The 40-year-old Georgia man in local custody on murder charges stemming from a March 5 shooting at a Rainbow Gathering in the Apalachicola National Forest has been transferred out of the hospital and into the county jail.
After a little more than two weeks recuperating at Weems Memorial Hospital, under round-the-clock guard, Clark Mayers, of Milledgeville, Georgia, was moved April 2 to the county jail, where he is being held without bond on murder charges.
Capt. Brad Segree said Mayers is transported three days a week to Weems to continue his rehabilitation from multiple stab wounds he sustained at the hands of individuals at the Rainbow Gathering in the aftermath of the early morning shooting.
Mayers is charged with one count of first-degree murder, which carries a possible sentence of death, for the killing of Jacob Cardwell, from Golden Valley, Arizona, believed to be in his late 20s. Eyewitnesses said Cardwell, who went by the nickname Smiley, was shot twice in the abdomen in the early-morning incident, sometime before 2:30 a.m.
“We’re hoping to get it (Mayers’ rehab) in house,” said Segree,
Mayers also is charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, a second-degree felony, for shooting 24-year-old Wesley Jones, who goes by the name Dice. Mayers was granted $50,000 bond on that charge.
Jones is undergoing treatment at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital, paralyzed from the effect of three shots, one to his neck. Following the shooting, both Jones and Mayers were airlifted from Sumatra to TMH, and were treated down the hall from each other.
‘Committed to principles of nonviolence’
In his report, Detective Brett Johnson said he and Detective Duane Cook arrived at the scene about 3:40 a.m., and conferred with Courtney McCrae, and other special agents with the U.S. Forest Service, which had issued a month-long permit for the Rainbow Gathering to be held in the national forest.
Rainbow Gatherings are annual meetings connected with the Rainbow Family of the Living Light, a loosely defined collection of people associated with hippie culture. The original Rainbow Gathering was in 1972, and has been emulated throughout the year, in regional gatherings, often in national forests.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Florida has so far declined to accept jurisdiction in the case, which will be handled in the circuit court. Mayers has retained attorney Richard H. Smith, of the Tallahassee law firm of Dobson, Davis and Smith, who has entered a written plea of not guilty on his client’s behalf. Smith did not respond to a request to discuss the case.
The beginning of Johnson’s report, which referred to the context of the Rainbow Gathering, underscored an irony in the case. “The Rainbow Family are individuals who are committed to principles of nonviolence and egalitarianism, and strive to achieve peace on earth and love on earth,” Johnson wrote.
The description of events was anything but peaceful and nonviolent, as witnesses described the horrifying chaos that surrounded the shooting and the subsequent beating and stabbing of a naked Mayers by Rainbow members, who had stripped him of his clothes.
Johnson said he first interviewed Angelika McDonald, who goes by the nickname Katt, and who said she was present at the initial shooting. McDonald said the incident began when Jones and Jeremy Strickland, known as Jude, were burning a tire, which angered Mayers, who had also complained about the tire fire the year earlier.
She said she asked Mayers not to put out the fire, and that he responded by saying that he was offended by the tire fire, and that “this was going to be different from last year,” according to McDonald.
Mayers returned from his truck with a camera and began videotaping, Johnson wrote in his report. This led to McDonald telling him that no one wanted their photograph taken, and to Jones putting the camera into the fire.
Mayers then went back to his truck and returned with a gun, according to Johnson’s report. “They told him to put the gun down, at which time he points the gun and starts shooting,” he wrote.
McDonald said she ran off into the woods and when she returned, she found Cardwell, who she did not know, dying on the ground. She said her boyfriend ran over and dragged her away from the scene.
McDonald said the tires of Mayers’ truck were then popped and that at one point he attempted to kill himself by pointing a gun to his head. “The next time she saw (Mayers) he was naked, lying in the road,’ Johnson wrote in his report.
According to McDonald, Mayers had “panicked and began blind shooting due to feeling like he was in a threatening position.” She told the detective that she, Jones and Strickland had begun walking towards Mayers just before he began firing.
Cook interviewed Strickland, who said that after he had walked away from the fire to talk with his ex-girlfriend Destiny Moore, he had returned to see Mayers arguing about the fire. Strickland said he confronted Mayers about the photographing, and observed Mayers “to have a gun tucked under his arm.”
Strickland said he and several others, who had put up their hands, asked Mayers to “please put the gun away. (Mayers) began backing up, pulled the gun, pointed it at them and stated ‘Y’all need to back up.’”
Strickland told the detective he said to Mayers “you’re not a killer, put the gun away,” just before he fired three shots in rapid succession.
Strickland said he took cover, heard several more shots, approached the back of Mayers’ black trailer “and was snatched to the ground by someone who informed him that the shooter was reloading.
“(Strickland) then heard two more shots and observed someone dragging another person,” Johnson wrote. “He crawled over to the second victim and watched as he died.”
Strickland ran to a woman whose vehicle had its headlights on, and asked her to pull up and block Mayers’ Ford F-250 truck from leaving.
On March 5, Michael Devaney, a special agent with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, took a statement from Sara Harrison, a nurse at TMH, who said Mayers told her he “had got into a fight over his dog with the Rainbow people. He then shot someone with his .380 and was attacked by 25 to 30 people.”
Johnson said the reported .380 handgun has not been recovered.
In his report, Johnson said a man named Willie Nichols was with Mayers at TMH when a doctor arrived and asked about the injuries.
“(Mayers) said there was a shovel, machetes and a sledgehammer involved,” the detective wrote. “(Mayers) said he shot two people and about two hours later a nurse was talking to him.”