• Man kicks swans, sleeping duck while practicing karate at Lake Eola, police say

    By: Kelly Healey , Angela Jacobs , Steve Barrett

    Updated:

    ORLANDO, Fla. - A man accused of attacking two swans and a duck at Lake Eola appeared before a judge Friday.

    Rocco Mantella, 34, was arrested Thursday morning after he kicked two swans in the head and then another swan in the backside while practicing karate at Lake Eola, Orlando police said.

    He was charged with cruelty to animals, according to an arrest report.

    Mantella may bond out of jail Friday. 

    The report said a witness told police Mantella kicked the swans “as hard as possible.”

    Another witness said Mantella kicked a small duck that appeared to be sleeping.

    The report said Mantella laughed after seeing the reaction of a woman who witnessed him kicking the swans.

    Witnesses said Mantella made an effort to leave the sidewalk and harass the animals by intentionally kicking them in the head.

    Officials said they are monitoring the conditions of the swans to ensure the birds weren't injured.

    Download: WFTV mobile apps

    "I guess he was, like, (practicing) karate kicks or something, and just, like, at one point, he just kicked it right in the head," witness David Camp said. "And I was like, 'What was this guy doing?'"

    Police arrested Mantella after finding him walking around the lake.

    WATCH: Alleged swan kicker appears in court

    Thursday's alleged incident wasn't the first incident involving the park's iconic swans.

    In June 2016, an off-duty officer said she witnessed a man punch a swan in the head. Weeks earlier, half a dozen cygnets were taken from their mother. They were never found.

    In 2013, a swan was euthanized after a dog attack. And in 2012, a man was seen pulling a swan by its neck.

    Officials said Mantella has been arrested six times in two months.

    Mantella was charged with trespassing at Disney Springs earlier in the week.

    Records said he was previously arrested in March for demanding cigarettes from a couple and stealing food from trays at a McDonald's restaurant there.

    He was also arrested in Jacksonville for drinking beer at a beach and twice for huffing an aerosol can, records said.

    Janet Hutchison, of Orange Blossom Family Health Center, works daily with transients who have mental illness. She said Mantella's history raises serious red flags.

    "That would be very troublesome," she said. "Because you're seeing something going from very minor behavior to verbally assaulting people to finally battering an animal."

    Hutchison said it can be difficult to intervene when minor crimes mount in cases such as this, but she also said injuring animals is often a disturbing precursor to harming people.

    Mantella remains jailed in lieu of a $1,000 bail.

    Next Up: