‘Student preacher’ arrested, accused of trying to ride manatee
ISLAMORADA, Fla. – A man was arrested Friday after he tried to take a ride on a manatee in the Florida Keys.
James Massengale, 47, of Key Largo, was arrested by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in Islamorada.
Massengale was seen “reaching out for, touching and laying” on top of manatees in a creek, Officer Bobby Dube said in a news release.
Dube said a witness confronted Massengale about his actions and told him that manatees are endangered species, but Massengale replied, “I’m riding it.”
When a state wildlife officer approached Massengale, he became verbally combative and denied having any interaction with the witness. Massengale later changed his story, Dube said, and claimed he “wasn’t going to stop until someone with a badge told him to.”
Massengale was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of molesting a manatee. He repeatedly told the officer to “take him to jail” and said he would refuse to go to court if issued a written notice to appear, Dube said.
Online jail records list Massengale’s occupation as a “student preacher.”