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Sucker Punch: The "Big Bitch" could bite fighting concert-goer

Video: Mayhem Festival clips capture events before assault

Sucker Punch: The "Big Bitch" could bite fighting concert-goer

It was close to seven on a warm July evening in Greenwood Village, time for the suburb's more sedentary citizens to fire up their grills and televisions. But at the Comfort Dental Amphitheatre, the headbanging was just getting started.

On the main stage, Five Finger Death Punch was winding down its set with "The Bleeding," getting the 2010 Mayhem Festival fans amped for more monster acts to come, including headliners Rob Zombie and Korn.

Update: Mayhem concert assault nets seven-year prison sentence

Investigators took more photos of James Christensen's injuries three days after the concert.
Investigators took more photos of James Christensen's injuries three days after the concert.
Eric Swanson (pictured) and Jeramie Gerhardt were originally charged with a municipal violation at the 2010 Mayhem Festival; the next day the case was refiled as a felony assault.
Eric Swanson (pictured) and Jeramie Gerhardt were originally charged with a municipal violation at the 2010 Mayhem Festival; the next day the case was refiled as a felony assault.

While the sellout crowd roared, a steady trickle of less rapturous patrons made their way to the first-aid station on the west side of the complex, seeking relief from their own excesses. Too much sun. Too much booze. Too much dope. The occasional wound from a tumble while moshing or from a misunderstanding with another fan. It was the usual procession of casualties from the heaviest of all metal shows, and nothing that John Carr, a Greenwood Village police detective working the concert that night, hadn't seen before. But two new arrivals in the area quickly caught Carr's attention.

The first was a long, lean man in his mid-thirties, wearing red shorts and no shirt, bearing ample tattoos — including a swastika on his back — and a shaved head. The man struggled with the security guard who brought him to the police command shed; another officer promptly handcuffed the suspect to a bench.

The second, heavier man also appeared to be in his thirties, with a shaved head and short beard. He was wearing a Korn T-shirt. He came to the first-aid station under his own power, accompanied by a woman and two female juveniles, but he was bleeding from his mouth and nose and had numerous fresh bruises on his face and scrapes on his arm.

Carr approached the bloodied one, who identified himself as James Christensen. Christensen said that he and his girlfriend and the two girls had been watching the concert on the north side, standing on the walkway just above the fixed seats, when a small group of "Aryan Brotherhood" types — presumed skinheads with tattoos of swastikas or other Nazi symbols — began shoving people and trying to start fights. Christensen had told one of the men, a young guy in a gray T-shirt, to knock it off, that people just wanted to have a good time. He'd turned away to talk to his girlfriend, but the dude was back moments later, and then somebody else grabbed him from behind. He was punched, taken to the ground and kicked.

Christensen was certain that the man in the gray shirt was the instigator of the attack. He hadn't seen the one who grabbed him from behind. His companion, Malissa Adkinson, hadn't gotten a good enough look at the second man to positively identify him, either. But her eighteen-year-old daughter described a man with a shaved head and red shorts who'd put a "chokehold" on Christensen while the gray-shirted one punched him. They'd both punched and kicked Christensen while he was on the ground, she said, and then the man in red shorts had run away but was apprehended by a security guard.

Carr showed her the suspect sitting in the police shed. That's the man, the girl said.

The detective asked the man in the red shorts for identification and read him his rights. Eric Wayne Swanson, a 33-year-old electrician, declined to make a statement. Informed that he was being detained for investigation of assault, he told Carr he had the wrong guy.

Although the first-aid workers told Christensen he might have a broken nose, he declined a trip to the hospital. Carr gathered additional statements, issued Swanson a municipal summons for harassment, then cut him loose. But as Swanson was leaving, a younger man in a gray shirt approached him at the amphitheater's back gate. Christensen and Adkinson promptly identified the man as the other attacker. Unlike Swanson, this one — a 22-year-old named Jeramie Gerhardt — had cuts and abrasions on his face. Carr put him in handcuffs.

Gerhardt seemed bewildered that he was being detained. "I was trying to start a mosh," he told a police sergeant. "We're at a death-metal concert. Who doesn't mosh?"

But Christensen insisted there'd been no moshing going on where he was, just unsolicited attacks. (Moshing, Carr would later note in his report, "is an activity that occurs sometimes at rock concerts where people gather together, sometimes in tight groups and mostly in the area closest to the stage, and engage in pushing, slamming and fighting as a mutual type of activity and without hostility.") And the injuries displayed by both Gerhardt and Christensen didn't look like the kind of thing you'd pick up through incidental contact in a circle pit.

Like Swanson, Gerhardt was issued a summons and released. That's where the matter might have ended two years ago — as a ho-hum case in municipal court — except for two subsequent developments.

After sticking around for the headliner acts, Christensen decided to visit an emergency room in Thornton and get his injuries checked out more thoroughly. An examination determined that he had indeed suffered a broken nose, as well as heavy swelling about his face and fractures to the upper orbital bone of his skull. That made the case one of "serious bodily injury," or SBI. Under Colorado law, even a chipped tooth can be considered SBI, and the hurt inflicted on Christensen was much more serious than that. The medical report prompted Greenwood Village authorities to refile the complaint as a felony second-degree assault charge. Depending on whether the assault is found to involve "exceptional circumstances," it's punishable by up to sixteen years in prison.

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15 comments
Stephen Roth
Stephen Roth

Thanks for airing her side of the story. It isn't entirely true, but it is her side of the story.

No name
No name

The motto for Carol Chambers & her posse of DA's should be: Arapahoe County- don't come here lookin' for justice cuz all you're gonna find is 'Just Us'.They won't even kiss you before they screw you.

Guest
Guest

Re-read the story.... Mr Swanson, (the guy being 'Bitched') is not the man who assaulted the victim. The men who were involved in the assault have no problem letting a former friend take the fall for their actions. Mr Gerhardt accepted a plea bargain of 90 days in jail, probation & will have to perform community service. Mr Swanson on the other hand-is looking at 64 years in prison for an assault that his friends committed. Mr Swanson didn't hurt anyone-

calhounp
calhounp

i'd like to publish some of these comments in our print letters to the editor section, ideally with your full name/town. Let me know if that's okay at patricia.calhoun@westword.com

Alice Hoffman
Alice Hoffman

Yea well we havent seen anything yet for Los Angeles but there is a big gap in Dates after the San Jose show.. so It may be Neil will annouce Dates for Los Angeles soon.Neil Diamond tickets

Guest
Guest

If Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln counties want to keep Chambers as a D.A., isn't there some way those counties can be required to pick up the tab for keeping all these "bitched" offenders in prison all those years?

Amy Taylor
Amy Taylor

I was never the biggest Tim Mcgraw fan but I wouldn't mind seeing his concert in Atlanta. That said, tickets here starts at $57 (before the inconvenience charges) so I'll be passing on that one.Tim Mcgraw tickets

Bob
Bob

That is messed up. I actually feel bad for the dude with the swastica.

Never thought that would happen.

Youknow
Youknow

So he has been arrested again and again, " habitually " one might say but for some reason this time it is supposed to be different? What do we have to wait for this guy to really hurt someone, oh wait, HE DID. Sounds to me like one of the few times the law might work.

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who cares
who cares

Stupid music attracts stupid people !!!

mat
mat

That swnson weirdo is guilty. Go to jail. And the gerhert guy.. go lift some weight lmao. Can't even fight your own fight

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