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A Key Biscayne resident upset with the leadership at Crossbridge Church allegedly assaulted the wife of an assistant pastor and her daughter in front of a local restaurant, according to police. 

Police arrested Ramesh Francis Khan Thursday, Dec. 21, as he was leaving his residence at the Towers of Key Biscayne. He faces misdemeanor assault and disorderly conduct charges. He also faces a trespassing citation for refusing to leave Crossbridge’s property Dec. 17 after being warned by police.

Khan denied any wrongdoing.

Khan’s anger with his church’s direction led to him protesting outside of Crossbridge, writing emails to the NAACP and Village officials and frequently visiting the police station this month, according to public documents and reporting by the Independent. 

Khan, 65, is unhappy that Crossbridge voted Dec. 3 to leave its current denomination and explore joining one that would allow women to serve in leadership. 

Bruna Pereira said she was with her daughter on Dec. 21 when aggressively confronted by Khan, according to the arrest report. Pereira is the wife of the Rev. Guilherme Franco, an assistant pastor at Crossbridge Church.

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“The defendant was reportedly yelling, using profanity and employing racial slurs directed at Ms. Pereira and her 6-year-old daughter,” according to the arrest affidavit by Sgt. Gustavo Padron.

“Holding a bunch of flyers and pictures, the offender invaded Ms. Pereira’s personal space, causing her and her daughter to feel unsafe and fearing potential harm.”

Two customers eating lunch in the outdoor seating area of Clasica Victoria said they witnessed the confrontation. One said Khan “had lost control of himself” and was face-to-face with Pereira, according to the police report. Another witness said he saw Khan taking photos of Pereira before confronting her. 

Officers then went to Towers of Key Biscayne where they happened to run into Khan exiting the elevators. 

After being read a Miranda warning, police said Khan told officers that he saw Pereira on the sidewalk while driving. He parked and approached her “while yelling and using profanity and further stated his intent to confront her and he was approximately 3 feet from her,” according to the arrest report.

Police concluded Khan was close enough to carry out a physical assault. Khan was arrested and transported to Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center. He was released from jail on $1,500 bail.

Police Chief Frank Sousa said Khan was issued a trespass warning on Dec. 3 when he was protesting outside of Crossbridge Church on the day membership voted to leave the Presbyterian Church in America – the denomination since the early 1970s.

Khan wrote a Dec. 6 email to the NAACP of Dade County and copied Mayor Joe Rasco, Village Manager Steve Williamson and most of the Village Council. “I was thrown out TO THE STREETS with my Jesus out of my own home church of 50 YEARS,” alleging a plot by Brazilians.  

In January, Khan loudly interrupted a sermon because he disagreed with the teaching of an elder about the Old Testament book of Joshua.

Khan also wrote a letter to Chief Frank Sousa Dec. 12, saying he would be committing “a non-violent act of peaceful civil disobedience” that following Sunday at Crossbridge Church. At one point, the letter asks Sousa not to have his officers shoot him.

When Khan followed through on his protest on Dec. 17, police cited him with trespassing with an order to appear in court on the charge.

Sousa said Khan had visited the police station regularly since the initial trespass citation to complain about Crossbridge Church. “He came to the station to voice his concerns, which every citizen has a right to do,” Sousa said

Khan, when reached for comment, said he is an upstanding citizen with no history of arrest in 50 years on Key Biscayne. He said he confronted Pereira while she was biking with her daughter on the sidewalk.

Khan said he was angry because Crossbridge did not allow him to vote on Dec. 3 but allowed Pereira to cast a ballot.

“I was denied my freedom to worship. This is a First Amendment right I’m standing up for,” he said on Sunday. “I’m going to get this case dismissed and I’m going to sue her for falsely accusing an American citizen.”

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JOHN PACENTI is the executive editor of the Key Biscayne Independent. John has worked for The Associated Press, the Palm Beach Post, Daily Business Review, and WPTV-TV.

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JOHN PACENTI is the executive editor of the Key Biscayne Independent. John has worked for The Associated Press, the Palm Beach Post, Daily Business Review, and WPTV-TV.