By now, most everyone knows President George W. Bush began that fateful day, Sept. 11, on Longboat Key, but the FBI is now investigating whether terrorists also began that fateful day here on the island.
At about 6 a.m. Sept. 11, Longboat Key Fire Marshall Carroll Mooneyhan was at the front desk of the Colony Beach & Tennis Resort as Bush prepared for his morning jog. From that vantage point, Mooneyhan overheard a strange exchange between a Colony receptionist and security guard.
A van occupied by men of Middle Eastern descent had pulled up to the Colony stating they had a “poolside” interview with the president, Mooneyhan said. The self-proclaimed reporters then asked for a Secret Service agent by name. Guards from security relayed the request to the receptionist, who had not heard of either the agent or plans for an interview, Mooneyhan said.
The receptionist gave the phone over to a nearby Secret Service agent, who said the same thing — no one knew of an agent by that name or of any poolside interview.
The agent told the occupants of the van to contact the president’s public relations office in Washington, D. C., and turned them away from the premises, Mooneyhan said.
In light of the attacks, Mooneyhan wonders if what he witnessed is related to the events of Sept. 11.
So does the FBI.
“That’s very strange,” said an unnamed agent with the Sarasota field office of the FBI, who directed agents to look into the matter.
Earlier, the FBI questioned a Longboat Key man who also had a strange run-in with a van occupied by men of Middle Eastern descent.
At 8:50 a.m. the man stood on the Sarasota bayfront waiting to watch the presidential motorcade pass. A dilapidated van passed him with two men of Middle Eastern descent “screaming out the windows, ‘Down with Bush’ and raising their fists in the air.”
The Longboat Key resident later reported the incident to police, who turned the matter over to FBI agents who questioned him.