Friends gathered Saturday in Midwest City to honor an Air Force veteran who died from a brutal beating outside a Bricktown bar.
Men in a crowd beat Dan
Police characterize the beating, which occurred as Maxedon and two friends left the club, as uncharacteristic of a safe area.
A close look at police records reveals the level of violence outside of Rok Bar stands out among reported assaults.
Police records from May 1 — about six months before Maxedon's beating — through early March show police were called to 18 reported assaults in Bricktown, an area defined as Main Street to E Reno Avenue, and the BNSF Railway viaduct to S Lincoln Boulevard.
Examples of Bricktown assaults reported to police during that time period include a 22-year-old female patron at Coyote Ugly punching a male security guard, a 21-year-old woman punched in the face when a scuffle next to her broke out in line at Club Albee and a McDonald's drive-thru patron throwing a Coke in the face of a worker.
Four of the 18 reported assaults occurred outside Rok Bar. In three of them, at least one person involved was lying unresponsive on the sidewalk when the dust settled.
Months before the beating that claimed Maxedon's life, a fight broke out at 2 a.m. Aug. 7 in front of Rok Bar. Witnesses said the fight began with a shoving match between two men inside the club. When it moved outside, a victim was body slammed to the ground, knocked unconscious and then kicked, witnesses said. Up to eight people were involved at one point, witnesses said.
A 21-year-old man was hit with a beer bottle at 1:30 a.m. Oct. 30. The bottle had been thrown at a security guard, but hit the club patron instead. He was bleeding heavily from a cut in his head when police arrived, according to the incident report.
On Jan. 29, a 30-year-old Glenpool man was lying outside of the bar unconscious, but breathing, just after midnight, according to a police report. A 23-year old female witness told police the man had come to her aid when she received unwanted attention from a man inside the bar. The confrontation moved outside and turned violent. Four males knocked out the man before leaving the area, the woman told police. She was taken to the hospital with minor injuries.
Maxedon and friends Hector Camacho, 31, and Steven Still, 36, were out for a guys' night Thanksgiving weekend when they ended up at Rok Bar just before closing time.
As the crowd emptied into the street about 2 a.m., a fight broke out. Afterward, Still and Camacho were hurt, and Maxedon wasn't moving. He lay on the sidewalk, his face swollen, bleeding from the mouth. He never woke up.
Maxedon, an Air Force veteran who lived in Midwest City, served a 2008 tour of duty in the United Arab Emirates in support of the Afghanistan war, said Cody Bowman, a friend who worked with him at Tinker Air Force Base.
Andrea Newcomb, 21, dated Maxedon for two years. His friends, who were like family, organized the memorial for him Saturday, she said.
Newcomb said a piece of her boyfriend's skull had to be removed because of swelling of his brain. A shunt was inserted to drain fluid from his head. His cheek bones and skull were fractured. His family took him to a trauma center in Colorado Springs, where he died March 6.
“I can't even imagine why anybody would get so violent,” Newcomb said.
Not on premises
A former manager of Rok Bar emphasized the assault did not occur on the business' premises.
“The victim had left Rok Bar, but the authorities do not know where the person in question came from/who they are,” Misty Kokojan wrote in an email. The security staff was inside and did not know the fight was going on.
The club provided video from outside its door to detectives, she said.
Police have no descriptions of the attackers except that they were thought to be Hispanic.
A lawyer for the club, Tom Corbin, said the Rok Bar is owned by In Cahoots Saloon LLC.
Corbin said the area out front is where crowds leaving several clubs in the area converge, including Coyote Ugly, Hooters and Skyy Bar.
Club operators take measures to keep club-goers safe, Corbin said, like barring troublemakers from coming back.
The former head of security for Rok Bar has a different story.
Dave Johnson led the security staff at the club for almost four years. Groups of people routinely were allowed back by managers and owners against his recommendation, he said. Those individuals typically were customers who tipped well, brought in other customers or were friends of owners or managers, he said.
Johnson said these groups were respectful to the security staff inside the club. Things changed outside its doors.
“The second they step outside, they try to kill these people,” he said. “It's over nothing.”
The police reports don't reflect all the violence connected to the bar, he said.
Johnson said he knows of at least one instance when a group that had been at the club followed other patrons to a parking lot and knocked one person out. The bar routinely packed in customers over capacity on weekends, he said.
The final straw came a few weeks before Maxedon's beating, Johnson said, when he was asked to slash his hours and lay off staff due to cuts to the security budget. Instead, he quit.
Police on patrol
Police do not consider Rok Bar a problem venue. Bricktown is safe with a high police presence for such a small area, said Capt. Don Martin, who runs the Bricktown police substation, which opened in 2007.
“In Bricktown, like any other place, you're going to have isolated incidents that occur that are outside the control of anyone,” he said. “Bricktown is a very safe place, and it's very much family oriented.”
The substation is operating with two fewer patrol officers than in 2008, because of cutbacks since the economic downturn, Martin said. A typical weekend night includes 11 patrol officers and two supervisors on duty, which Martin called “plenty” for the area.
More officers are on duty during big events such as Thunder games or on summer weekends, he said. Officers are highly visible, patrolling by bike, motorcycle, car and foot.
On Nov. 27, the night of Maxedon's beating, 12 officers were on patrol, Martin said.
For Newcomb, the reassurance that the area is safe provides little comfort. She worries her boyfriend's death is being downplayed to uphold the area's reputation.
“The fight should have been stopped,” she said.
“Maybe a cop needs to be assigned to Rok Bar,” she said. “These were innocent people that just got jumped.”
“They (police) were right around the corner,” Martin said, and they arrived quickly.
“It would have been very nice to have somebody standing there, but the unfortunate thing is we don't know when fights are going to break out or where they will happen,” he said.
Jeannette Smith, the executive director of the Bricktown Association, said the group takes extra measures to keep the area safe. For instance, it hires off-duty police officers to beef up patrols during special events, such as the St. Patrick's Day Parade.
The association strives to be proactive about public safety, she said. It has special meetings for nightclub owners and managers to discuss issues such as not serving customers too much alcohol. Rok Bar “sometimes” sends representatives, she said.