Man arrested for pepper-spraying toddler and family

Staff report

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Axel Antonio Valentin-Cruz, 26, was arrested yesterday afternoon after a family said he pepper-sprayed them and their toddler.

The victims told a Gainesville Police Department officer that they were walking up the stairs to their apartment, laughing and talking about a family member, when Valentin-Cruz, who was standing in the breezeway near their apartment, said, “What did you say to my sister?”

The victims told the officer that they tried to explain that they weren’t talking to him, but that infuriated Valentin-Cruz, and he pulled out pepper spray and sprayed all of them. One victim said that when she pointed out that she was holding a two-year-old, Valentin-Cruz said he didn’t care about the baby and continued to spray them.

The victims said Valentin-Cruz retreated to his apartment while they were still standing there, shocked. They said he then came out with a Taser, arced it several times, and ran at them, trying to Tase them. They were able to retreat into their apartment.

The officer noted that law enforcement had previously responded to the same location on May 5 following reports that Valentin-Cruz was chasing and threatening residents with a Taser.

The officer reported that pepper spray was still noticeable in the air when he arrived and that pepper spray had stained the back of a victim’s shirt. Two of the victims were still wet from trying to wash off the pepper spray, and they said their skin was still burning.

Post Miranda, Valentin-Cruz reportedly denied spraying anyone with pepper spray and said he was the one being chased and was in fear for his life. He reportedly said he has bipolar disorder but does not take medication.

Valentin-Cruz was arrested last August after allegedly punching a woman in the face in the laundry room at GRACE Marketplace. About a month later, his attorney requested a reduction in his bond because he had said people were trying to poison him in the jail food and that detention officers had killed his sister and were planning to kill him. Judge Walter Green signed a Baker Act order for a mental health evaluation; the order specified that Valentin-Cruz be released to Court Services once he was stabilized and that he must abide by all treatment recommendations. However, a month later, the charge was dropped.

Valentin-Cruz has been charged with three counts of battery, two counts of making threats to do violence, and one count of child abuse without great bodily harm. Bail information is not public because one of the charges involves a child.

Articles about arrests are based on reports from law enforcement agencies. The charges listed are taken from the arrest report and/or court records and are only accusations. All suspects are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. 

    • Aren’t you so bright! Thinking that all Hispanics are Mexicans and noncitizens.

  • Pepper spray my kids and that’ll be last thing you ever do. These victims were luckily docile with their reaction.
    Crazy people are exponentially increasing all across the world so everyone who’s able best learn how to protect themself and their loved ones.

  • Just looking at his mugshot, one can tell he’s a loony tune. He deserves everything he gets in jail.

  • He’s schizophrenic. Mentally ill. The state has failed him over and over again. He actually thinks people are out to get him and kill him.

    • I believe it. Sure seems like it. And he’s the right age for onset, though it seems like he’s been dealing with it for a few years already. I’ve dealt with one closely, and the state has failed him over and over, though he had the good fortune of having some money for a period of time and was able to choose for himself doctors who really helped as much as possible. But for those who have no money, there’s no quick, one-size-fits-all solution for these folks the way the public would like.

    • He will mess with the wrong person one day and it will be his last florida has a very good SYG law

  • Well, he will probably got off by saying he is bipolar. He is also (at this point) become a reborn jailhouse Christian. I know this, because I know that just before the judge called his name at his first appearance hearing, he was praying that Jesus will let him out of the jail.
    As with most first appearance hearings. See… It’s his holy name that saves! Hah!
    Jesus is a very popular guy within the judicial system. See!
    When the drunkenness, and the highs wear off, hah!
    and those deputy’s bring that sandwich for breakfast, haah!
    then they put those stainless bracelets on’em to heard’em down to that video courtroom, hah!
    The good lord is called upon!!!
    You can feel the Holy Spirit wrapping his saving grace all around in that courtroom.
    We call on you lawd Jesus! Just save me today!
    I can feel his presence!!! Hah!

    • Mr. Johnny Cash. His prayers got answered when Biden became president. His prayers were answered when he arrived in Gainesville and his prayers get answered everytime he commits a crime and gets away with it, which will be pretty much every time in this blue ass, tree hugging town.

      • “Tree hugging.” Didn’t know you could still call Gainesville that anymore, since it sold its soul to the S Fl money-man developers. Old Gainesville was a hippy, tree-hugging town. Nu-Gainesville (particularly Poe-era and beyond) is a Broward-county wannabe that’d cut down a 100yro oak tree if it meant another Starbucks, block of overpriced apartments, or some here-today-gone-tomorrow trendy yuppie store. Gainesville died with Poe and CeLEbRaTioN PoInTeEeee.

  • When did Brandon allow this loser to come into the country to harass legitimate Americans?

    • He’s American, you idiot. Since when does the color of your skin decide what country you belong too. People ignorant like you are why this country is failing.

      • You seem to know him very well and jump to defend him why haven’t you stepped up to help him

  • Such a sad situation…I remember the debate about whether the mentally ill should be mainstreamed back into society or kept in asylums, as had been the practice. Those in favor of emptying the asylums prevailed, and all or most of those who had been living there were set free – that was the premise, that we can’t incarcerate someone just because they have a mental illness. I was conflicted about the solution then, and I still am. I see the homeless encampments and the terrible living conditions of so many who can’t take care of themselves, and the violence done to and by them…mental illness is a terrible affliction with no easy answers. I don’t like the idea of government being powerful enough to declare someone unfit to live as they wish (as long as they don’t harm others), but I also think that just abandoning those who really can’t thrive on their own to survive as best they can is not kind. It’s a difficult problem, and one that our country has not yet figured out. This young man is a danger to others, and probably to himself. At this point, he’s committed a violent crime, and that can’t be excused and ignored. Just so sad.

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