Thousands raised for victim's family at Nippers Beach Grille

At a special event at Nippers Saturday, customers helped raise almost $4,000 for the Tipton family.

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Beach Police Department has released the name of a man who was shot and killed outside a popular bar and grille Thursday night.

Officers were called around 8:00 p.m. to Nippers Beach Grille in the 2300 block of Beach Boulevard for reports of a fight and shooting.

According to a press release issued late Friday morning, Zachariah J. Tipton, 40, of Fernandina Beach, died on a service road outside the restaurant.

A family friend told First Coast News Tipton was a father of three who supported local bands and loved his family and music.

The friend added that Tipton was at Nippers at the time for a live music event and Bike Night for motorcycle enthusiasts.

A trailer for a local motorcycle group with red, white and blue stripes and a label reading " Sons of the Beaches, Inc." was seen across from Nippers early Friday morning.

Owner Rudy Theale, who opened Nippers in 2011, said approximately 300 people were in attendance Thursday night.

He said it was the eighth Bike Night Nippers has hosted and the first time there's been a major issue in the business' history.

"It's just very shocking that something like this would happen. We're a family friendly restaurant," he said.

Authorities said on scene that the shooting followed a fight between five or six men outside. They said one of the men pulled out a gun and shot and killed Tipton.

"It happened right when I left. The cops started getting here, pulling in," said customer Ryan Austin.

Officers took the suspected shooter into custody, but have not said if they have made any formal arrests. Right now, detectives are busy interviewing about 230 witnesses.

Jacksonville Beach Police Chief Patrick Dooley said the violence showed anything can happen even at seemingly safe places.

"It's unfortunate that certain people feel the need to solve all their differences with violence. That's a sign of our times right now. It's horrible. It shouldn't be happening this way," he said.

Theale said he doesn't know any of the parties involved, but that his heart is breaking for their family and friends.

"This kind of thing obviously affects us emotionally," he said.

Now, Theale said he is taking a hard look at his restaurant's firearms policy and is cancelling all future Bike Nights.

"There's always some bad apples in every hobby who ruin it for everyone else," he said. He added he's not trying to isolate any customers, but that he has to worry about the thousands of families he serves every month. One of the events happening at Nippers when the shooting happened was Bike Night., The owner, Rudy Theale, says he doesn't want to isolate a group of customers, but those Bike Night events will not be held anymore.

"I think our customers would not be happy with that event continuing and I've got to think about our business and our customers first," he said.

Theale also says he's taking steps to make sure the deadly events of Thursday night don't repeat themselves.

"We're certainly going to take precautions to make sure that's not happening here," he said.

Community Reaction

People in the area around Nippers Beach Grille say the area is so safe, they didn't believe word of a deadly shooting in the parking lot.

Dick Boger has owned Beach Marine for almost 22 years. He says the shooting happened too close to home.

"About 100 feet from my office, " he said.

Now, he says he's concerned about the area he's considered safe for decades.

"When something happens for the first time in 22 years, then you wonder if it's going to happen again and again," he said.

Mark Gorman lives close to Nippers, just across Beach Boulevard, and goes to the restaurant almost weekly. He says the incident takes away the community's innocence.

"It kind of takes away from the whole atmosphere," he said.

Thousands raised for victim's family at Nippers Beach Grille

At a special event at Nippers Saturday, customers helped raise almost $4,000 for the Tipton family.

40 year old Zacharius Tipton was killed when an argument outside the popular restaurant turned into a deadly shooting.

The owner, Rudy Theale, says now it's time to move past the tragedy. A list of events and guests are scheduled for the 4th of July weekend.

As for changes to security, Theale says on top of bike nights being cancelled, he's going back to the way things were at Nippers.

"When I built this place, I built it in inspiration of the islands," he said. "When you go to the islands you don't have boat nights, or bike nights. If you want to enjoy the islands you go there," he said.

Jacksonville Beach Police say they're still investigating. There's no word on a suspect, or possible charges.


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