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Complaint filed against Marine in theater melee

MANATEE -- A 14-year-old girl who was told to be quiet by a Marine and his wife on Christmas night at a local theater during a movie has filed a battery complaint with the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.

The Marine, Federico Freire. 27, denied the girl’s charge, and the sheriff’s office will not pursue the complaint, saying there were inconsistencies in the girl’s statement and that the case is closed.

“We investigated the complaint, and there isn’t even enough there to send to the State Attorney’s Office,” said sheriff’s office spokesman Dave Bristow.

Brittnee Collins, of Bradenton, filed a complaint Tuesday stating she was struck in the lip by an unknown man outside the Carmike Royal Palm 20 theater after words were exchanged with Freire’s wife, according to the sheriff’s office report.

Collins depicted a slightly different version of events after Freire, who is on a two-week leave from Afghanistan, and his wife, Kayln, went public with their story.

Collins said in an interview with the Bradenton Herald on Wednesday that Freire and his wife were viewing the movie while she and her younger family members were getting up and down to get snacks.

Collins, who was sitting in front of Freire, said Freire told the youths to shut up, and then told one of the juveniles he has was going to slit her throat.

“That’s when, I’m like, you don’t need to talk to her like that. She’s young,” Collins said.

Kayln Freire went to get the manager and the row of juveniles was subsequently kicked out of the theater. The teens contacted parents outside for a ride.

Collins said while waiting, Freire and his wife passed them.

“I don’t know what she said,” Collins said.

Collins then followed Kayln Freire and said, “‘Did you say something to me because I didn’t say anything to you.’ She gets in my face. She’s telling me that if I touch her she’s going to whoop my (butt).”

At that point Freire comes to get his wife and leaves.

Collins said Freire approached her in an aggressive manner and she closed her eyes.

“I just knew he was going to hit me,” she said.

She said 15-year-old twin brothers then struck the couple in her defense.

Collins said her father and uncle attempted to tell deputies about the incident, but a deputy responded by telling them they were going to jail.

In all, five people were arrested in connection with the fracas. Collins and none of her family members were arrested.

“They weren’t talking to us,” Collins said when asked why they didn’t report Freire’s alleged actions sooner. “They arrested the boys who hit him because he had hit me and that’s just the way it went. And then we left because other fights started breaking out.”

Freire described the allegations as “completely false.”

“I just grabbed my wife with both arms and pulled her out of harm’s way,” he said. “If she wants to file false charges, she can bring it. There were plenty of witnesses.”

A deputy noted there was no bruising on Collins’ lip when the report was filed Tuesday.

Bristow said the girl’s complaint will be closed out because there’s not enough evidence to support a charge.

”At this point, it will be a closed case,” he said. “We talked to the girl and the stories are a little inconsistent. ... The girl said her eyes were closed. It doesn’t add up. Someone may have bumped into her or something like that. We don’t have any evidence that someone came up and punched her.”

Bristow also noted that there were a total of 10 moviegoers from the theater that night who complained about the group of teens.

Collins’ father, Leon Collins, said he plans to file a complaint with Florida Department of Law Enforcement and schedule a rally at the sheriff’s office.

In the meantime, the story has garnered calls from national media outlets. Freire said he and his wife have been bombarded with calls from the press.

“It’s becoming aggravating,” he said. “We’re just trying to enjoy what little time we have left.”

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