The 31-year-old passenger whose plunge from the cruise ship Oasis of the Seas was caught on cellphone videos had threatened to jump overboard seconds before he ran toward the balcony of his stateroom, investigators said Monday.

Bernardo Garcia Teixeira leaped from his seventh-floor stateroom at 3:57 a.m. Friday and landed on the metal support of a lifeboat two stories below, according to Broward Sheriff's Office homicide detectives.

As Garcia Teixeira dangled from the support, at least two passengers recorded cellphone videos that appear to show a crew member attempting to grab onto him.

Garcia Teixeira eventually lost his grip and fell into the sea, approximately 17 miles east of the Turks and Caicos Islands. His body has not been found.

A filmmaker who lived in Manhattan, Garcia Teixeira was on the weeklong Caribbean cruise with his partner, Erik Elbaz, 34.

On Sunday, Miami attorney Michael Winkleman, who represents Elbaz, identified Garcia Teixeira as Bernardo Elbaz, Erik Elbaz's husband.

The incident aboard the Royal Caribbean Cruise Ltd. vessel began when the ship's security staff responded to the couple's cabin because of a domestic disturbance between the two men, authorities said.

"Upon arriving, security personnel found evidence of a physical altercation in the couple's room," the Sheriff's Office said in a news release.

"Homicide detectives reviewed video evidence of the couple's interactions with the ship's security in which the victim can be heard declaring that he was planning to jump overboard," the Sheriff's Office said. "In the recording, Garcia Teixeira can be seen running toward the balcony alone.

"The video also shows Elbaz run after Garcia Teixeira, followed by the ship's security staff.

"Garcia Teixeira clung to the lifeboat support as staff members tried to rescue him. He fell into the water moments later," the Sheriff's Office said.

Winkleman said the video evidence that the Sheriff's Office is reviewing was recorded inside the stateroom by Elbaz and by Garcia Teixeira, who turned his recorder on and set it down when security came into the room.

According to Winkleman, those videos record Garcia Teixeira pointing to security officers and declaring, "Because of them, I am throwing myself over."

In a news conference Monday afternoon, Winkleman said, "We dispute that he jumped. How [the fall] occurred is still to be determined.

"It is surprising how inaccurate and how incomplete the BSO statement is," said Winkleman. "It is clear that this was not a domestic dispute, but a direct result of repeated gay comments."

Gina Carter, a Sheriff's Office spokeswoman, said the agency would not release any video footage of events before or after Garcia Teixeira went overboard.

In a updated statement issued about noon Monday, Royal Caribbean officials defended the crew's efforts to pull Garcia Teixeira to safety as he clung to the lifeboat support.

"Our officers responded professionally and appropriately to the incident in the stateroom," the statement said. "In addition, other security officers and crew risked their own lives in an attempt to rescue the guest from the lifeboat rigging where he had fallen."

Winkleman said the ship's staff did not do enough to help Garcia Teixeira. "Why not give him a life vest, assist him? Why didn't they stop the ship?" he said.

Royal Caribbean officials said security staff went to the couple's stateroom in response "to reports of a domestic dispute loud enough to be heard from several staterooms away.

"The room was in a state of disarray, and both lamps in the room had been broken. Our officers interviewed the guests separately about their dispute, as is standard procedure," according to the company statement. "The officers were not in the room when the guest chose to jump off his balcony."

On Sunday, Winkleman said Garcia Teixeira was "definitely inebriated, crying, swearing at crew members who may have followed him. He was so angry he threw a lamp, a chair."

Elbaz, speaking at the Monday news conference, said there was no domestic dispute, and denied that Garcia Teixeira was suicidal.

Both he and Garcia Teixeira had been "verbally abused" during the cruise by crew members using gay slurs, Elbaz said. When Garcia Teixeira returned to the cabin after being at the bar early Friday, he was angry over something else said to him, Elbaz said.

"He was inconsolable," said Elbaz, a Brooklyn native who works as a technology manager.

The two married in August 2014. "He was a pure, pure soul," Elbaz said. "He was a brilliant prodigy filmmaker. Bernardo did not need to die."

Bound for Port Everglades, the ship stopped and began rescue efforts after Garcia Teixeira went overboard. The Coast Guard continued those efforts. The hunt covered 931 square nautical miles before being suspended, Coast Guard officials said.

 


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