A 25-year-old Edgartown man was airlifted to a Boston area hospital following a Saturday morning assault in Oak Bluffs that began with a question about who won the Boston Bruins’ game.
The man police say threw the punch, Jose J. Rodriguez Jr., 27, of Taunton, was arraigned in Edgartown District Court Monday, on charges of assault and battery resulting in serious bodily injury. He was released on $2,000 bail.
At 1:20 am, Saturday, Oak Bluffs Police responded to a report of a man “knocked out” on Healy Way, the small mall area by the Oak Bluffs post office. The victim, whom police did not identify, had a bloody nose and was complaining of facial pain. He was later identified for The Times by his father as James R. Joyce, He was transported to the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital.
Based on a description Mr. Joyce and witnesses provided, police identified Mr. Rodriguez as the assailant and spoke to him. He denied any involvement.
Investigating officer Jeff Trudel later called the hospital and learned that Mr. Joyce had suffered a broken jaw and cheek bone, and also had bleeding on his brain. He was airlifted to Beth Israel Hospital in Boston and placed in an intensive care unit, in serious condition, police said.
Mr. Rodriguez has family ties to Martha’s Vineyard. His father lives on the Island, and he was here to attend his cousin’s graduation, according to the police report.
Later Saturday, police located Mr. Rodriguez at the VFW in Oak Bluffs, where he was attending his cousin’s graduation party. He was interviewed and placed under arrest.
According to the police report, Mr. Joyce and his friend Joshua Bryant were sitting in the mall when Mr. Rodriguez and another man walked by, and Mr. Joyce asked who won the game between the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks earlier that night.
Police said Mr. Rodriguez took offense at something said in the verbal exchange and punched Mr. Joyce in the face. Mr. Joyce fell back and struck the concrete with the back of his head.
“Bryant stated he was approximately ten to 15 feet away from Joyce when the assault and battery occurred,” police wrote. “The tall male (Mr. Rodriguez) then turned to Bryant and stated, ‘You got a problem!’ Bryant stated, ‘no.’ The tall man responded, ‘Good, cause if you did you would be lying next to your buddy.’”
Lieutenant Tim Williamson told The Times that police monitoring Circuit Avenue at bar closing time quickly responded. He explained that what is described as simple assault not witnessed by the police is not an offense subject to arrest but is generally handled with a summons.
Assault with serious bodily injury is a felony and subject to arrest. When police learned of the serious nature of the injuries to Mr. Joyce they sought Mr. Rodriguez.
In a conversation Wednesday with The Times, Mr. Joyce’s father, James E. Joyce, described the nature of those injuries and the repercussions from what he said was a “sucker punch” delivered with no warning in response to a simple question.
He said his son fell and hit the concrete after he was punched. He was bleeding in three places in his head and spent three days in the intensive care unit, the elder Mr. Joyce said. His injuries include a broken jaw and eye socket, and he will need metal plates in his face.
Mr. Joyce said his son is now at home recovering. He has no memory and faces a long road to recovery and significant medical bills.
Mr. Joyce said his son works for Contemporary Landscapes. “His job is building stonewalls,” he said. “He won’t be building stonewalls for a long time.”
Mr. Joyce urged anyone who may have witnessed the incident to contact Oak Bluffs Police at 508-693-0750.