Kids confronted by man at Port Charlotte day care recall ‘scary’ incident

Reporter: Anika Henanger Writer: Jackie Winchester
Published: Updated:
Marc Smith (Credit: CCSO booking photo)

A Port Charlotte man was arrested Friday after deputies say he verbally assaulted two kids and then waved a gun around near their day care while he was intoxicated.

The Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office says Marc Smith, 72, was upset because the kids, ages 9 and 11, were putting out trash cans for pickup from Sunny Day Academy on Muriel Avenue.

Smith began yelling and cursing at the kids about not wanting to look at the cans all weekend and then told them to go get an adult. The two were being supervised by the day care’s director as they took out the trash, and she called the day care’s owner when Smith’s diatribe escalated.

The owner went to talk with Smith and told him not to speak with the children at the day care. Smith was angered by this request and pulled a handgun on him, CCSO says. The day care was placed on lockdown as children and parents were in the direct line of fire if the firearm were to go off.

“Smith continued to wave the firearm around in a rude, careless, angry and threatening manner after committing the aggravated assault,” said CCSO.

Amber Garland, a mom of four and the director of Sunny Day Academy, told WINK News that nine kids were outside in the parking lot, along with some parents, when Smith brandished a gun and waved it around.

“It was picture day on Friday; everybody got their cap and gown photos, ending the day … And then it escalates over trash cans,” she said.

Garland watched her son Jacob and another student, Hunter, as they took the trash cans to the curb. Suddenly, 11-year-old Jacob and 9-year-old Hunter heard Smith yell.

“He came out and started yelling and cussing at us. We put the trash cans down. And he started stepping closer to us, so we ran inside,” Hunter said.

Garland called the day care’s owner.

“He [the owner] stepped one foot into the road and the guy started yelling at him and pointed a gun at him,” Garland said. “Zachary put his hands up in the air and told him, ‘You’re not going to talk or treat the children at my facility that way.'”

Jacob says “it was scary and I didn’t like it because he also took out a gun, too. And I was scared. That’s why my mom told me to come inside to protect me from the guy who took the gun out.”

Parents and day care workers rushed the kids inside for the lockdown.

“Truthfully, fear struck, and then protective kicked in,” Garland said.

Jacob says once he got inside, he knew he was safe, and “I was relieved that my mom and everyone else was out there to help us.”

“Because the adults can save us,” said Hunter.

Smith is facing charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without intent to kill, improper exhibition of a dangerous weapon or firearm, and using a firearm while under the influence of alcohol.

“He just seemed mad. Just mad,” said Garland. “Something’s got him so angry and he was just lashing out.”

Smith remains in the Charlotte County Jail. His bail has been set at $8,000.

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