Florida man accused of beating shark with hammer at beach arrested, police say

A man facing misdemeanor charges for allegedly striking a protected shark with a hammer at a Florida beach last December was arrested Friday after failing to respond to a court summons, according to online zcourt and jail records.

Brian Waddill, 33, was arrested Friday by Indian Harbor police, a spokesperson confirmed to FOX 35. Details were not immediately released.

Online records show that Waddill was issued a court summons to be arraigned on the charges, but that the summons was returned. So, a capias – an order to arrest someone – was issued.

Waddill was being held on a $500 bond and has since been released, according to online records. He is facing two misdemeanor charges: failure to return a prohibited species unharmed and a violation against the harvest, landing, or sale of sharks.

According to investigators, a man was seen fishing at Bicentennial Beach Park in Indian Harbor Beach on December 20, 2022. After reeling in the shark, the man allegedly attacked the shark with a hammer repeatedly before throwing the shark back in the water, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's investigative report.

Surveillance video from a nearby events venue seemingly captured the attack, which was shared with FOX 35.

Witnesses identified Waddill as the person who attacked the shark, which officials and experts suspect was a lemon shark, the report said. Lemon sharks are a protected species in Florida and are illegal to catch and harvest.

Witnesses told the FWC investigator that Waddill hit the shark several times with a hammer, then flipped it on its side and used the backside of the hammer to rip the shark's gills out. He continued to hit the shark until he realized people were watching him, a witness said, according to the report. 

The man then attempted to return the shark to the ocean, which appeared dead, and eventually was carried away from the beach by the waves, the witness said in the report. The shark's carcass was not located.

Shark fishing is legal in Florida, though there are rules on the type of sharks that can be caught and pulled out of the ocean, as well as the number of fish that can be claimed. 

Lemon sharks are among 28 protected sharks in the state of Florida, according to the FWC's website. 

There are also rules depending on where you're fishing, such as on a boat, from the beach, a bridge, pier, or jetty.

When fishing from the shore – also known as shore fishing – the FWC requires anyone 16 and older, including those 65 and older, to pass an online course and to obtain a permit.