Thursday, July 7, 2011

One-Punch Hawkins - Man Not To Mess With

Racial comment preceded fatal Vegas casino punch

Jul 06 2011 06:21PM CST

This image provided by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department shows Benjamin G. Hawkins of Gainesville, Fla., who was arrested on a murder charge in a fatal one-punch fight that left a Utah man dead inside a Las Vegas Strip casino restroom.

LAS VEGAS — A racial comment in the restroom of a Las Vegas Strip casino restroom preceded a single fatal punch that left a tourist from Utah dead and a Florida tourist jailed in Nevada on a murder charge, authorities said Wednesday.

Benjamin Gerard Hawkins, 37, of Gainesville, Fla., took offense to John Massie's comment about "a black man in a yellow shirt" while both men were in the restroom at O'Sheas Las Vegas Casino shortly before the fatal 12:45 a.m. confrontation, according to a police report.

Moments later, Massie was felled by a single punch to the jaw.

"One punch," police homicide Lt. Lewis Roberts told The Associated Press. "He was out. Never got back up."

Hawkins is black. Massie was white. Massie was pronounced dead less than 30 minutes later at Desert Springs Hospital in Las Vegas.

Massie's hometown wasn't immediately available. The police report released by the Clark County district attorney's office doesn't provide them, and the Clark County coroner declined to release the dead man's identity pending completion of the medical examiner's report.

Hawkins was held at the Clark County jail pending a Thursday court appearance in Las Vegas. It wasn't immediately clear if he had a lawyer, and the police said he refused jailhouse interview requests.

Police said the fatal confrontation was captured on casino surveillance videotapes. Roberts said detectives also questioned casino witnesses.

The slaying was the third on the Las Vegas Strip in less than two weeks, including the stabbings of a 21-year-old man Monday on a pedestrian walkway between casinos and the another 21-year-old Las Vegas man in a pre-dawn confrontation June 25.

Las Vegas police convened an afternoon news conference to note that arrests had been made in all three cases, to declare that the incidents were not connected, and to assure the public that the area's marquee tourist attraction was safe.

Everyone was reassured by these comments and all is well in Vegas.

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