The newspapers in southern Florida, amid the sheafs of inceasingly despondent real estate ads, have stories that capture the essence of life that has spent too much time in the sun. The Naples Daily News reports in its year-end summary:

Hearing cries of “shark” doesn’t usually prompt people to whip out a gun and blast away at the water.

But that’s what Donald Glidewell Jr., who was visiting Wiggins Pass State Park from Alabama, did on June 18 when beachgoers shouted “shark.”

Glidewell, an engineer, told Naples police that he’d been drinking on the beach when someone said, “Hey, there’s a school of fish out there. It looks like they’re being followed by a shark.”

Another person yelled, “Someone should do something. There’s someone swimming out there.”

He said he’d do something.

He pulled out a handgun and began firing rounds into the water. Police were called and found five spent rounds on the beach, as well as three live rounds.

While driving to the jail, Glidewell kept telling police he didn’t understand what he did wrong and he needed to return to work in two days.

He was charged with discharging a gun while intoxicated. After a non-jury trial in August, he was sentenced to six months of supervised probation, 10 days in the county jail, 50 hours of community service, was fined $500 — and his guns were confiscated.

Despite Glidewell’s defense attorney begging the judge not to jail him immediately because he’d lose his engineering job, the judge was adamant that he be tossed in jail that day.

“Human lives were in danger,” County Judge Mike Carr said at sentencing. “If any case would be at the top of the mark on a misdemeanor, this would be it.’’

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