made an overt sexual advance in perfect English, and (3) the Greek Orthodox priest yelled “Allahu Akbar,” Arabic for “God is great.”

On the last part, Bruce reportedly explained, “That’s what they tell you right before they blow you up.”

We give this man weapons.

When he is not on reserve duty with the Marine, Bruce, 28, is a sales manager for APS Pharmacy in Palm Harbor. What is interesting is the media is reporting that his blog discusses the benefits of increasing testosterone and human growth hormones. He previously pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor battery in 2007 for shoving a tow truck driver. It is not clear if he was also a terrorist.

Bruce is now facing charges of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. Marakis was hospitalized but does not want to press charges. My guess is that he would like to get out of Tampa.

For the full story, click here.

52 thoughts on “Marine Reservist Attacks Bearded Greek Orthodox Priest Mistaken for Terrorist”

  1. Jon,
    I notice that this story is still on your site, and I can’t find any follow-up or clarification on your part. Sadly typical of online bloviators: more interested in drumming up outrage to generate hits than reporting fairly or accurately. Surely that is not the most ethical approach to public commentary?

  2. Jonathon,
    I take it you don’t plan to change, add to, or subtract from your initial comments?

  3. Anonomously Yours – did you find it yet? Coming up on two weeks…

  4. I think Jasen Bruce overreacted, but I can see how it happened. If Bruce had been familiar with the Greek Orthodox tradition of using the “crotch grab” when asking for directions from strangers, or that Greek Orthodox tradition recommends pulling into a gated parking garage at night, instead of a gas station or 7-11, he would have been more understanding.

    The comments here did not give Jasen the benefit of the doubt.

    Why the tire iron? Because in a perceived struggle for your life, playing fair is not the most important thing. Winning is. 🙂

  5. rafflaw – I forgot to add that the priest in question was 29 years old, and Bruce was 28. Bruce, by the way, is a reservist, and his full-time occupation is sales manager for a pharmacy.

    This link contains a picture of the priest being loaded into the ambulance: http://byztex.blogspot.com/2009/11/marine-attacks-orthodox-priest-in-tampa.html

    And this picture includes Father Alexious in priestly regalia in better times: http://boston.goarch.org/assets/images/PARISH%20VISITS/0820.jpg

  6. rafflaw – you might want to take a look at the name of the link. ‘na-man-cleared-inbeatingof-greek-priest’ was pretty unambiguous, and was the name chosen by those who published the piece, not some aftermarket redirect. I’m pretty sure my word choice wasn’t “puffing up” the intent or the content of the piece.

    You might want to ask the DA why Bruce thought it necessary to use a tire iron. Although I understand the humor in your exchange on monks, that brings up a perfectly valid point, and one familiar to anyone who’s visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre – to wit, priests are not all fragile, tiny men, and they are no less prey to human failings, including violence, than anyone else. It would be sloppy thinking to assume that simply because one individual in the altercation was a priest (sorry, a Priest), that he could not have been in the wrong.

    I don’t think I’m insulting Mr. Turley. If one chooses to broadcast and embellish on accusations against a man in the public media, I think that one incurs an obligation to be fair, complete, and to follow up. He’s not done so in this case, and it’s not insulting to point that out.

  7. raff,

    Poor fellow had obviously run upon that rarest of priests, a Hrothgarian. Named for St. Hrothgar Stonewapper of the Rock, this order is small and known for their meditative practice which consists entirely of whacking each other in the head with a rock tied to a stick. Needless to say, there are many miscommunications when the brothers try to proselytize. Priest goes to bless him and WHAM!

    A simple misunderstanding.

  8. H,
    If you had said he was innocent until proven guilty as a “journalist” you would have been correct. However, you said that his name was cleared. The article that you quoted did not say that. You were insulting Prof. Turley for not being accurate and you puffed up the story to state something that it did not say.
    I have another question for you. Why did the Marine need a tire iron to fend off a Priest?

  9. Anonymously – I’d be guessing that when I said ‘in today’s Tampa Trib’ on 10 March, the answer to your question would be in the 10 March Tampa Tribune. I don’t know how many weeks it will take you to go to the Trib site and search for “Jasen Bruce”

    In case you’re terminally lazy or a bit slow, I took 20 seconds and got the link: http://www2.tbo.com/content/2010/mar/10/na-man-cleared-inbeatingof-greek-priest/

    rafflaw: that’s EXACTLY what it means. Perhaps if you lived in a country that lived under a Napleonic Code, it would work the way you imply – but under our system, a man is innocent until proved guilty, and this case seems to be a bit of egg on the face that assumed Bruce was proved guilty.

    You’ll both recall that I did not enter this conversation insisting Bruce was innocent, but that there was a great deal of material available that Mr. Turney had ignored in his denunciation. In light of this recent development, it seems a bit difficult to argue with that.

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