Trouble in Paradise�The Complete Story


By Editors

The following week on Good Morning America, Justin Swensen said of the attackers, 'We did nothing to provoke them ever once.'

'Let me just say something,' begins Jimmy Goldman, the pugnacious, voluble American who owns Bamboo Bernie's (and, among many other restaurants, Jacques-Imo's in Manhattan). 'Nothing someone does or says justifies violence. I believe that.'

As he sits on an outdoor patio at the bar, his big, flowing white shirt glows in the night. He looks like Nathan Lane minus self-doubt. 'But to sit here in someone else's country, when someone asks you to move, even if it's not nice how they said it, if I'm a tourist, I move. I don't taunt. What happened is, some words were exchanged. Justin reaches over to Ryan and gives him a hug. A waitress hears a local kid going, 'What are you doing? You're not supposed to be doing that shit here.' Justin said, 'We're in love, leave us alone.' ' (Swensen and Smith both deny they said this.)

The conflict grew; the aggressors were shown out, Goldman says: 'End of incident, all right? That happened at 2 in the morning or so. My doormen say to Ryan and Justin, 'What do you want to do? You should be escorted to your car.'

'No, no! We want to go hang out and party at the bar.' So they go back to the bar'. Ultimately, we can't force you to be escorted out.'

After the islanders were ejected, Swensen and Smith went to look for the friends they had arrived with, Luke Kalat and Sabio Concialdi, who had been in a different part of the bar and seen nothing of the confrontation.

On their way out the door, Swensen says, 'I asked the bouncer to walk us out, and he just said, 'Go have a drink at the bar and wait.' I think I just said, 'Whatever. Let's go.' '

The group walked through the parking lot and onto a small roundabout in front of Sunset Beach Bar. Kalat, a 26-year-old hairstylist, recalls, 'Out of nowhere this car comes rolling towards Ryan and slams on the brakes but not fast enough to stop from hitting him. And they started yelling profanities like 'faggot!' ' The car continued playing cat and mouse with the tourists'swerving away, swerving back, and nearly running into Swensen, who 'jumped on top of the car and jumped off the back. That really set them off.'

Concialdi, a scruffy 30-year-old model and photographer, says the car stopped. 'Two guys got out of the passenger side, and then the driver got out,' he says. 'It was a clown car, dude. I was like, How many people can get out of that tiny car? The girls were trying to get the guys to leave. They didn't care what the chicks were saying. They were throwing rocks the size of softballs. One hit Ryan right in the small of the back and almost knocked him down. And they were throwing spray-paint cans. And they were lovin' it. I see the guy go back to the car, and I heard a cling, cling and I saw that tire iron, and I was like, I am outta here. I saw them go after Ryan, and Ryan looked so scared he couldn't run. He got whacked three times on the same spot, on the head.'

Into this commotion walked Dick Jefferson and Thomas Sickler, a 21-year-old self-described 'New York socialite,' who had been at a nearby casino. Arriving at the roundabout, Jefferson says, he asked the primary attacker, who had not seen Jefferson until that instant, '''What's going on?' And that's all I remember until I was sitting there holding my head.'

He too was hit with the tire iron, and Concialdi 'saw a guy stomp Dick's head'a bunch. And kicked.'

Sickler and several bystanders were calling the police, and, Sickler says, 'The crazy nigger with the tire iron was screaming at me with his terrible French accent, 'Who are you talking to?' and I said, 'Oh, shit!' I ran into this group of Europeans and said, 'Keep that fuckin' nigger away from me!'''

The attackers fled in their white Suzuki, and Concialdi helped Smith stand up. 'I sat him down, and he was, like, 'Is it bad? Is it bad?' It was like a giant flap of skin open. And then a flap of muscle open. And then white skull. And then white powdery fragments of skull. And then a little sliver of brain I could see through his skull. 'Is it bad? Is it bad?' And it wasn't even bleeding. And then suddenly it was bleeding. It was weird. There was no blood, and then there was so much blood.'

Swensen says he held Smith, who 'was saying words that didn't make any sense. I don't even think they were real words so much as just stuttering and trying to talk'and Tommy is screaming for an ambulance, and a security guard came out to say, 'Don't worry, an ambulance has been called. The police have been called.' The only other thing I remember is, I got up at one point to wash my hands off in the ocean because they were so covered in blood.'

The police and ambulance did not show up, by most witnesses' estimates, until about 45 minutes later. The police did not get out of their cruisers. They did not take statements from witnesses. Bystanders told them the attackers' license plate number; they did not write it down.