'A sparkly silver shirt': Victims explain what triggered mass bar beating
Photo: Video by kgun9.com
CREATED Mar. 22, 2013
Reporter: Kevin Keen
PIMA COUNTY, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) - “I wanted it to stop,” a victim of a brutal bar beating told KGUN9 News. But how did the west side brawl -- caught on camera -- start in the first place? Newly released law enforcement reports show witnesses heard racial and homophobic slurs. A suspected attacker has his own story.
The surveillance video from the Outlaw Saloon in mid-February shows a visibly angry mob throwing punches, knocking victims to the floor and kicking them in the face.
Deputies later arrested ten men and women, who face aggravated assault charges.
A Pima County Sheriff's Department report recently made public gives clues as to how the beating started.
One victim -- a woman -- told investigators the group initially "…made fun of her son because he was wearing a sparkly silver shirt." "She said they began telling her son that his shirt was gay," an officer wrote.
The son told deputies he was talking with someone when "...a second individual walked up and began to antagonize him and call him…” a derogatory term for a gay person and then a derogatory term for a black person.
The son said that man was "obviously intoxicated.”
His mother gave a similar account to investigators.
The son also recalled hearing references to "white pride," according to the report.
A worker at the bar that night "heard the crowd yelling white power all night."
A witness described seeing tattoos that "appeared to be swastikas."
A detective noted a tattoo on one suspected attacker could represent "white supremacist or Aryan type gangs."
Is this case classified as a hate crime?
“'Hate crime' is not a crime in the narrower sense as to there being a statue that says, 'When someone does this or that, that is a hate crime,” said Deputy Tom Peine, who’d only speak generally about these types of crimes.
Peine explained the ten suspected attackers -- who were in court earlier this week -- are charged with aggravated assault.
Hatred, he said, is a possible motive in some criminal cases.
“It can be applied to any crime that has been committed as an aggravating factor,” Peine said, explaining that factor could influence a criminal’s sentencing upon conviction.
After their arrests, some gave investigators their side of the story. One man said a victim had yelled at them "something to the effect of being white trash."
In the report, many of the arrested expressed regret and wanted to “take responsibility for his actions.”
An investigator wrote about one man: "When I asked him why it was that he decided to turn himself in, he indicated that he watched the video approximately 1,000 times and it made him feel so small."
Many chose not to answer detectives' questions.
The report also lists the kinds of injuries the three victims had after that night. In addition to a black eye and bruising, one victim received stitches, chipped his teeth and ruptured his eardrums, according to investigators. Another victim had a mild concussion.
All ten of the suspected attackers are scheduled to appear in court next month.