Knife attack described by casino guards: Jury trial continues today involving nightclub stabbing at Harrah’s
MINDEN – A casino security guard testified Wednesday morning about the training involved in his job, handling disruptive patrons and details about the night when he was stabbed in the neck.
David Gontang culled his memory of last Thanksgiving when he escorted Justin Ready, who was spotted on the DJ’s stage, out of what was then Altitude nightclub only to get in a scuffle with Ready, who allegedly used a knife to slash his way to an escape route.
Ready is charged with attempted murder and faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted by the jury of seven men and six women, which has one alternate. He has been in jail since his arrest on $200,000 bail.
Gontang, a Harrah’s Lake Tahoe security officer, said he saw Ready, 25, on the stage Nov. 27 and ordered him down. After arguing on the dance floor regarding Ready’s right to be on the stage and Gontang believing Ready would be a problem for the rest of the night, the security officer escorted Ready to the entrance of the club in order to pull his wristband.
“I was telling him to call it a night,” Gontang said under questioning from Dina Salvucci, Douglas County deputy district attorney.
Details of what happened next varied among the five witnesses – three security guards and two of Ready’s friends – who took the stand in District Judge Michael Gibbons’ courtroom Wednesday.
Most agreed the initial contact was made by Gontang, who backed Ready up to a wall and attempted to pull the plastic wristband from Ready’s arm. The wristband is used for entry into the club.
Ready, resisting, pulled his arm away from Gontang and a scuffle ensued as guards tried to take Ready to floor, with Ready trying to escape and his friends trying to intervene, according to court testimony.
Gontang, who thought he was hit with a stun gun, said Ready “nonchalantly” touched the side of his neck with a knife, which he did not see. He subsequently suffered neck and wrist wounds.
Fellow guard Ahmet Albayrak, assigned to Harrah’s through Event Services in Reno, testified he gripped Ready’s face in a headlock when he was reportedly stabbed in his neck and thumb.
“(Ready) had a bad mouth that night,” testified Albayrak, in describing the confrontation between Gontang and Ready.
Although the suspected weapon was a small folding knife, it inflicted severe wounds. Both security guards needed surgery and a two-day hospital stay in Washoe Medical Center where they were taken by a CareFlight helicopter. Albayrak can’t move his head all the way left because of pain from his scar.
“(Blood) was just drenching the whole right side of my body,” Gontang said.
Defense attorney Dirk Manoukian said his Ready, a Bay Area dj known as MC Fader, acted in self defense.
The Concord attorney revealed the guards, especially Albayrak, had little to no experience in subduing a potentially combative casino patron although two guards are told to “contact and cover” an unruly customer.
Manoukian asked Albayrak if he remembered Ready tapping his arm when he had him in the face hold. Tapping is often a sign of submission. Albayrak answered he did not remember.
Gontang said he had no reason to suspect Ready was intoxicated nor did he plan to detain the club goer. Two of Ready’s friends, Greg Pinkley and Ryan Miller, testified their group of friends were celebrating Thanksgiving and Ready being in town. The mood of the group was joyful and Ready even drove his friends to Lakeside because he hadn’t had much too drink, they testified.
Both said they never saw Ready possess a knife before but Miller chastised his friend for allegedly using it on the guards.
“I thought it was a bad idea,” Miller said.
Other charges against Ready are two counts of battery with a deadly weapon causing substantial bodily harm and battery with a deadly weapon.
Trial will resume today at 9 a.m.
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