CLAY COUNTY, Fla. -- The strong smell coming from Whitey's Fish Camp had nothing to do with the restaurant, and led to one man being taken into custody under the Baker Act.
According to the Clay County Sheriff's Office, deputies went to investigate the odor Sunday evening, and when they got to the camp on county Road 220, they found employees of the restaurant outside also trying to track down the source of the smell.
When they realized it wasn't coming from the restaurant, the deputies went to the nearby mobile home park.
A travel trailer in one of the spots had its door open, and the deputies could see inside a pressurized cylinder. The smell was strongest there.
Narcotics detectives said deputies, 34-year-old Gregory Lawley had gotten an empty CO2 canister, cut off the top of it, and used it to cook chemicals.
Lawley poured acetone, liquid sulfur and other chemicals into the cylinder, then put it on an electric burner to cook the chemicals, producing the noxious smell.
The HAZMAT team evacuated the area until it could be determined that the chemicals weren't combining to create a toxin.
Lawley told the deputies he was "trying to make diamonds," and that his actions were not illegal and he would continue in the nearby woods if they made him stop in the trailer.
While he was right -- he wasn't actually breaking the law -- the deputies considered him a "serious threat" to people in the area - a violation of the Baker Act - so he was taken into custody for a mental evaluation.
Lawley has been arrested eight times by the Clay County Sheriff's Office in the past decade on various charges from traffic offenses to aggravated battery and is a registered convicted felon.
First Coast News