When Peter Antonacci was stricken in governor’s office he lay in hallway 24 minutes before anyone noticed

Florida’s Office of Election Crimes and Security DIrector Peter Antonacci, with Gov. Ron DeSantis and Attorney General Ashley Moody, announcing arrests at the Broward County Courthouse on Aug. 18, 2022.

By Dan Christensen,

Peter Antonacci, Gov. Ron DeSantis’s handpicked choice last year to lead the state’s controversial new elections fraud office, collapsed and died in a hallway in the governor’s office moments after “abruptly” leaving a contentious meeting on Sept. 23, 2022.

That Antonacci, 74, was stricken in the governor’s office was kept secret at the time. Instead, authorities only said he died while at work in the Capitol building, of which the governor’s office is a part.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement records released to Florida Bulldog also say Antonacci lay dead or dying on the hallway floor of the governor’s office for more than 20 minutes before anyone apparently noticed and came to his aid. More precisely, 24 minutes, in a hallway under real time video-only surveillance.

By the time a Capitol police officer arrived a minute or two later and hooked the pulseless Antonacci up to an automated external defibrillator (AED), the machine that can administer a life-saving electrical shock to victims of sudden cardiac arrest assessed Antonacci and advised that “no shock” was needed.

Plaza level in the Florida Capitol Building. The precise location of the conference room and the hallway where Peter Antonacci collapsed have not been made public. Image: United Way of Florida

The meeting Antonacci attended that day was in a conference room in the governor’s office. An FDLE report says the attendees were Secretary of State James “Cord” Byrd, his general counsel Bradley McVay, FDLE Commissioner Mark Glass, FDLE Chief of Staff Shane Desguin, FDLE director of executive investigations Scott McInerney, Antonacci’s deputy Scott Strauss and two men and three women tagged only as “unidentified.” Elsewhere, however, one attendee is identified as FDLE general counsel Ryan Newman.

Secretary of State James “Cord” Byrd.

The FDLE reports, which you read here, say that cameras in the meeting room and the hallway captured video of what happened, but no audio. Investigating FDLE Agent Larry Shallar watched the video. “At approximately 1:46 p.m., Mr. Antonacci is observed standing up and walking out of the conference room [WORDS REDACTED],” his report says. “Upon exiting the conference room, Mr. Antonacci is observed staggering as he moved forward until he collapsed to the floor. Mr. Antonacci did not appear to move once he collapsed to the floor.”

The meeting’s agenda and what was discussed are not mentioned in the five reports. DeSantis, with the Legislature’s approval, established the Office of Election Crimes and Security to maintain “election integrity” in the wake of ex-President Donald Trump’s drumbeat of unsupported claims that his 2020 loss to President Joe Biden was the result of voter fraud.


“At approximately 2:10 p.m. FDLE Commissioner Mark Glass is observed responding to Mr. Antonacci on the floor and initiated life saving measures (CPR; cardiopulmonary resuscitation) with the assistance of FDLE Chief of Staff Shane Desguin. At approximately 2:11 p.m. FDLE Capitol Police is observed responding to Mr. Antonacci with the AED (automated external defibrillator) and assisting with life saving measures until Leon County Emergency Medical Services arrived,” Shallar’s report says.

Florida Bulldog requested the FDLE’s public records in February after receiving a tip that Antonacci had died in the governor’s office following an argument with DeSantis. The FDLE reports, however, make no mention of DeSantis being present.

glass antonacci
FDLE Commissioner Mark Glass

Detailed requests for public records about the meeting were also sent to Secretary of State James “Cord” Byrd, who attended the meeting and oversees the Office of Election Crimes and Security, and the governor’s Office of Open Government in October have yet to draw a substantive response.

The FDLE released 17 redacted pages. To justify the redactions, FDLE Assistant General Counsel Janine Robinson cited state laws that exempt from disclosure certain security and fire safety information, as well as the names of family of exempt personnel. The context of the redactions, however, did not plainly show how they qualified for exemptions. The redacted information appeared mostly to refer to the spot where Antonacci collapsed.

Security cameras video reviewed by investigating FDLE agents, and still photographs they took at the scene, were completely withheld. Robinson said they would not be made public because they are subject to the same security and fire safety exemption, or the privacy provisions of the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA).


Antonacci, who served as Broward’s Supervisor of Elections from 2018-2020, had a reputation as as political “Mr. Fix-It.” He was appointed by DeSantis in July 2022 as the state’s first director of the Office of Election Crimes and Security. Before that, he’d handled a range of political assignments under Republican and Democratic administrations. His peripatetic career included job titles like statewide prosecutor, deputy attorney general, CEO of Enterprise Florida, general counsel to Gov. Rick Scott, Palm Beach state attorney, executive director of the South Florida Water Management District and chief judge of the Division of Administrative Hearings.

While the FDLE reports include such mundane observations as how Antonacci was dressed –
“a sky blue shirt, dark blue dress coat, and gray dress pants” – they stand out for what’s missing: the identities of everyone attending the meeting and any inquiry as to why Antonacci lay undiscovered on the hallway floor for so long.

The immediate question: Could Antonacci have been saved by quicker action?

“Commissioner Glass stated they were talking there for approximately a minute or so and General Counsel Newman started to depart when he looked down the hallway toward the doorway going into the [WORDS REDACTED]. Commissioner Glass stated when looking down the hallway he observed what appeared to be dark slacks and black shoes laying on the ground toes face down…He stated he observed from the hip back and he looked at General Counsel Newman asking if that was Mr. Antonacci.” The two men then ran over to Antonacci, rolled him over on his left side “putting him in a breathing position to allow him to get maximum air” before rolling him on his back and starting chest compressions.

FDLE general counsel Ryan Newman

In an interview with FDLE investigators that day, FDLE Commissioner Mark Glass told how about 25 minutes after Antonacci departed the room he stepped into the hallway to talk with his general counsel, Ryan Newman.

When Antonacci fell he hit his forehead head on the corner of a door or a doorknob. There as a small, bleeding cut. Glass said Antonacci’s face “was purple and blue.” Glass checked for a pulse and found none, the report says.


Glass yelled twice for Chief of Staff Desguin. Desguin told investigators that once he heard Glass “he knew at that point something was wrong based on Commissioner Glass’ tone of voice and due to him hearing a thud at some point.”

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FDLE Chief of Staff Shane Desguin

At first, the report says, Desguin “advised everyone to stay in the room because he didn’t know if Commissioner Glass was hurt or someone had breached the Governor’s Office.” He then “started to remove his duty firearm from its holster, but returned his duty firearm to its holster when he exited the door and observed Commissioner Glass on his knees over Mr. Antonacci.”

Desguin said his boss instructed him to “get 911” and an AED machine. He left the hallway and summoned help. Desguin told investigators: “The AED was applied and activated and advised it could not produce a shock.” Desguin and Glass rotated chest compressions for six to eight minutes, and initiated use of an “Ambu Bag,” or artificial manual breathing unit, until EMS arrived.

“Desguin stated during the meeting Mr. Antonacci had moments of being frustrated with parts of the meeting or the way the meeting was going,” the report says. But Desguin added that he observed no “signs of Mr. Antonacci having a medical issue.”

FDLE Director Scott McInerney told a similar story, saying an “agitated” Antonacci had “abruptly” risen from his seat and walked out. Agents, however, did not appear to bore down on the question as to why Antonacci became upset.

Like Desguin, McInerney unholstered his weapon after Glass call out, thinking there was possibly an active shooter.

“Director McInerney stated the room had approximately 10 to 15 people in it and they were giving them directions to stay back. (He) stated some of the individuals began to get under the conference room table.”


The FDLE reports caution that the report’s references to the statements of Glass, Desguin and McInerney were synopses. The FDLE did not release either transcripts or audio recordings of their interviews and gave no reason for that omission.

Antonacci was transported to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital where, at 2:47 p.m., he was pronounced dead by an emergency room physician identified in the report as Dr. Escobar.

The report says that Antonacci’s widow, Tallahassee lawyer Anne Longman, and his primary physician, Dr. Stacia Groll, stated that Antonacci “had a long history of heart disease and cardiac issues that resulted in several surgeries. Based on this medical history, Dr. Groll was willing and did sign off on the death certificate.”

Still, a Florida medical examiner who spoke with Florida Bulldog said that given the circumstances it was unusual that no autopsy was performed.

“I’m wondering why he didn’t go through the medical examiner’s office seeing that he died in the governor’s office. Wouldn’t they want to do that, just to CYA? I mean, gosh, [Gov. Lawton] Chiles died at the executive mansion and he went through the medical examiner’s office.”

Chiles died Dec. 12, 1998 after suffering a heart arrythmia, apparently while exercising.

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Latest comments

  • Bohemian Grove

  • Pathetic on a number of levels

  • Dan:
    I take issue with your fourth paragraph that says:

    “assessed Antonacci and advised that “no shock” was needed.”

    The FDLE report says:

    “Chief of Staff Desguin stated they continued chest compressions until Capitol Police arrived with an AED. Chief of Staff Desguin stated the AED was applied and activated and advised it could not produce a shock.”

    That is different from “‘no shock’ was needed.” Is it that, or the AED machine didn’t properly function?

    The newspaper reporting of Antonacci’s death has:

    “Vancore says Antonacci died of a heart attack while at work.” Vancore is Steve Vancore, a friend of Antonacci, quoted in the Sun Sentinel on September 24, 2022. That’s all there is. The Tampa Bay Times reported that “The governor’s office did not identify the cause of Antonacci’s death.”

    On September 21, 2023, the Sun Sentinel quoted Antonacci in a story about the state election crimes office:

    “Most that comes my way has zany burger all over it.” The New York Times had quoted that from an email he wrote in 2022 to an unidentified local prosecutor’s office. The Times got the email through a public records request. The Sun Sentinel in its story quoted others saying similar things.

    The Leon County medical examiner didn’t do an autopsy? What does its file say? Did they receive the body? What does the state Medical Examiners Commission say? (It’s an agency of the FDLE).

    Thank you, Dan, for finding and publishing this story.

  • Vaccinated?

  • Nice story. What is the point? Guy dies at work who had a history of medical issues. Very sad. Nothing more. We are not in the Roman Empire anymore. Palace intrigue has become the past.

  • RIP Mr. Antonacci. An honerable public servant. Prayers for his Family. On a side note: FDLE has a protocol on how to handle emergencies, It appears that they failed to follow their own protocol which gives the perception of.
    A cover up. I hope and pray it’s not the case.
    Retired Deputy Scot Peterson deserved the same level of trust.

  • Someone, somewhere, is surely blaming this on the Clintons.

  • Karma. Mess with democracy. Pay a price. No tears shed here.

  • To “SP” especially: The “Story” are the players and situations, “DeSantis campaign”, Mr. Antonacci, a LONG time and well-respected political operative among other background, the emotional disputes about campaign issues right before the heart attack, the fact that no one noticed Mr. Antonnacci falling and fallen for a while,, and his death.

  • Phyllis, they knew he fell. They heard the thump but did not render aide because they feared the office had been breached. What a bunch of pansies.

  • The question is: what the situation precipitated by an argument with the governor? And: Did the governor do anything to inhibit anyone else from leaving the meeting?

  • “AEDs, like all defibrillators, are not designed to shock asystole (‘flat line’ patterns) as this will not have a positive clinical outcome. The asystolic patient only has a chance of survival if, through a combination of CPR and cardiac stimulant drugs,”

  • Nice job, Florida Bulldog. Thanks for pursuing this story & for detailing the alarming omissions & so-called exemptions from public record laws. “Unidentified” meeting attendees? Inexcusable. Most cops I know would call them WITNESSES. (Makes me wonder if Casey DeSantis was one of them.)
    This was an entirely insufficient investigation, regardless of the man’s medical history.
    As a local news reporter & editor in Florida for 25 years, I used to applaud the state’s broad public record laws that ensured access to all sorts of emails, meeting minutes, phone records, travel & appointment schedules, etc., with minimal bureaucratic hoop-jumping.
    Sadly, that’s no longer the case. The current administration snarls with paranoid resentment at public record requests, the press & the public in general.
    I look forward to the day the dam breaks & floods Tallahassee with details of deplorable conduct in pursuit of political gain & personal enrichment.
    That day will surely come, because
    good people don’t stay silent forever.
    And good leaders don’t rely on “scared straight” as a management strategy.

  • My issue is really not noticing him or even hearing the thump and not investigating. I can see that happening if I close my eyes and squint. (Figure of speech). What I cannot understand is all the redacted comments about a meeting that was about elections. I do not believe the
    “state laws that exempt from disclosure certain security and fire safety information, as well as the names of the family of exempt personnel” line they fed the reporter.
    All 11 people in the meeting were not family of exempt personnel. How could saying what conference room they were meeting in or what door he hit his head on hurt security? That makes no sense. Why the secrecy? Makes things look fishy especially since no autopsy was done.

  • Really want to work for Death’Sentance ?
    Really want to be president Dis’Graceful

  • This sad event obviously obfuscated to distance DeSantis from the possibility that Mr Antonacci’s demise may have been triggered by his well known penchant for raging at underlings.
    Proving, once again, that pols who consider themselves as “Rulers”, not Public Servants, are subject to professional journalistic investigation, i.e., Florida Bulldog.
    So – sorry, Ronnie, our State (and USA) may be under stress from the likes of YOU, but righteousness still stands.

  • 406.11 FSA says it is the duty of any person in the district to report a death as enumerated in 406.12 FSA to the medical examiner forthwith. Of the items enumerated, sudden when in apparent good health might have required such notification, but with a physician willing to sign the death cerificate that would not apply. Although he died on the job, the appropriate cause is “disease or injury of emplyment.. His heart disease was not from employment.
    Thus not notifying the ME seems appropriate.

  • One other matter, AED’s are programmed to “No Shock” if there is no ventricular fibrillation or other shockable rhythm. Ventricular fibrillation {V Fib) which does not pump blood and lasts less than 10 minutes. So NO SHOCK means he was clearly in V Fib starting more than 10 minutes before the paddles were supplied. Not an unusual time, even with trained personnel.

  • Antonacci spent the bulk of his career being the default interim placeholding stooge whom the Republicans would use to occupy a vacant office while waiting for an election. Usually in Democratic counties where a Republican would probably never win an election.

    His most notable achievement was filing a JQC complaint against Judge Barry Cohen because Judge Cohen dared speak openly about racial inequity in the justice system.

    The circumstances of his death demonstrated just how much his bosses valued him. He died a true pawn and flunky to the end.

  • DeSantis and his follows only defend life before it’s born.

  • Let’s all calm down and subscribe to the fractured fairytale conjured up by multiple legal councils in the room,
    FDLE functionaries, five (5) unidentified persons, armed security personnel, present to advise the Governor of the State of Florida (a Presidential Candidate).

    We must dismiss any concerns about gaping omissions of witnesses, time lapses, multiple specific conflicts with statements and/or protocol, injury to the deceased much less the noted preceding disagreement during pointed discussion regarding “election integrity” with our Governor.

    The ghosts of consequences from lethal legal advice in Fallujah, Guantanamo steadily emerge as echos from unrequited mysteries of Jeff Epstein, Vincent Foster, Ron Brown, Martin, Bobby, John and heck even Abraham.

    “Humanity is not yet ready for either real truth, or real harmony.”
    – Will Rogers July 15, 1923

    “Personally I don’t think you can make a lawyer honest by an act of the Legislature.
    You got to work on his conscience. And his lack of conscience is what makes him a lawyer.”
    – Will Rogers March 15, 1927

  • The FDLE investigative report says: “Mr. Antonacci is observed sitting in a chair with his arms crossed away from the conference table”. THE REMAINDER OF THIS SENTENCE IS CENSORED. “At appoximately 2:46 PM, Mr. Antonacci is observed standing up and walking out of the conference room”. THE REMAINDER OF THIS SENTENCE IS CENSORED.

    What happened between him sitting at the table and leaving the room? What possibly could justify these redactions?

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