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A Montana man allegedly fractured the skull of a teenager who refused to remove his hat for the national anthem at a rodeo Saturday.
Curt James Brockway allegedly told authorities he choke-slammed the boy for “disrespecting the national anthem.” Police say the 39-year-old had asked the teen to take off his hat during the national anthem at a Mineral County Fairgrounds rodeo in Superior, Montana. Instead, the teen reportedly replied, “f--k you,” which led to Brockway slamming the 13-year-old to the ground, according to an arrest affidavit obtained by Oxygen.com. Police charged Brockway with assault on a minor.
“Mr. Brockway asked the youth to remove his hat because it was disrespectful to wear one's hat during the National Anthem,” the arrest affidavit stated. It added that Brockway grabbed the 13-year-old “by his throat, lifted him into the air, and slammed the boy into the ground.”
The youth, who reportedly turned 13 in February, has not been named. When police arrived at the scene, they said the teen “had blood coming from his ears after the attack.” The teen also suffered a concussion. He was airlifted to Sacred Heart Children's Hospital in Spokane, Washington.
The boy’s parents said their son was bleeding from his ears for about six hours after the encounter, according to local television station KPAX. He was released after being treated.
“It’s just a lot of pain in my head,” the teen said, according to the station. “I don’t remember anything — the rodeo, the helicopter — nothing.”
"There was a little boy lying on the ground," witness Taylor Hennick told local newspaper the Missoulian.
Hennick, who said she recognized the boy as a family member’s neighbor, became aware of the altercation when she heard a loud “pop” around the time the national anthem was played at the rodeo fairgrounds.
"He was bleeding out of his ears, seizing on the ground, just not coherent," she said.
According to Mineral County District Attorney Ellen Donohue, Brockway felt his actions were justified. Brockway believed “he had every right” to carry out the assault because the teen was not acting patriotic, the New York Post reported.
But some witnesses told police they never heard Brockway ask the 13-year-old to take off his hat, according to the arrest affidavit.
Donohue didn’t respond to Oxygen.com’s request for comment.
Brockway will be arraigned on Aug. 14, according to the Mineral County Clerk of District Court.
The 39-year-old is a convicted violent offender who’s known to local authorities. In 2010, Brockway pulled out a .22 calibre Ruger semi-automatic pistol on a couple and their son, and threatened to kill them in a fit of road rage, according to Mineral County court records. He was convicted of assault with a weapon. Brockway is currently serving a 10-year probationary sentence, according to the Missoulian.
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