A freelance photographer for the Martha’s Vineyard Times says he was shoved against a wall and doused with water by actor Bill Murray at Lola’s Restaurant Wednesday evening while on assignment for The Times.
Simon was at Lola’s to shoot the Marotta Brothers band for his Vineyard Scene photo feature, and says not only didn’t he take any pictures of Murray, but he didn’t even recognize the actor and comedian. After the altercation, Simon called Oak Bluffs Police. “Murray grabbed him and poured a drink on his shirt,” Simon told police, according to an Oak Bluffs Police report. Officers declined to seek charges against Murray. Instead, Simon was advised he could take out a criminal complaint in Edgartown District Court, which he is considering. Unless police witness an assault — a shove, water thrown, or something else — they will not arrest, Oak Bluffs Police Lt. Tim Williamson told The Times. On-Island, charges can be filed in Edgartown District Court for past assaults, he said.
Simon said he’s not going to pursue a criminal charge against Murray.
“Murray was visibly upset,” according to the report. He told police Simon had harassed him and photographed him, the report states.
Lola’s owner Katherine Domitrovich told police Simon “had no business photographing anyone in the restaurant, and was generally annoying,” the report states. She was advised to take out a no-trespass order against Simon.
Domitrovich told The Times that Simon was pointing his camera at Murray, and said she thought his purpose for being in the restaurant was to capture images of the actor. Concerning the water dumped on Simon, she said, “Well deserved, well deserved.”
Simon told The Times he thought he had permission to be there because of the invitation of the band.
Jamie Kageleiry, Times associate publisher, said Simon was there to cover Jerry and Rick Marotta and the people who were enjoying their music. “We pride ourselves on giving celebrities their space on-Island,” she said, and stressed that Simon was not assigned to photograph Murray.
Entertainment personalities, authors, and sports figures generally enjoy a paparazzi-free atmosphere on the Vineyard, where the press and the inhabitants treat them indifferently at grocery stores, on the beach, or elsewhere.
Kageleiry described Simon as professional and mild-mannered.
The story was widely published across the country once the Associated Press picked it up. It made radio and television newscasts, as well, and was written about for days on social media.
There were two separate instances when Murray approached Simon at the restaurant, according to the police report.
Simon told The Times he had retreated to an alcove area after taking photos to review his shots. He alleged that Murray came into the area, grabbed him by the shoulders and pushed him against the wall. Murray said to him, “I should [expletive] throw you out of here,” and then threatened “bodily harm.”
The two exchanged words, asking each other, “Do you know who I am?” Simon said.
Simon said he did not recognize Murray. “He looks so different than he used to look,” he said.
Simon said he told Murray he did not attempt to take pictures of him, apologized, and offered a peace sign. “I did all my best to de-escalate it,” he said.
According to the police report, Domitrovich thought Simon was present specifically to photograph Murray.
“She believed that Simon found out that Murray was at Lola’s, and he came to specifically take his picture,” the report states.
Some 15 to 30 minutes after the first altercation, Simon said Murray allegedly elbowed him as he sat on a bar chair and then poured water on both him and his camera.
“I’ve never been treated like that in my life,” he said.
Murray has a home in Chilmark, and Simon lives there year-round. Simon, who is 71, has a photography gallery on Main Street in Vineyard Haven. He is particularly known for his work as a rock-and-roll photographer. Murray, who is 67, was one of the original cast members of “Saturday Night Live.” He is known for such films as “Caddyshack,” “Groundhog Day,” and “Ghostbusters.”
Calls to Murray were not immediately returned.