Sing, swim, chase, arrest - right to video
Maybe he wasn't a huge fan of doo-wop vocals. Maybe he had all the August he could stand. Or maybe, as several witnesses suggested, he just had a little too much to drink while sitting in the Shipwreck Restaurant and Bar beside Oak Bluffs Harbor, and something snapped.
Whatever the cause, Casey Eason, 28, charged into the middle of a harborside performance by the popular men's collegiate singing group Vineyard Sound and pushed performer Henry Kiely backward into the water.
Oak Bluffs police arrested Mr. Eason after what onlookers described as a "mob" of about a dozen people chased him from the harbor, up Circuit Avenue, and into an alley.
Mr. Kiely, a 20-year-old Wesleyan College student from Morrisville, Vermont, said he was able to grab a dock line from a large motor vessel, to keep from going under, or worse.
"It was a blessing and a curse," said Mr. Kiely a day later, speaking from a replacement mobile phone - his previous phone was ruined when he got pushed into the harbor. "If I didn't hit the rope, I'm not sure what I would have hit. I caught it, and got a rope burn under my armpit, which is the worst place to get a rope burn."
The whole sequence was recorded on video by Noah Gareau, a young tourist from Montreal, who quickly posted it on the Internet where it has already been viewed more than 600 times.
A couple of shots
Teddy Karalekas, who owns the Shipwreck with his girlfriend Leslie Graham, described what he saw.
"I'm shucking," said Mr. Karalekas. "I got 12 oysters on the deck. He comes out of nowhere and really blasts Henry. My girlfriend threw a couple of shots at him (Eason). She's tough. He started running, and five or six other kids took off after him."
Brian Langhammer watched the whole episode from in front of his popular hot dog shop, Dinghy Dogs. He said at first he thought it might have been a stunt. Several people said Mr. Eason casually lit a cigarette before leaving his seat at the bar.
"He just walked down, put two hands on him, and shoved him in the water," Mr. Langhammer said. "This guy had no exit strategy, he took off running in flip-flops. I was afraid they were going to get him, there would be a riot. I wanted the cops to get him before the crowd got him. There's only one word for that kind of behavior: Falmouth."
In his report, police officer Kyle Shea said he first encountered Mr. Eason near the top of Circuit Avenue as he was being pursued along a street crowded with families and children.
"He was being chased by a large crowd of people," wrote Officer Shea. "The crowd was screaming, 'grab him, grab him.' I then ordered the individual identified as Robert Casey Eason to stop."
Officer Shea said as he took Mr. Eason into custody in an alleyway, the pursuing crowd caught up and identified him as the person who pushed the Vineyard Sound singer into the harbor. One individual, not identified in the report, "stated that when trying to grab Eason by Reliable Market, that Eason forearmed, hit him in the chest and then double handed pushed him the face, breaking his $40 pair of glasses," according to the report.
Officer Dan Cassidy and Officer Shea handcuffed Mr. Eason and transported him to the police station, where he was booked on two counts of assault and battery and a charge of disorderly conduct. He was arraigned in Edgartown District Court on Tuesday morning. Bail was set at $300. In court records, Mr. Eason's address is in St. David, Maine.
The show goes on
The incident happened as Vineyard Sound made its regular Monday night route of street corners and harbor gathering spots, drumming up interest for a concert later that evening at the Trinity United Methodist Church.
"These kids have been singing in front of my joint all summer," said Mr. Karalekas. "They're such great kids." After the group and several onlookers fished Mr. Kiely out of the harbor, Mr. Karalekas fitted him with a dry shirt, if not exactly the standard button down oxford with tie the singers usually wear.
"He performed in a Hawaiian shirt and soggy cargo shorts," said Eddie Silva, another member of the group.
"I was 50 percent soaked," Mr. Kiely said.
The evening concert was delayed a bit, while Mr. Kiely and another singer went to the Oak Bluffs police station to identify the suspect. They were driven back to the church in a police cruiser, where they rushed inside and joined the rest of group to finish the one-hour concert.
A day later, Mr. Kiely was able to laugh about the wild scene, especially the Internet video.
"If I were to see this on a TV show, I'd be laughing," Mr. Kiely said. "It's pretty funny. It's good to know I can laugh about it now, because I wasn't laughing about it then."