State attorney’s office, FBI looking into ‘just shoot them all’ post by former Tampa businessman

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The party is on hold at Franklin Manor, a downtown Tampa nightclub and bar on North Franklin Street, after inflammatory comments allegedly made by the now-former co-owner.

Franklin Manor was owned by Lanfranco Pescante and David Anderson until Tuesday, when Pescante stepped down after posting a message on Instagram that read, “just shoot them now.” It was apparently in reference to those protesting the death of George Floyd.

8 On Your Side learned Wednesday that Anderson now is no longer a part of Osteria Bar + Kitchen and two other Tampa restaurants he helped oversee.

“David Anderson is no longer involved with Osteria Bar + Kitchen, Mole y Abuela or Shibui. Fabio Viviani Hospitality has no ties and has never had any ties whatsoever with Franklin Manor,” said Rachel Ayotte, the CEO and founder of public relations firm Bread and Butter. Viviani is a celebrity chef made famous by the Bravo program “Top Chef.”

“I would say just that’s karma for that guy,” Tampa Mayor Jane Castor said about Pescante. “And that he’s gonna have to deal with what he said. Those comments are reckless and ridiculous. All comments like that.”

Tampa Police Department Chief Brian Dugan explained Wednesday that other agencies are now involved in the investigation into the controversial post.

“We have consulted closely with the state attorney’s office and we are now working with the FBI to see the type of crimes,” he said.

On Tuesday night, police said around 500 protesters marched through city streets and, at one point, stopped in front of Franklin Manor. They shouted and, at times, yelled “Franco,” referencing the now-former co-owner.

Dozens of officers in protective gear stood firm in front of the business.

“Everybody denounces what he said,” Dugan said. “You can imagine the emotions of our police officers, who had to stand there and protect his property when they don’t even agree with what the clown said. But that’s what cops do.”

Social media has blown up for days with comments and posts allegedly made by Pescante. Some indicate racism while others suggest harassment. 8 On Your Side has not been able to independently verify those claims.

“Any type of insensitive comment – racist, whatever that is – that’s just part of someone’s character who is a horrible person,” said Carmen Caliente, who said she has known Pescante since she was 19. “So if you’re a horrible person in that retrospect, you’re probably a horrible person in every way.”

She considers what happened a major fall from grace.

“It’s a really hard pill to swallow to see them be successful, and not only successful, but he was held on a pedestal in our community,” she said. “I’ve seen pictures of him shaking hands and on magazines. He has been associated with these great people and it has totally upset me, completely. I have felt like there is no justice. I felt like justice was robbed.”

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