Man's ear bitten off at Toronto Eagles of Death Metal show

by Jesse Locke

May 9, 2016






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One man was arrested for the assault, while the other was sent to the hospital.

Photo: Elisabeth Isles

UPDATE: Nursing student Grace Hughes and her friend Catherine Dupuis have shared their stories of picking up the piece of the assault victim’s ear (who remains unnamed) and tending to him as they waited for the ambulance to arrive. While other audience members gawked and took photos, they acted swiftly, grabbing the ear and safely storing it in a cup of ice.

“It was quite the night, and I hope the fellow EODM fan is healing well,” says Hughes. “Cat and I saw the two in a scuffle, eventually separated by people from the crowd. I noticed his ear bleeding. My first thought was he had an earring and it got ripped, but there was too much blood to be just that. I looked closer and realized half his ear was missing!”

“Instinctively I knew this was not a simple wound,” she continues. “I went straight to the bar and asked the bartender for a cup of ice ASAP and grabbed bar napkins. I advised them there was a guy bleeding who needed it fast. She gave me the cup, then I went to find him and told him ‘we need to ice your ear right now, it’s bleeding heavily!’ He kept asking how bad it was, but I didn’t want to make him anxious or panic so I told him we needed to ice it to help the bleeding slow down. He was a trooper.”

Hughes and Dupuis first witnessed the fight between the victim and the man charged with aggravated assault, named by The Star as 45-year-old Martin Edwards. Dupuis added her memories of bravely carrying the “chunk of ear.”

“Grace was tending to the guy with his ear bitten off and instructing someone to call 911,” she says. “I saw the piece of ear and explained to her that the chunk of ear was still on the floor. She told me to grab a cup of ice and go get it (everyone else was just taking pictures and staring). I had already told a security guy that the piece was on the floor. I went with a cup of ice and napkins.”

“The security guy I had informed was just about to pick it off the floor with napkins as I bent down to pick it up myself,” Dupuis continues. “I had him hand the piece of ear over to me so as to get it on ice right away. I held onto the cup for safekeeping until the paramedics arrived. Grace continued to apply ice and pressure as the guy was bleeding out a lot. She had blood all down her arm and had to change out the ice pack several times.”

“The EMS arrived and I gave them the rundown of his situation, then handed over the cup with the ear on ice,” Hughes concludes. “They were very thankful for the assistance. I’m not sure how to contact him or find out how he’s doing, but I hope they were able to reattach his ear.”

In my usual Monday morning search for music news, I came across a shockingly violent incident at the Eagles of Death Metal show at Toronto’s Opera House on Saturday, May 7th.

The story of a male audience member’s ear bitten off following his fight with another man was first reported in vague and somewhat suspect fashion by Alan Cross. He shared the following info from “someone at Universal Music”:

“Some guys just got into a fight in front of us and the one guy bit off the other guys ear. I am not joking. It was the most fucked up thing I have ever seen. We had to get security to pick up his ear in case they can fix it. Just sharing because it happened right where we were all standing.”

After reading this, I immediately wanted to learn more so I reached out to my friend Jay Anderson from the band Biblical. They’ve been touring with Eagles of Death Metal but weren’t on this show for Canadian Music Week, though he had been hanging out backstage. Anderson didn’t witness the Mike Tyson/Evander Holyfield moment himself, but did hear about it at the time and was just as shocked as I was.

“That was the craziest Toronto crowd I have ever seen. Not the usual sleepy Toronto crowd.”

The busiest drummer in town recommended reaching out to Will Schatz, the Opera House’s sound engineer who was working at this show. Oddly, Schatz didn’t see it go down either because he was dealing with a different incident at the same time involving an equally rowdy member of the crowd.

“I missed all of that so I don’t really know what, how, or why,” he explains. “The same time that happened someone threw a drink on the sound board. Liquid got in the board and disabled four faders. I was busy trying to keep the console working so the show wouldn’t stop. That was the craziest Toronto crowd I have ever seen. Not the usual sleepy Toronto crowd.”

“It happened at the same moment that Jesse [Hughes] went on the balcony to play guitar so lots of people missed it,” Schatz continues. “All the stories I have heard were different degrees of two guys fighting. One guy was crazy and bit the other dude’s ear off. Then it turned into stories of a brawl where a guy got his ear bit off, then stories about the ear being walked on until someone was able to get it in a cup of ice. It keeps getting more and more exaggerated.”

“A customer picked [the ear] up. She put it on ice and we gave it to the ambulance when they arrived.”

To get some further clarification, I phoned Athena Ellinas-Towers, general manager of the Opera House. While she was initially hesitant to share the story, she eventually agreed and provided the following information:

“I didn’t witness anything, but there was a confrontation between two individuals. It was brought to my attention by the medical attention. The one gentleman that instigated the whole thing was arrested and charged. I’m not sure of the charges; I just saw him being arrested. The police haven’t followed up with me yet. We called them because this is a serious offence.”

When asked about what happened to the ear itself, Ellinas-Towers explained that a non-squeamish female member of the crowd eventually picked it up and delivered it to the staff of the venue.

“A customer picked it up, because I didn’t know where it was. She put it on ice and we gave it to the ambulance when they arrived. I asked the police to follow up with me but they never did. This is a first, let’s say. I didn’t actually believe it when someone came up to me and told me what happened. It’s just bizarre.”

Eagles of Death Metal/The Bronx drummer Jorma Vik also confirmed that the assault occurred. In a now deleted Facebook post, he stated that “a dude in the crowd got his ear bitten off last night at our show in Toronto. First time for everything I guess!”

UPDATE: Photographer Gary William Ogle contacted me to share his photo of the ear lying on the ground. It’s gross and decidedly NSFW, so click at your own discretion.

According to Exclaim, the band and Toronto police have not yet commented on this story. They report that a witness “saw a man with a bandaged head being detained by police, though that man’s identity and involvement with the ear-biting altercation could not be confirmed.”

Eagles of Death Metal fan Jason Taylor commented on this article to explain that while he didn’t witness the fight itself, he was at the back bar of the Opera House when both men were being escorted out. He also witnessed the drink dropped onto the soundboard from the balcony, and says another friend helped break up the fight with blood on his hands.

“The guy whose ear was bit was standing in front of me while they applied ice – before he was moved to the entrance area where they gave him a stool to sit down while waiting for the ambulance,” says Taylor. “I saw his ear, and for the record, it was the top 1/3 that was bit off (not the whole ear – not that this makes what happened any better). The guy who did it looked totally unphased by what he had done. Saw him in cuffs outside as I was leaving too. He had the same unphased expression on his face. It was a horrible thing to happen at any concert.”

While Schatz was also upset by this violence, he clarified that he means to paint the crowd in a positive light. He says it was “awesome to see a Toronto crowd so into a performance. That is something I rarely see here.”

Josh Vamos contacted me to say that he witnessed the incident, pulled the two men apart, and walked them out to the front to security.

We will update this story with more information as it becomes available. If you were in attendance and witnessed the ear biting incident, please get in touch.

Tags: Music, News, assault, bite, Eagles of Death Metal, ear, fight, Opera House, violence






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