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Hero Florida Man Shot Protecting Turtle Nests

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on July 23, 2015 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

This isn't the first time we've covered a story of bizarre criminal activities involving men in Florida. But in this case, the story centers around a true hero.

Stan Pannaman was volunteering to protect sea turtle nests on a Lauderdale-by-the-Sea beach when a drunken man assaulted him, and then shot Pannaman with his own gun.

Florida Man Shoots Florida Man

Pannaman is about as hero as you can get. The Vietnam veteran was volunteering his time with the South Florida Audubon Society and Sea Turtle Oversight Protection groups to monitor and protect sea turtle nests from beachgoers. That's when he encountered the less-than-heroic Michael Q. McAuliffe, who greeted Pannaman with, "I hate sea turtle people. You're all f---ing crazy."

The encounter only escalated from there, with the McAuliffe charging Pannaman and the vet pulling a handgun from his pocket, stopping the drunk man in his sandy tracks. "I thought I had defused the situation." Not so much.

As soon as Pannaman re-pocketed the weapon, McAuliffe lunged at him, knocked him to the ground, and stole his pistol, leading to this exchange:

McAuliffe: "I'm going to shoot you with your flare gun."

Pannaman: "Sir, it's not a flare gun. It's a real gun."


McAuliffe: "How are you? Are you OK?"

Pannaman: "Sir, you shot me. How could I be OK?"

The rest is history, and a bullet lodged in Pannaman's buttocks.

The Trouble With Turtles

McAuliffe was arrested on two charges of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, and battery on a person 65 or older. McAuliffe had already pled no contest to battery of a person 65 or older and indecent exposure last year, along with two separate charges of criminal mischief in 2008.

Considering his brush with death, Pannaman remained glib about the matter: "But really, monitoring sea turtle nests should not be a life-threatening experience." No, sir, it certainly should not.

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