Credit for this press room article is given to Luke Parker, reporter for the Bay Times and Record Observer.
By LUKE PARKER
GRASONVILLE — A Rock Hall man pled guilty to second-degree assault after drunkenly striking a bar bouncer with a boat hook last August.
Thomas Nelson, 34, was sentenced to 10 years in prison March 3, though he’ll only be required to serve three. The rest were suspended.
Last fall, around 2 a.m. August 1, Nelson and a companion, Jose Manuel Collazo Jr., attempted to dock a boat at the Red Eyes Dock Bar in Grasonville. Security, noticing the operator Nelson was drunk, barred them from landing. According to State’s Attorney Lance Richardson, who handled the case in Circuit Court, Nelson became belligerent, screaming at bar bouncers and using racial epithets.
Witnesses reported hearing Nelson yell profanities, saying he wanted to fight all the Black people at the bar — though he did not say “Black people” — and that “Black lives don’t matter.”
While confronting security, Nelson swung a boat hook “like a battle axe” at bar staff, striking bouncer Kean Shanahan in the head, according to charging documents.
An officer from the Maryland Natural Resources Police responded at approximately 2:16 a.m. According to a probable cause statement, the officer found Shanahan bleeding and Nelson “extremely intoxicated” under the influence of alcohol.
Nelson claimed he had thrown the boat hook and that it was “very possible someone was hit,” the officer reported. He also told police that after throwing the hook, he and Collazo were beaten by security with batons, though the injuries the officer observed on both men occurred days before.
Nelson later told nursing staff at the Queen Anne’s County Detention Center, who were caring for a fractured wrist, that he had taken five Xanax bars and drank half a fifth of Captain Morgan rum before the Red Eyes altercation.
Shanahan went to the Queenstown emergency room with multiple facial injuries and lacerations, which required stitches.
Richardson confirmed that Shanahan did not incur any brain injuries and has now recovered.
“The security team from Red Eyes Dock Bar does an excellent job of keeping their patrons safe,” Richardson said. “They are professional and very few arrests or incidents originate from this establishment.”
“Despite being banned from docking at Red Eyes, Nelson rowed his vessel to the pier using a plastic resin chair because the allure, ambience, and excitement of the Red Eyes bar was simply too tempting for Mr. Nelson to resist,” Richardson added in his statement.
Though Nelson was initially charged with first- and second-degree assault, reckless endangerment, and intoxicated endangerment, Richardson chose only to pursue second-degree assault in court. The state’s attorney said he felt second-degree assault, was more appropriate.
Nelson was held in the Queen Anne’s County Detention Center between August and his trial. He has since been transferred to the Division of Correction, the state prison system.