Snake Farm Shooting: Tom Crutchfield and Business Partner Bruce Stephenson Involved in Deadly Argument

Categories: Crime
tomcrutchfieldguy.jpg
via YouTube
Tom Crutchfield was grazed by a bullet after an argument with his business partner.
The story of the stand-off at a Homestead reptile farm has more twists and turns than a snake slithering through the jungle. Riptide has learned that Bruce Stephenson was found dead after a stand off with police while he had barricaded himself in a home on the premises. Tom Crutchfield, the namesake of the reptile farm and Stephenson's business partner, had been grazed by a bullet after Stephenson fired a gun at him sources say. Stephenson's cause of death has not been released.

The Miami-Dade Police Department's Special Response Team responded to the Tom Crutchfield Reptile Farm at 35000 SW 212th Ave. shortly before noon yesterday after an argument between Crutchfield and Stephenson escalated to gun fire.

According to sources, Stephenson grazed Crutchfield with a bullet before barricading himself in a building on the property. Police were unable to talk Stephenson out of the building, and once they entered yesterday at around 7 p.m. they found Stephenson.

Crutchfield's girlfriend may also have been present during the shooting.

Stephenson's cause of death has not been released, though it may not necessarily be a suicide. The homicide unit is investigating the situation.

While the name of the farm featured Crutchfield's name, Stephenson, a former radiology supervisor, owned the farm and had the license to import reptiles.

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50 comments
Angelapinkston
Angelapinkston

How does this guy secure those trailor pods full of snakes when a hurricane hits? I live on thr coast and that worries me !

Biggie
Biggie

Tom is nothing other than a career criminal.

Livinlife34
Livinlife34

Very sorry for the loss. Is Tom still in business ? He he currently selling reptiles ? If so would like to purchase a hybrid blue iguana from him. Thanks. John  

Croc Mike
Croc Mike

 Yes, Tom is still running Bruce's business. Its funny how that worked out. Tom got all his stuff and he got...nothing.

swampgal
swampgal

To the best of my knowledge, the only wound that Bruce suffered was a .357 to the chest - self inflicted. Patty's shot missed him entirely. We should all feel bad for the pain Bruce suffered while alive. It obviously was too much to bear. We should feel bad for Tom and Patty for the pain they are enduring after this tragedy - the loss of Tom's best friend (yes, Bruce was Tom's best friend) and for the cruel and ignorant comments by people who do not know and do not care to know Tom and Patty. The herp world seems to be nastier than the reputation of many of the snakes. How sad indeed... C. Gregg

turtle
turtle

Best friends make sure that there are no guns around somebody who has mental issues .Bruce had never owned guns before he moved to Miami .

REST IN PEACE BRUCE

Dumje
Dumje

WOW...I have had few business dealings with Tom...I also had a few with Bruce...but...that does not have any influence on what happend down there...I do know Bruce and Tom where the best of friends...business partners for a pretty long time...I never saw them argue about anything...never knew of any disaggrements...these 2 where pretty close...so...if the information about Bruce haveing mental issues and on medication is true...its very much possible that Bruce....really wasn't in control of himself...I feel for Tom on this issue...I would feel bad for anybody who has had to go through anything like this...I feel bad for Bruce as well...RIP Bruce...

jscrick
jscrick

Dumje, I've had dealings with both Bruce and Tom, and I agree with you.Cychura Guy, I couldn't agree more.Spencer, what you've said demonstrates a complete lack of subject knowledge. To characterize Tom as a "breeder of Rainbow Boas" is obscene. Do yourself a favor. Be quiet and listen (read) and you might learn something.All of those icons of Herpetology you've mentioned did business with Mr. Crutchfield at one time or another. How do you think they got their start? He is truly the bedrock/cornerstone/keystone to the entire movement. To disrespect him as you have only shows your ignorance. Your uninformed opinion based on popular herp culture legend and myth, and what you've read means nothing to those that know Tom Crutchfield. Joe Laszlo introduced me to Mr. Crutchfield in the 1980's. As he did introduce me to Hank Molt in the 1960's. Many consider Josef Laszlo the Father of Herpetoculture, as we know it today...as I do. Didn't see his name mentioned among your litany of saints.Spencer, your uninspiring testimony gives ample evidence of your total lack of qualification to speak to the issue.jsc

MIKEWARNER
MIKEWARNER

TOM CRUTCHFIELD IS A LIAR. I HAD PURCHASED REPTILES FROM HIM AND HE STATED THEY WERE A CERTAIN SIZE, LITTLE DID I KNOW WHEN I RECEIVED THEM NEXT DAY, THEY WERE HALF THE SIZE!! I COMPLAINED AND ASKED WHATS GOING ON, HE TOLD ME HE RAN OUT OF THOSE SIZES SO HE REPLACED THEM 2 SMALLER ONES. WTF

BRUCE DID NOT SUICIDE, HE DIED OF THE WOUND INFLICTED BY TOMMYS FIRED SHOT. GET THE FACTS STRAIGHT. RIP BRUCE, HOPE JUSTICE WILL TAKE ITS TOLL.

jscrick
jscrick

That's the best case for LIBELOUS SLANDER I've ever seen. How about we wait for a Coroner's report before getting all carried away.Your comment just above that wasn't so special either, MIKE WARNER. Very very late on a Friday night. Hmmm?jsc

spencer
spencer

He farms Iguanas but he does breed rainbow boas. Just like fluker. Only they produced albinos along time ago. Tom just got the hets on breeding loan and stuck them in crappy outside cages. There Iguanas! They got loose and are alll over south florida. Other than the Rainbows no hes not a breeder. Hes a buy and sell other peoples "animaler". Everything he says he is going to breed is on Kingsnake two months later. He really sucks at breeding reptiles Im not saying you but 99% of people that like him dont even know him. He says and you follow and for nothing to do with being good, you just follow. All the people that know him dont think anything of him. He does not even come close to being the all time HERPER. Just the all time JOKER!!!!

cychlura guy
cychlura guy

I think you are letting your dislike for someones business practices and personality influence your opinion on there achievements. You are applying today’s specialized standards of the term "breeder" to someone who remains old school and has more diversified herp interests. I know many of the people you mentioned as "real breeders “and have a lot of respect for them but most of them are pretty specialized breeders. They make it on your list because they have been around a long time and they are all nice. I also believe Bert was just a farmer of lizards by your standards because most of his animals were in outdoor enclosures. And Bob would be a farmer of colubreds because in san Diego you only need to put them in a cage and feed them and the natural weather patterns will cause them to breed. Your comments on farming are way off. Breeding leopard geckos and bearded dragons in a tank is alot easier then "farming" iguanas and many "real breeders" breed lots of them. I thought you would name breeders with more diverse breeding portfolios and herp interests like Jeff Gee, Ron Huffaker, Greg and Ramone,the guys from east bay vivarium, Ken Foose, even Kevin Mccurley has way more interests than just ball pythons. All these guys love, breed and keep turtles and torts, snakes of all types, lizards of all types, amphibians, fish and even birds but because they don't focus all their energy in one sector of the hobby they seem less exciting. I find it far more interesting to talk to Kevin about other animals then just the same ole lame discussion about ball pythons. You see this at Daytona some people only go to the turtle talks or the cam talks or the certain type of snake talks and then there is a small group of people who have a hard time deciding which talks to go to because they have a very diverse collection and interests.I can guarantee you Tom has bred more variety of herps then most of the people on your list and they would all agree just not in the same quantities plus it was done long before most people were commonly breeding them. Crocs, diamond pythons, womas, black heads, several west indian boas, radiateds, south african leopard torts, several cyclura, Gilas and of course some of the common stuff everyone and there brother breeds. I have never had any business dealings with Tom so I can't nor will I try to defend him there. He's sometimes difficult for people to get along with on a personal level because most peoples interests are not diverse enough and are not that interesting for him. Tom is a colorful caracter and way more intersting to talk to then most of the "specialized breeders" out there.

spencer
spencer

I agree, someone who only does one thing is speacialist. Like I said he farms Iguanas and breeds Rainbow Boas. As far as the past he is 99% full of it. He can say he bred whatever he wants but thats only going to be true 1% of the time. Real breeders, the late Bert Langerwerf , the Barkers, Bob Clark, Bob Applegate, Tony Nicoli, the late Lloyd Lemke, Bob Mailloux, ect. Theres plenty of people that have travled and done way more than he has with herps. Im not saying that he has never done anything at all. Im saying that he has made most of it out to be way more than it ever was. Just like now. One story, and you will follow. He has burned more bridges than anyone in this hobby and some one else always goes down for him so he can step out the HERO. I feel bad for the uninformed. You could be next.

cychlura guy
cychlura guy

Really,I don't know all he breeds now but I do know he breeds several types of cyclura, ctenosaurs, some west indian boas, I would not consider it farming iguanas just because they are kept in out door enclosures. There is more to it then just putting them together outside to get babys. By that concept zoos don't breed many animals because they are outside. So are you a breeder if you only produce one type of animal like ball pythons? How many do you have to produce a year to be a "breeder" 10 OR 1000? I do know for a fact that in the past he has "bred" more diversity or reptiles than 99.99% of the "breeders" out there now, Does that count or is it only what you do today that counts?Most "breeders" today are very specialized and only breed a very limited variety of animals. I personaly have less respect for people who breed just tortioses, or ball pythons, or boas, or frogs, or chameleons, or bearded dragons and know absolutely nothing about other species, which is a large segment of the "breeders" out there today. If you produce 10,000 bearded dragons a year you are not a reptile breeder you are a Bearded dragon breeder.Who do you consider "breeders"? Maybe we can get some perspective.

Rccritters
Rccritters

Tom has always been a very caring person ready to stop what he is doing and help anyone with questions regaurding their reptiles. I just goes to show how life is short, and that bad things happen to good people. Are prayers and thoughts are with him and his family.

Bubbara57
Bubbara57

Rccritters, To whom are you referring to? Because I know you're not referring to Tom Crutchfield. For those of us that have known him since his beginning's, know for a fact, that since his start, he has always been self righteous, & self serving, and would screw his own family, if given the chance. So for you, or any one else to say he has always been a caring person, you don't have a clue who the real dirt bag is that your talking about.

Posterid, Don't think for a moment that this has anything to do with a grudge, or anything else other than what it is, FACTS. Do your homework, because if you think for a moment that he's mourning, your wrong, the only thoughts he's having is trying to figure out how to end up with everything of Bruce's.

REST IN PEACE Bruce.

spencer
spencer

I would not call sticking Iguanas in outside cages and feeding them being a "BREEDER".

MIKEWARNER
MIKEWARNER

TOM CRUTCHFIELD IS A LIAR. I HAD PURCHASED REPTILES FROM HIM AND HE STATED THEY WERE A CERTAIN SIZE, LITTLE DID I KNOW WHEN I RECEIVED THEM NEXT DAY, THEY WERE HALF THE SIZE!! I COMPLAINED AND ASKED WHATS GOING ON, HE TOLD ME HE RAN OUT OF THOSE SIZES SO HE REPLACED THEM 2 SMALLER ONES. WTF

BRUCE DID NOT SUICIDE, HE DIED OF THE WOUND INFLICTED BY TOMMYS FIRED SHOT. GET THE FACTS STRAIGHT. RIP BRUCE, HOPE JUSTICE WILL TAKE ITS TOLL.

cychlura guy
cychlura guy

so spencer you don't consider Tom a reptile breeder?

spencer
spencer

Also, he was not even the first person to produce albino Iguana's. They were produced many years before he ever bought the hets that someone else produced and raised. I would not call his long history anything other than him failing at everything until the next poor sucker comes along.

Posterid
Posterid

Wow....all the negativity. A man is dead, his BF/partner is mourning the loss and all some people want to do is pile on. I sense some serous personal grudges getting in the way of respect for the situation.

karmasabitch
karmasabitch

I also have known both men and it indeed is a tragedy in the reptile world. I worked for crutchfield and the man is a crook with a capital C. Im willing to bet that Tom was trying to rip Bruce off or do something illegal and blame Bruce. I dont believe Tom can ever get a license to import anymore since his conviction for smuggling years ago hence the partnership. Im sorry to hear Bruce is no longer with us but if Tom did something to him he should be prosecuted and stay in prison this time. Miami jails are no joke either.

shady
shady

don't you love how the story Tom and Patty are circulating neglects the fact that one of them shot Bruce in the leg

NadiNY
NadiNY

Moron, no one shot Bruce in the leg idiot, Bruce had a mental breakdown! Shot at them, and nevertheless they love and miss him dearly! There is no blood anywhere in the house, except where he took his own life! This is a tragedy not meant to be drudged up by half witted storytellers who have no idea what went down. Your like an asshole with lips! You must've been stealing from Tom naming yourself Karmasabitch...punkin'out and can't even have the balls to put up your name. Bruce had a mental breakdown and went off his meds...so before you crucify someone unjustly...check your facts and stop making bullshit assumptions!-NadiNY

karmasabitch
karmasabitch

and you must be tom himself defending his indefenceable position. toms the thief i never stole anything from him but i know at least two people he owes hundreds of thousands of dollars to for the illegal animals he smuggled into the country and (ugh) forgot to pay them. i guess that makes tom a victim huh. justice for those who can afford it. ask the upstanding citizen about his wife penny he dumped after she stood by him for the ten years he spent in prison. or how about why he was there, hmm money laundering smuggling cites 1 animals into the country to feed the poor starving crutchfield children. thats a frickin laugh.. and another thing checkYOUR information bitch its public record anyone can look it up

he was with bruce because he cant get his own import license..dont get me wrong his kids are great...get a life stop talking to try n make yourself feel smarter, it aint workin hun

spencer
spencer

NadiNy, you are like all the other Lemming's on his facebook. You follow without a thought of your own. Everyone there defends Tom with the very defense he installed in your uninformed minds. "Mental breakdown", "off his meds", "been crazy for awhile" seems Tom and his disciples are out to smear Bruce's name. Do you think Bruce would like to have that info spread all over the world. They are such good friends and family to him and yet this is what they say about him. Tom is a leech thats feeds off people that worship him and dont have the mental capacity to understand whats really going on. I wonder who in their right mind would want to do buisness with him now. Drasel, owns the albinos and Bruce owned the rest what the hell did Tom do except start another buisness that is sure to fail just like the rest? Food for the thoughtless...

Bubbara57
Bubbara57

Of course they love & miss Bruce dearly, now Tommy has to find another SUCKER, oh, I mean, sugar daddy. You the all knowing, should know that. You the all knowing, should also know, that's the only way he's ever made it. Starting in 1980 with the Storm brothers, then onto the Dietleins, Constentine's, Cowlishaw, Drasel's, and last, but not least, Bruce. Lets not forget, the car Tommy drives, was also purchased by Dr. Drasel for the wonderful, compassionate, loving Tommy.

Get your facts straight, before you go dribbling, about the guy you know nothing about.

Joey1957
Joey1957

The minute I heard about a shooting at Crutchfield's three words came to mind "another satisfied customer" Tom has his endearing moments but for the most part he's a swindler and he's as shady as the east side of a mountain at sunset. I can certainly see how he could bring this sort of thing onto himself. Bruce wasn't the most grounded guy after his divorce. Tom took full advantage of that fact and obviously went a little too far with the financial and property liberties. Happens all the time but usually it is between 20 year old crack dealers not geriatric reptile smugglers. The feds will be going through that collection with a fine tooth comb, I doubt we'll see much "Tom Crutchfield" advertising after the indictments start rolling in. Oh well, I guess he could always run south of the border.

Alan Rigerman
Alan Rigerman

It's amazing that so many people have comments. Why are they afraid to identify themselves.I have known Crutchfield for 25+ years. I cannot say anything REALLY bad. Bought a few animals...fair prices, good animals. BUT...we had a falling out. Personal. Different views regarding publicity. That said..,.I met Bruce together with Michael Enriquez some years ago when we bought some . sulcata (hugh), met Bruce and doubled money. At the time Bruce was one of the biggest, if not the biggest sulcatta breeder in the country.....100's of thousands of babies sold. Divorce, trajedy for Bruce. She took incredible $$$$$. I BELIEVE Bruce became depressed. Somehow he and Crutchfield got together. It is quite possible that Crutchfield's friendship and shoulder might have given him new life. Here is the Major But!What happened... there are stories circulating all over: Instead of circulating more of them. I just don't know. Bruce should rest in peace.

NadiNY
NadiNY

Alan, thanks because yours is the only true comment I have read thus far. Tom is a straight shooter and both he and Patty are in pieces. There is nothing to describe the pain and suffering that comes along with the loss of losing someone to suicide, and to see such ignorant vindictive comments left at a time such as this because of some past grudges is unbelievable to me! People are human and have feelings, regardless of whatever issues he may have with anyone in the past...it truly has nothing to do with what transpired. For those who choose to use this horrible event as a punchline or a jab...you may want to take a good look at what ails you because hatred is like a Cancer & just keeps eating away at you until there is nothing left...and no one wins. RIP Bruce and till the very last day they were still joking and laughing this was truly out of the blue, unpredictable, unprecedented action that no one, not even Bruce saw coming. Please leave Tom & Patty alone to grieve in peace and if you have nothing nice to say...don't say anything AT ALL!!!!!!

Thanks for being real,Nadi & JP

spencer
spencer

Why should nothing bad be said about Tom; he is not the victim here. I'm sick of people who bought a snake from Tom ten years ago vouch for what a great guy he is. Nobody is saying anything bad about Bruce. Feel bad for Bruce not Tom. From Patty's posts on Facebook she stated that Bruce has suffered from mental illness for a while. There was nothing "out of the blue" about it. Tom apparently knew of Bruce's mental state and still did something to provoke him to allegedly pull a gun out. Nadi, you've only heard one side of a two part story. You sure are confident about the story you were fed because Tom has never lied before, right? You're just another know-nothing follower..

cychlura guy
cychlura guy

Bubba,I am fine with your opinion about Toms business dealings many people don't like tom I was commenting about your comments about his lack of herp knowledge that's all.

Bubbara57
Bubbara57

cychurla guy I stand corrected. Embarrassed I'm not. I don't hate anyone for any reason, and as far as reality, I live in the real world, regardless how you feel about me, doesn't change the fact that tommy is most knowledgeable when it comes to talking people into becoming his partner in business, then milking them dry, only to move on to the next partner, I mean victim. I could go on for days, but the reality of this is; no matter what you or I think, say, feel, or believe, neither of us are going to change each others minds, and it doesn't change the facts that tommy has always been, and will always be a conniving dirt bag.

REST IN PEACE Bruce

cychlura guy
cychlura guy

Bubba,I hate to embarrass you but the spelling cychlura is the species name of the Androse, Exuma, and Allans cay iguanas. Notice the lowercase “c”. I think you hate Tom so much that you can’t admit reality. Believe me I am not a mindless blind pin head and I am not defending Tom You are just wrong in your comparisons. Just because you don’t like someone’s personality or the way they do business or boast about themselves but that does not mean you can say they are not knowledgeable when they have a long history in the hobby that proves otherwise.

Bubbara57
Bubbara57

cychlura guy was it tommy the know all herpetologist that taught you to spell Cyclura, forgive me I meant cychlura, what do I know.I've come to the conclusion, after reading the posts here, and all the other posts around the internet, that everyone defending and sticking up for tommy are total mindless, blind pinheads. I'll continue to pray you all, will find the truth.

REST IN PEACE Bruce

cychlura guy
cychlura guy

Bubba,To say tom is not the” real deal” herper is ignorant. You are comparing Tom to people who are very knowledgeable in certain disciplines of herpitaculture but have limited knowledge in others. Few people in todays specialized herp community have the diversity of knowledge that Tom has. Collecting, breeding, care, importation – crocs, venomous, snakes, turtles, torts, west Indian boas, boas and pythons, iguanids of all types. You may hate the guy or think he is an a$$ but you can’t deny he is one of the most knowledgeable overall herpers out there. I also think all of the people you mentioned would consider Tom one of the pioneers as would most honest “real deal” herpers.

FL Herper
FL Herper

Most knowledgeable herper?!?! That idiot Crutchfield just told some lady on facebook that the snakes she is finding around her farm in Jackson County, FL "definitely are not Copperheads" because Copperheads don't occur in Jackson County, FL. The fact is that they are well documented from this county (one of the few they are known from in the state), something that an "expert" would know. He just put that lady at potential risk of injury because he is a complete moron that doesn't know jack.

Bubbara57
Bubbara57

Forgive my inept ability to spell & think at the same time, and to know the difference.

REST IN PEACE Bruce

Bubbara57
Bubbara57

Bob I guess the older we get, the more we forget. It is what it is, why any one would feel for tommy is beyond reason, and it wasn't his house that was blown to smithereens, it's Bruce's, God Rest His Soul. If you're going to post anything, anywhere lets post the TRUTH. The truth is a lot easier, than all the good BS running around about the so called reptile guru tom, who has left a trail of lies, & deceit, everywhere he's been since his beginnings. The most knowledgeable herper in the world, surely you jest. Have we forgotten, Robert Sprackland, Peter Pitchard, Bill Lamar, Ray Ashton, Dave & Tracy Barker, Louie Porras, and lets not forget the likes of the real pioneers Wilfred T. Neal, Raymond Ditmars, Carl Kauffeld, and Dr. Bernard Bechtel just to mention a few. So lets not compare tommy to the real deal herpers of our times, as these are some of the most knowledgeable herpetologists of our time, and tommy wouldn't make a pimple on any one of their butt's. Enough said.

REST IN PIECE Bruce.

spencer
spencer

Gator, Bruces house was destroyed. Once again someone talking bad about Bruce. I dont think some people understand what respect means...

Gator
Gator

I have known Tom since 1972 and purchased many reptiles from him and sold them to him. He worked for me and we raised some rare reptiles together. I was with him and Patty yesterday, and trust me, he is more broken up about Bruce's death than any of you could know. They were best friends as well as business partners. There was no fued just a poor deranged guy that had a lot of troubles decided it just wasn't worth it anymore. Anyone bad moluthing Tom doesn't know him. And for the record Tom is undoubtedly the most knowledgeable herper in the world so I would suggest a lot of jealousy is involved in the negativity. And if you have no sympathy for Tom, you should see what the swat team did to his home. Blew it to smithereens. Bob Cowlishaw

Bubbara57
Bubbara57

Not only do I agree, Spencer, is 100% correct.

NadiNY
NadiNY

Your the know nothing buddy, Tom never knew the extent of his mental ailments, you really think anything you could say warrants a person the right to pull out a gun! Your nutts! Obviously that moment (all though too late ) is what illustrated the extent of his mental illness ...and then have to then fend off Hyenas like you for the next few months to try & not go even more crazy! So who's the no nothing...there are witnesses! Bruce spoke to the police and his best friend before he took his life! Of course everyone feels bad for Bruce...but why are people like you using this horrible tragedy to bash Tom? Sick and twisted misused opportunities...you could use a different time and venue if you had any class...

FloridaSleazeChaser
FloridaSleazeChaser

It's Miami-Dade. Live and conduct field work all over Florida as I have for so many years and you realize that this area is not part of state as most know it. It's not a sad day for herpetology...don't confuse the discipline with the hobby. It just appears to be another tragedy between business partners.

Ray Wylie Hubbard
Ray Wylie Hubbard

Snake Farm – it just sounds nastySnake Farm – well it pretty much isSnake Farm – it's a reptile houseSnake Farm – Uuuggghhhhh......

Jrabbine
Jrabbine

It is a sad day for those of us who understand the herpetology world :(

richard r
richard r

It was bound to happen someday considering how many people Crutchfield has ripped off over the past 30 years.

NadiNY
NadiNY

You make no sense and that is such an ignorant thing to say after someone just committed suicide due to mental ailments. I am very close to Tom and Patty and they so distraught, people like you and your ignorant comments are not needed and just reveal the idiot you truly are.

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