Suspect in nightclub slashing said he feared for his life
MINDEN – Attempted murder suspect Justin Ready testified Thursday that he feared for his life when three casino security guards detained him in a darkened room and placed him in what he described as a choke hold.
“I couldn’t breathe and I was in fear for my life,” Ready said, explaining why he pulled out a pocketknife and stabbed two of the guards in the neck.
“I thought I was dead,” he said. “Three strangers take me into a dark room. One puts me in a choke hold and the other two start hitting me.”
Ready, 25, has been charged with two counts of attempted murder and four other felonies in connection with the Nov. 27 attack on two security guards outside a Harrah’s Hotel Casino nightclub.
He has been in Douglas County Jail on $200,000 bail since his arrest last December.
Ready, a Bay area disc jockey who performed under the name MC Fader, said he went to Altitude night club with friends the Sunday after Thanksgiving.
He testified he was invited on the stage by the night’s performer, Refugio Martinez, who performs as DJ(R) Styles.
Martinez testified earlier this week that he told Ready to get off the stage, but the suspect testified Thursday he jumped off the stage on his own.
“I stood up there for about 30 seconds. It was kind of boring and I decided to get down,” Ready said.
He said there were very few patrons in the club and he was confronted by a security guard when he got back on the floor.
“He’s just right there wearing all black attire and staring at me. I had no idea who he was at the time,” Ready said.
Ready said the security guard, identified as David Gontang, was aggressive in insisting that he stay off the stage.
“I said, ‘No problem,'” Ready testified.
Ready said Sontang suggested they talk outside the nightclub. When they left, Sontang told him he had to leave.
The altercation began when the guard tried to remove the admission band from Ready’s wrist.
“He grabs my wrist and I said, ‘You do not have to ‘f—ing touch me.’ He has this look in his eyes and he’s really square up to me,” Ready said.
In a matter of seconds, he said two more security guards had joined Sontang and pushed Ready into a dark room he described as a “cubby hole.”
Ready said one of the guards had him doubled over with his arm around the suspect’s neck in a choke hold and two other guards were hitting him.
He panicked because he couldn’t breathe and pulled out his pocketknife to defend himself.
“A light bulb went off in my head,” he said. “I pulled the knife out with my right hand and flicked it open. I heard it click in my ear. I raised it up above my head and waved it. I kind of did a total of three slashes and he let me go.”
Ready stabbed two of the guards in their necks and fled the club.
A security consultant testified earlier Thursday that Ready was in fear of his life, based on the way he was treated.
“Three on one, pushed in a dark corner, a choke hold?” asked Robert Gardner. “There was a proportionate level of fear to use lethal force to defend yourself.”
“Anybody in a situation where you can’t breathe, a sense of panic sets in,” Gardner said. “You’re going to grasp at whatever straws are available.”
Gardner said the role of the security guard was not to get physically involved.
“Unlike law enforcement officers who have tremendous amounts of training, aggressive take-down techniques are really not the role of a security officer,” he said.
Gontang and security guard Ahmet Albayrak were each stabbed in the neck during the altercation.
Authorities have a videotape of part of the scuffle.
“Ideally, you want everything on camera as a security document for liability and insurance and to establish that the conduct you did was appropriate,” Gardner said.
He testified that from the initial contact, Ready did not appear to be a threat or appear intoxicated.
“You see Mr. Gontang assault Justin, push him against the wall,” Gardner said after viewing the videotape. “Nothing occurred prior to justify that.”
The security guard’s behavior “takes a situation that wasn’t going to be a problem and raises the temperature considerably,” Gardner said.
Douglas County sheriff’s investigator Ron Elges testified Thursday that the security guards’ neck wounds appeared to be offensive rather than defensive.
“He goes straight to the area that is very vulnerable, very hard to deflect easily. Mr. Ready had the opportunity with other targets, the belly line, hands, to stop the victims from attacking him.
“He passes all of them and goes straight to the area that is very vulnerable,” Elges testified.
If convicted of the attempted murder charges, Ready faces up to 40 years in prison.
He also is being tried on charges of two counts of battery with a deadly weapon causing substantial bodily harm and battery with a deadly weapon.
The case before District Judge Michael Gibbons is expected to go to the jury of seven men and six women, including an alternate, Friday.
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