Orange Park, FL

2 ‘suspicious people’ reported at Blanding Boulevard Waffle House; arrested for unlicensed weapons

Zoey Fields

Orange Park Waffle House employees called the Clay County Sheriff’s Office Monday night which led to the arrest of a 19-year-old and 20-year-old who were carrying unlicensed firearms, deputies say.

Deputies arrived at the Waffle House (704 Blanding Blvd.) at approximately 11:43 p.m. in reference to a call for service regarding two suspicious people. Waffle House employees told deputies that two male subjects sat down for a period of time in the restaurant, but refused to order anything.

The male subjects were later identified as Nathaniel Bennington, 19, and Devin Viernes, 20, according to the arrest report.
Bennington and Viernes were first seen by Blanding Boulevard Waffle House staff dressed in black clothing and face masks.Photo bySkyler GeraldonUnsplash

The employees said that Bennington and Viernes put on black face masks which covered their entire face besides their eyes. It is also noted both Bennington and Viernes were wearing black hoodies and dark colored pants. This made employees nervous, especially because of their refusal to order food, employees told deputies.

Bennington and Viernes reportedly left Waffle House (without ordering anything), exited the business and started walking in the direction of Stonebridge Drive, which is the next street southwest from Waffle House, the arrest report said. Once they left the restaurant, employees called the sheriff’s office, they said.

Deputies were able to locate Bennington and Viernes behind the business of Tuff Shed (700 Blanding Blvd.) because they matched the description—both still wearing black hoodies and black face masks.

“Due to them standing behind a closed business where it is unusual for law-abiding citizens to be while wearing dark clothing and face masks, we requested they provide their identification,” deputies said. It was at this time that responding deputies became aware of their age and identity.

During a pat down, deputies found a rifle underneath Bennington’s clothing. It was slung around his shoulder with the barrel of the rifle going down his right pants leg and the butt of the rifle going up his hoodie, deputies said.
Nathaniel BenningtonPhoto byClay County Sheriff's Office

The rifle had a magazine inserted containing 29 rounds of ammunition, the arrest report said.

During Viernes’ pat down, deputies found a handgun with a magazine inserted containing 17 rounds of ammunition, they said.
Devin ViernesPhoto byClay County Sheriff's Office

Both Bennington and Viernes were placed into handcuffs at this time, deputies said.

It is noted that the rifle was identified and not reported as stolen, but information regarding who the rifle belonged to has been removed from the arrest report. There is no information about the handgun in the arrest report other than it did not have a make, model or serial number listed, deputies said.

Both Bennington and Viernes were transported to the Clay County Jail and face charges of carrying an unlicensed and concealed weapon, loitering and wearing a mask or hood on the street.

According to Florida law, no person over the age of 16 can be on any lane, walk, alley, street, road, highway or other public way while wearing a mask, hood, or device which conceals any portion of the face.

Click here to read more about Florida’s mask and hood law.

Both of their bonds are set at $11,005.

It is currently unknown where Bennington and Viernes are from, but this story will be updated when more information becomes available.

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Accredited journalist with experience covering a wide range of stories consisting of breaking news, city and county government, crime and courts, feature stories and local interest. Twitter: @zoeyfields0

Jacksonville, FL

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