Man arrested for assaulting construction crew with weed wacker

A man in Destin was arrested on Monday after an altercation with a water construction crew.

Austin Hopper was arrested by sheriff’s deputies on Monday after trying to make a get away on a riding lawn mower.

Working on the side of Highway 98, speeding drivers are usually the biggest threat to safety.

“It’s dangerous as the devil out here,” said one man who wanted to remain anonymous.

When working for Destin Water Users, sometimes employees have to turn off people’s water.  That’s where they normally encounter hostility.  Not from a man mowing a median.

“Oh my god, what is this dudes problem?” said the man mentioned above about how he remembers the encounter.  “I mean we deal with this all the time. If someones got a problem we take care of it address it and resolve it. But he gave us no indication there was a problem, he just went on a rampage.”

The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office says 32-year-old Austin Hopper attacked a Destin Water Users crew with a weed eater.

“We was just working on the side of the road and he was cutting grass down the side of the road and he stopped, started weed eating right there where we’re at, started talking to himself,” the man said.  “And then started trying to pick a fight with me and my guys.”

The man News 5 spoke with didn’t want his face shown or for his identity to be shared because of how this story ends.

“He stuck the weed eater up in the cab of the machine,” the man said, referencing the tractor.  “Then when my inspector got out here, he turned around and stuck the weed eater up in his face.”

When deputies arrived, the man says Hopper tried to ride away from them on his mower.

“Now I look back at it, it’s just unbelievable someone would do something like that,” he said.

Hopper was charged with aggravated assault, criminal mischief, and drug charges.  The sheriff’s office said he had meth and a syringe on him when he was arrested.

“I’m just watching my back,” the man said.  “I won’t be caught off guard again like that.”

News 5 reached out to Destin Water Users for a statement.  They said:

We work in the public and most times it’s uneventful. But sometimes, we encounter someone who, for whatever reason, they’re upset with what we’re doing.
Our employees are trained to be calm, do not react when provoked, and if necessary call the sheriffs office.

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