Charges Levied in Response to Bar Fight

By Rick Hiduk

(Also published in the Rocket-Courier)

Two men involved in altercations in and outside of the Warren Hotel in the early morning hours of March 3 face the same charges as a result of their participation in the event. Owen Everette Houser of Factoryville and Brady White of Ashland City, TN, were charged with one count each of simple assault, disorderly conduct, and harassment.

According to a report filed by Tunkhannock Borough Police Chief Keith Carpenter, those interviewed in the days following the series of incidents agreed that the bar was especially busy near midnight on March 2 as patrons continued filing in. Carpenter was dispatched to the scene at approximately 1:10 am by the Wyoming County Communication Center.

He first encountered a number of people walking north on Warren Street, among them White, who admitted to Carpenter that he had just been involved in an altercation at the Warren during which he had struck another individual. White informed Carpenter that he was staying at Shadowbrook Resort and provided a phone number at which he could be reached for further questioning.

Carpenter also spoke briefly with a female from Norwich, OH, walking with White, who said that White had punched Houser after he aggressively grabbed her breasts a second time after being told by White not to do so again. The female is considered a victim of harassment.

Houser’s recollection of the entire evening is clouded, as he was apparently knocked unconscious by the first punch and fell to the floor. White allegedly continued to punch Houser, while various people tried to pull him away. Another of Houser’s friends and the female described the ensuing scene as a melee, with numerous unnamed people pushing and punching others.

Once he (White) was restrained, every pipeliner started throwing chairs, bottles, and trying to push and punch anyone,” Houser’s friend recalled.

There were multiple people holding people back and fighting,” the female stated. “Everyone eventually went out the door.”

Houser’s friends described him as “not of sound mind” for the remainder of the evening. When he first got up from the floor, Houser exited a side door of the bar where he encountered White again in the parking lot. According to police, this is when Houser became the aggressor.

He did not have to confront White,” Carpenter told the Rocket-Courier, noting that this is when the charges evened out.

Another of Houser’s friends attempted to intervene and was hit in the mouth, resulting in several broken teeth. He lay on the ground in a fetal position while being kicked and punched repeatedly. Houser was also struck again several times.

According to Houser’s friend, the punching and kicking suddenly stopped after a woman screamed. The female victim told police that she looked down and saw a co-worker, identified in a previous police report as Nathan Schmidt of Waverly, MO, lying face down in the parking lot near the steps and bleeding profusely.

Carpenter arrived at the parking lot to find Schmidt severely injured from a fall that did not appear to be directly related to the fight but more a part of crowd participation. Emergency responders were called to the scene and transported Schmidt by ambulance to Geisinger Wyoming Valley where he succumbed to massive head trauma from striking a retaining wall during the fall. A life flight was called but could not be performed due to a snow storm just leaving the area.

Carpenter found Houser sitting on a bar stool inside with injuries to his head and face and slipping in and out of consciousness. After interviewing him briefly, Carpenter arranged for Houser to be transported by ambulance to CMC Hospital in Scranton for treatment of his injuries.

Though Houser was still unable to recall much of what happened in subsequent interviews, police determined there was enough evidence against him to warrant the charges. “Both were involved in the physical altercations,” Carpenter explained. “It is now up to the district attorney and the judge to examine the case and determine the levity of the charges.”

In both cases, the simple assault and disorderly conduct charges are considered misdemeanors and the harassment a summary charge.

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