Man accused of assaulting Salvation Army bell ringer in south Fort Myers arrested

Published: December 14, 2021 12:06 PM EST
Updated: December 14, 2021 5:35 PM EST

The Lee County Sheriff’s Office has arrested the man they say assaulted a Salvation Army bell ringer outside a Publix in south Fort Myers on Monday.

Jackson Avilmar (Credit: Lee County Sheriff’s Office)

Deputies arrested Jackson Avilmar, 30, on two charges of battery on a person 65-years-old or older and a charge of damage to property of $1,000 or more.

According to deputies, Avilmar blindsided the woman and slapped her on side of the head. Deputies say that Avilmar then vandalized a car at the RaceTrac gas station in the same plaza along South Pointe Boulevard.

WINK News spoke with a bell ringer who works near where the attack happened. She said when her daughter told her about what happened, she immediately worried about the woman who got hurt.

“I couldn’t believe that because I never heard anything happening like that here, you know. It was something new for me. I come here every year and I go nowhere but here. They ask you where you want to go, and I tell them I always want to go where I’ve been last time, the neighborhood Walmart on Pine Island Road,” said Salvation Army volunteer Francine Robinson.

Clayton Bryson, who also volunteers for the Salvation Army said, “wow, that’s not good. Especially an old woman too, that’s, regardless if it’s a bell ringer, it’s an old woman.”

Travis Hutto volunteers at the Walmart Supercenter on Pine Island Road.

He said he knows what to do if someone threatens him. “Don’t fool with them. Let them take it and don’t do nothing. That’s what they tell us. Let them take it and don’t get hurt.”

Major Carlyle Gargis is the area commander for the Salvation Army in Fort Myers. She said, “in my 20 something years of being involved in the Salvation Army, this is the first time I’ve ever heard of anything like this happening. And you know, they didn’t even go after the kettle.”

The bell ringer suffered minor injuries from the attack and is doing OK.

“Our ringer, she is a great volunteer and she just shared with us that she has actually already signed up to take in and bring in some more spots for us this Christmas.”

Avilmar was tracked down by Lee County deputies and taken into custody without incident. He is being held on a $45,000 bond.