City honors man who monitored Duval Street shooter for police

Police say Derek David began firing into a crowd on Duval Street from the intersecting Charles Street, which borders the Red Garter Saloon.
Police say Derek David began firing into a crowd on Duval Street from the intersecting Charles Street, which borders the Red Garter Saloon.

Dave Smith, a longtime bar bouncer who manages the Red Garter Saloon strip club on Key West's Duval Street has seen his share of violence while on the job.

But when Smith watched a man carrying a pistol walk past the Garter's side door on Charles Street early March 21, he decided to do more than call 911.

"He was staggering and kept messing with his gun," Smith said Monday night in the empty back bar of the Garter as a few dancers worked the front rooms. "If I didn't do something, he could've gotten away."

Smith followed who police say was Derek David, 33, of Sugarloaf Key, who allegedly shot three people on Duval Street after a drunken domestic dispute with his wife.

The gunman twice pointed the pistol at Smith, who tracked him and waited until police arrived.

"That's him right there," Smith said he told officers. "He's pointing the gun at me. In front of a cop he's pointing a gun at me. The cops kept telling him to get on the ground."

David, who is free having posted $482,500 bond, is charged with three counts of attempted murder and two of assault.

One of the assault charges is for allegedly pointing his gun at Smith, who followed the gunman down the narrow lanes behind Duval that lead to Kino Sandals, 107 Fitzpatrick St.

David was hauled to the Stock Island jail after an officer stunned him with a Taser.

At a hearing set for 8:45 a.m. today in Monroe County Circuit Court in Key West, State Attorney Catherine Vogel's office will ask a judge to lock up David until his trial opens, citing his prior run-in with local police six months ago.

In September, David was drunk, angry and armed with a .380 handgun outside a Duval Street bar when police gave him a warning and confiscated his gun for a day.

David fired that same gun four times March 21, according to prosecutor Colleen Dunne, injuring three men on Duval Street. David was initially booked for aggravated battery and his bond was set on those potential charges.

Smith said David was silent during the arrest and before, while he was walking from Charles Street down Telegraph Lane and across the brick-paved Fitzpatrick Street.

"I figured, he's coming in here, I don't need my girls getting shot," said Smith, 47, a native of Rockford, Ill., who moved to Key West eight years ago.

The gunman didn't enter the Garter but police say David, at 300 pounds and 6 feet, two inches tall, began manhandling his petite wife, Jodie David, and then became enraged when passersby intervened.

Smith heard the gunshots and stuck his head out the side door on Charles Street to see what was happening. 

"If I'd known he was out of bullets, I would have jumped him," Smith said. "I didn't see him shooting. He had the gun pointed in the air. I thought he was shooting in the air."

Smith says police nabbed David in an alley behind Amigos restaurant.

Smith, who with his girlfriend has a 1-year-old son, Harley James, is the only civilian given a commendation by city leaders for his role capturing the gunman. First responders were set to receive honors at Tuesday's City Commission meeting.

"The suspect was safely taken into custody seven minutes after the original dispatch was made to [the police's] Alpha Night Shift," the commendation reads.

Mayor Craig Cates and Commissioner Richard Payne wanted to include Smith in the commendations, given the violence that was contained that morning.

"You have people do some crazy things,” Cates said. "Thank goodness it's not the norm."