Disabled Marine hurt at local bar

2012-09-24T19:45:00Z 2012-09-26T01:25:08Z Disabled Marine hurt at local barDeborah Laverty deborah.laverty@nwi.com, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2223 nwitimes.com

HOBART | A 65-year-old disabled Marine said he was attacked and threatened Friday while serving an American Legion suspension notice to a patron at Cressmoor Lounge.

Earl McDowell, a Vietnam veteran who received a Purple Heart, told police he was leaving the bar when he was pushed from behind into a wall by one man while three other men attempted to join in the fight.

A fifth man threatened him by yelling, "We will find out where you live."

McDowell credits a man whose name he doesn't know with coming to his aid.

"The attack was unprovoked," McDowell said.

Police, who were called at 6:30 p.m. to Cressmoor Lounge, 620 N. Wisconsin St., determined Jacob Carter, 29, of Hobart, had pushed McDowell.

Carter was charged Monday in Hobart City Court with battery causing injury, police said.

The charge against Carter has been pulled after it was determined by McDowell that it was not Carter who pushed him, police said.

The incident remains under investigation on Tuesday, police Detective David Evans said.

The attack against McDowell may not have been entirely unprovoked, said part-time Cressmoor employee Tom Wenzel.

Wenzel said he was in the bar when McDowell arrived to serve the suspension letter on behalf of Hobart's American Legion Post 54.

"McDowell came in and started trouble," Wenzel said.

Wenzel said McDowell had been heard throwing out accusations.

Those accusations primarily centered around Tami Leir, who had been fired as bartender at the American Legion and been rehired at Cressmoor as its new bartender, Wenzel said.

"This all started because Tami has followers and people left the American Legion to come here," Wenzel said.

Sue Collins, a bar manager at Cressmoor, confirmed McDowell came to the bar to hand deliver to her a letter suspending Scott Leir from the American Legion because he had defaced a Legion photo.

Scott Leir, who was a customer at Cressmoor the night of the incident, is Tami Leir's husband.

Both declined to comment.

Collins, a former wife of McDowell, said McDowell had made arrangements with her to act as a third party in the letter delivery.

Collins said she didn't see the alleged attack of McDowell and didn't know anything had happened until police arrived.

She said she doesn't condone fighting.

"We've never had a fight here, and we tend to attract an older crowd. I told my employees I will not allow it," Collins said.

McDowell, who was taken to St. Mary Medical Center in Hobart after the attack, said he was treated for a sore back and scrapes to his left elbow.

McDowell said he suffers from a number of injuries he suffered while serving in Vietnam, including an enlarged heart as the result of Agent Orange.

"I am not supposed to exert myself," McDowell said.

Hobart Legion Post 54 Cmdr. Robert Hamady termed the incident "a gang attack on an honorably discharged veteran who is known to this group."

"Our veterans laid their life on the line in the military, and they should not be required to lay their life on the line again when they visit a local bar," Hamady said.

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