After a citizen aired various grievances at the recent Gulfport City Council meeting regarding alleged threats to his safety and that of his wife, information from city officials as well as court documents confirm the presence of an old-fashioned feud between neighbors.
Jonathan Robert, the first speaker during public comment time at the Nov. 1 council meeting, praised Gulfport for its “progressive, inclusive, and welcoming nature” and then wasted no time expressing his displeasure with the conduct of Daniel Donelini, whose house on 58th Street South backs up to Robert’s residence on Freemont Street.
“From everything I’ve gathered, he is a known quantity and regarded by everyone in the community as a menace,” said Robert. “Literally everyone I’ve spoken to from code enforcement to the police records office has rolled their eyes when I mention this gentleman’s name.”
After referencing a meeting organized by Councilmember Paul Ray (Ward III) that he had with City Manager Jim O’Reilly and Police Chief Robert Vincent, he went on to cite numerous incidents in which he or a fellow neighbor has called the police regarding Donelini and his “abusive and violent behavior.”
“The Gulfport Police Department has been no help to us whatsoever,” Robert stated. “I had a meeting where I had to debate what a credible threat really was, after mine and my wife’s life had been threatened by this gentleman.”
Robert waved a document before the council and said that a judge had ruled earlier that day that their concerns were credible, issuing an injunction against Donelini regarding four different neighbors.
“Now I only hope that when I call the police department, they will actually effectively deal with this menace and deal with him appropriately,” he said. “This pattern of appeasement seems like it has been going on for years.”
Robert charged that the city has used its own resources to install landscaping in the easement in front of Donelini’s house because it is so unsightly. He alleged that Donelini has committed numerous code violations, keeping a rat-infested and unusable recreational vehicle in his yard, and shines lights directly into a neighbor’s house for purposes of harassment.
“I feel like we’ve done everything we can as neighbors to protect ourselves,” said Robert. “Now it’s in the hands of bigger authorities than us, and I would hope that they take these issues seriously and respond in kind.”
When Mayor Sam Henderson asked if he would like to share a copy of the court action with the council, Robert said he would email it to city officials. No one at City Hall had received such a document as of the morning of Nov. 3.
A search of the Pinellas County circuit court clerk’s website confirmed that four separate injunctions related to domestic stalking had been filed on behalf of four neighbors – Robert, his wife Andrea Desky, Nancy Sparks, and Cindy Stovall – with final judgments in each case entered Nov. 1 as Robert had said.
A number of other details regarding the activities of everyone involved were not mentioned in the Council meeting. After hearing Robert’s allegations about the lack of response from the police, Vincent outlined those details in a Nov. 2 memo to O’Reilly that he shared with The Gabber.
Four calls to police prior to the Sept. 8 meeting organized by Ray were documented by Vincent, starting with an anonymous call in December of 2021 about loud music coming from Donelini’s house.
More recently, Donelini called police Aug. 9 to report Sparks coming onto his property in violation of a trespass warning. There was no evidence to support that, and Sparks said she stood on a crate to look over the fence because she suspected Donelini of abusing his dogs.
Sparks reported Aug. 18 that Donelini was cutting bamboo trees on her side of the fence, and police confirmed this while adding that the trees are on an easement that can be maintained by either neighbor. Sparks also said that when she confronted Donelini, he said he would shoot her. No gun was seen and there was nothing about the alleged threat to sustain an assault charge.
A Sept. 2 confrontation did result in an arrest. After Donelini contacted police, an investigation revealed that someone had thrown yard debris into Donelini’s yard, so he picked it up and tossed it over the fence onto the easement. Robert attempted to stop him, and when Donelini walked onto the easement, Robert attacked him by hitting him several times with a bamboo stick, causing visible injuries. Gulfport police arrested Robert and charged him with battery.
Robert gave details to O’Reilly and Vincent at their meeting about what he said were threatening comments Donelini had made. Vincent told him none of these would by themselves rise to the level of a crime, but continued activity could provoke a stalking charge. Vincent said he gave Robert instructions on how to obtain a protective injunction, but when Robert asked him to contact the prosecutor to have his criminal charges dropped the chief refused to do so.
Vincent cited in his memo to O’Reilly several other incidents since the meeting in which Donelini and various neighbors alleged wrongdoing, such as throwing rocks across the fence toward each other’s houses and the cord to Donelini’s saw being cut. The most recent call by press time was Sept. 23 about Donelini playing loud music and shining flood lights into a neighbor’s home.