Greek Orthodox Priest Attacked by Marine Reservist in Florida

Author: Theodore Kalmoukos
Date Published: 11/14/2009
Priest-monk Alexios Marakis (left), who was attacked by a U.S. Marine reservist in Florida, is seen at a New England church.
Priest-monk Alexios Marakis (left), who was attacked by a U.S. Marine reservist in Florida, is seen at a New England church.

BOSTON – U.S. Marine reservist Jasen Bruce, 28, has been accused of attacking priest-monk Alexios Marakis, assistant priest at St. Nicholas Cathedral in Tarpon Springs, Florida, apparently with a tire iron, after mistakenly identifying him as a terrorist because of his long beard, hair and Greek Orthodox clerical garb.

The incident took place on Monday, November 9 at around 6:30 p.m., while Fr. Alexios was returning from a pastoral visit to the Old Age House and got lost on the road due to his faulty GPS system. According to reports by the AP, Tampa Police said that Rev. Marakis followed Lance Cpl. Jasen Bruce into the garage of his Tampa apartment building and asked for help. The latter struck him twice with a tire iron and chased the priest for several blocks. When police officers arrived Bruce called Marakis a terrorist and said the priest had shouted “Allahu akbar”, Arabic for “God is great”.

Fr. Alexios was taken by an ambulance to a hospital where he was treated and released. Bruce was arrested and ended up in jail accused of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. He was released on $7,500 bail.

Bruce’s lawyer, Jeff Brown, claimed self-defense, maintaining
that the 28 year-old Bruce had been followed into the parking garage of his Tampa apartment building about 6:30 p.m. Monday by the Rev. Alexios Marakis, who then made sexual comments and grabbed the reservist’s genitals.

Tampa Police spokeswoman Laura McElroy said Bruce’s charge of a sexual advance was one of several explanations he offered when officers arrived.

“One was that he tried to rob him. The other was that he was an Arab terrorist and shouted