According to the Orange County, Florida Sheriff's Office, Jason Combs, the owner of ASAP Towing targeted the vehicles of dozens of people specifically because of their sexual orientation.
Combs allegedly towed cars from a lot on International Drive across from the DoubleTree hotel, from which, according to deputies, he did not have a contract to legally tow vehicles. The DoubleTree was hosting the annual Gay Days celebration between June 5 and June 9, which is when the vehicles were towed.
Corporal Rick Schmeltzer with the Orange County's Sheriff's Office said Combs and his crew went so far as to wait for drivers to leave their vehicles unattended, slapped on stickers claiming the vehicles had been abandoned, and then immediately towed them. Schmeltzer said even if the towing company had a legal contract, the way Combs' team was conducting the tows was not allowed.
He had no authority to tow vehicles from that property during the time he took those people's cars. A lot of customers were angry they were getting their cars towed illegally. Some of them felt they were intimidated because of their sexual orientation.
Combs is facing nearly one hundred grand theft auto charges and is being held on a $51,000 bond at the Orange County Jail, although his lawyer insists there's absolutely nothing to it.
The fact that the [criminal] complaint said something about Gay Days makes me wonder what's behind it. If someone shoplifted during Gay Days would the complaint mention that it happened during Gay Days?
If the shop owners were gay and the reason for the shoplifting was because the shop owners were specifically targeted for being gay, then yes, I tend to think the complaint would indeed mention that it happened during Gay Days. In any case, Schmeltzer makes it clear the authorities believe they have an ironclad case.
With many of these people, their cars were towed within 5, 10, 15 minutes... This was total predator towing. There's really no other word for it.
Ah, Florida, one step forward, one step back. Insert Rebecca Rose/C.A. Pinkham Florida joke here.
Image via WFTV Broadcast.