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Movie mogul Tyler Perry walks with Anthony Denson Jr., who claimed Thursday that former Collier deputy Steven Calkins chased him on a beach.
Movie mogul Tyler Perry walks with Anthony Denson Jr., who claimed Thursday that former Collier deputy Steven Calkins chased him on a beach. / Andrew West/news-press.com

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Anthony Denson Jr. was about 14 or 15 when he says Collier County Deputy Steven Calkins and three other deputies chased him on a beach.

Denson, now 30, made the tearful declaration during Thursday’s news conference, where Hollywood heavyweight Tyler Perry and the Rev. Al Sharpton announced they wanted action in the case of two missing men — who had last been seen with Calkins.

“Officer Calkins and three other deputies chased me down the beach, and they were gonna kill me, man,” Denson said to Perry in front of the crowd. Sharpton put his arm around the man, and a Collier sheriff’s deputy led Denson to a seat, where he leaned forward and put his head in his hands.

Denson’s friend and confidante, Michelle Williams, said the 1997 encounter had been wearing on Denson until Thursday, when he finally decided to come forward.

Williams, a civil rights investigator with an office in Naples, said he hadn’t come forward before for fear of “retaliation and reprisal.”

She wasn’t able to elaborate on what happened that night in 1997, but said she has planned a meeting with Denson and his attorney.

As to why he finally came forward, she said he was at a “breaking point.”

“When you bottle something in for so long, it bothers your mind,” she said. “People pulled me aside and told me it was eating him up.”

Denson plans to give his statement to investigators next week, Williams said.

Records show Calkins lives in a middle-class North Naples neighborhood at a home where no one answered the door Thursday morning.

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