Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

Healthcare reform activist bites off fingertip of 65-year-old man, authorities say [Updated]

Authorities today are searching for a healthcare reform activist who they said bit off the fingertip of a 65-year-old man during a fight at a MoveOn.org rally in Thousand Oaks. 

[Updated at 5:16 p.m.: A previous version of this post reported that the activist had bitten off the finger of a counter-demonstrator. Authorities now say that only the tip of the man's finger was bitten off, and that the 65-year-old victim told them he was not demonstrating at the time of the fight.]

“It all started with their difference in philosophy over healthcare reform,” said Senior Deputy Eric Buschow of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department.

The incident occurred about 7 p.m. Wednesday at a “We Can’t Afford to Wait Vigil” organized by affiliates of the activist group MoveOn.org, which drew supporters of President Obama’s healthcare plan, Buschow said. The rally also attracted several counter-protesters, he said. 

[Updated at 5 p.m.: During the rally at Lynn Road and Hillcrest Drive, near the Oaks Mall, the suspect and William James Rice got into a heated argument and began fighting, Buschow said. Rice, of Newbury Park, punched the suspect after the man called him an "idiot," Buschow said.

At that point, one man bit off the the tip of Rice's left pinkie finger, Buschow said.

Rice then drove himself to Los Robles Hospital and Medical Center, about a mile away, Buschow said.  A witness picked up the detached fingertip after the suspect spit it out and drove it to the hospital. Buschow said doctors told the victim that they could not reattach the fingertip because of the high risk of infection.]

Ilyse Hogue, director of political advocacy and communications for MoveOn.org, called the incident “a regrettable act of violence” in a statement released this morning.

“While we do not have any more facts about what happened than what we saw in press accounts, MoveOn condemns violence in all forms,” Hogue said. “We support the Ventura County sheriff’s investigation into the situation. It is in our firm hope that this event does not detract from the tens of thousands who were out peacefully making their voices heard for health care reform and a public option.”

Authorities said they are looking for a white male in his late 40s or 50s who was last seen wearing black shorts and a black shirt. 

“We’re still trying to figure out who was the aggressor,” Buschow said.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department at (805) 494-8201.

—Ruben Vives

Comments () | Archives (454)

Check employment records of MoveOn.org and have every employee's picture shown to the elderly man.

Even if he can't find a picture of the perpetrator, the elder should get a good lawyer and sue MoveOn.org the organization.

Are there any ethical lawyers out there willing to tap into Soros money?

Red County editor for Ventura reported on this as well. The MoveOn.org crowd are completely unhinged.


James says, "20 bucks says the victim was wagging his finger in front of the guy and was warned to stop several times. i bet he deserved it."

James is a douchebag. James is probably adamently against violence in all forms unless someone is asking for it (i.e. someone disagrees with James). Typical liberal.

The man who lost his finger can go to any emergency room in the nation and get his finger reattached without insurance. This is the law, and has been for years. I worked for a hospital in Michigan for 14 years, and this is one of the difficulties that hospitals have to deal with. All of you who are saying "good thing he has medicare" are betraying a level of either misinformation or ignorance. This man and anyone with a legitimate emergency is treated whether they have insurance or not. The healthcare debate is extremely complex, and we are a much larger nation than any that is offering universal health care. The stakes of screwing up our imperfect but still excellent system are staggering. Don't rush the debate. We all need to cool off and really seek the best solution. It is wrong to try to ram something through without thorough input from physicians, insurance companies and pharmaceuticals. We are America. If we do this right, we can do it better than anyone else on the planet. We have the best people because we allow all the best from everywhere to come here. S L O W D O W N......

The 1st post above by JT is an out and out LIE. I was there, witnessed the incident and gave my account to the Sherriff's deputies on the scene.

An elderly woman was attempting to pass out flyers to the "anti" group when the old man with white hair threatened to hit her. The Moveon supporter who was waiting to cross the street intervened when he heard the woman being threatened.

When I heard the shouting I looked and saw the old white haired guy sucker punch the Moveon guy, knocking him to the ground and he then punched him again. The moveon guy was down on the ground trying to defend himself.
The 65 year old guy whose finger was bit began the violence.

This is the typical type of left wing radical agenda driven behavior we have come to expect. The criminal that committed this crime is probably on the payroll of some leftist group like ACORN. These types of people feel they have to resort to these tactics when the facts get in the way. Where is Obamas approval rating again - somewhere in the 30 something percentile?

This is not funny. I hope someone took a picture of this thug. I wonder if he belongs to the SEIU.

This type of incident is just the tip of the iceberg if the democrats try to ram more socialism down our throats. They think that the American people (sheep in their eyes) have become too soft to rise up and defend this nation...think again. I came here from a fascist regime and I'll die in the street before I stand by and let it happen again!!

...the guy with his finger chewed off should get a big time lawyer and sue the stuffing out of Georgie Soros......all these rabid liberal thugs have a habit of violent behavior.....

This was a good country before W & Cheney perverted the American dream, and may be again, once the lunatic fringe on the right are reduced to, as Grover said, "Small enough to drown in the bathtub". Rove's idea of a permanent republican majority was certainly off the mark. Maybe he and Dick can be roommates in the pen. I wonder which one will get the "top bunk".

Under the House version of Obamacare, wouldn't reattachment of the severed finger be considered "elective surgery"? Since the detachee in this case is 65 years old, isn't it likely that this elective procedure woudl be deemed unnecessary? After all, how much longer will he be needing that finger? Give him an asprin and send him home!

Obama told him to get in Peoples Faces. Check.

Obama told him to bring a Gun. Oh Damn.

Guess I'll just have to Improvise.

Hate to break it to "Get it Right Giff" but Medicare is not government run healthcare--it is a payer of insurance (it does not provide care of any kind). You might also note that it is going broke in 8 years--and that is before the Obama Administration cuts 500 billion out of it to pay for health care for 19-25 year olds who don't want it in the first place. I was at a Town Hall recently where Howard Dean said that we couldn't do medical malpractice reform because doing so would create enemies with the trial lawyers. It is sad to see how so many ignore the facts in order to push a radical agenda paid for by hard working Americans. I believe that America has had enough and 2010 will be here soon to send a wakeup call to end the madness.

Ah yes, another tollerant liberal just tolerating somebody with a different view. Funny how James here is claiming the guy missing the finger was the intollerant one and "must have" deserved it. In other words the guy doing the finger removal is the victim. James, we do know how to have an honest debate on the topic, but its hard when people get beat up, fingers bitten off, and are told the words on the bill in front of them dont actually mean they say.

Only a brainwashed obama robot would imagine that the old man "deserved" it. Back off, my constitution is greater than your "pretend" president....where is his birth certificate?

The victim should contact an attorney to look into the possibility of bringing suit against the organizers of the event to determine if they were at all negligent for creating such an unsafe environment. It's too early to say one way or another. Definitely contact an attorney.

James said he bets the anti-Obamacare person probably deserves to have his finger bitten off. Then he says those who opose Obamacare don't know how to have a civil debate.

Hmmm. So the appropriate response is to bite off a man's finger. . . . Obamacare at its finest hour?

If this nonsense becomes law, Obamacare will do more harm than a bitten finger!

I would say that Obama is now inciting violence in this country. I am sure that the biter must have been a union member.

This will never end until Obama is IMPEACHED!

MoveOn supports and encourages this kind of attitude. They are just union thugs who care about cheating the taxpayer through government , not health care.

The sad part of all this is the way the LEFT wing NUTS are suggesting the old man is the agressor. No one has the right to bite a man's finger off. I know because I have read the constitution and it's just not there!

And they call themselves "PROGRESSIVE"? This only makes me happy not to be a DUMMYcrat.

MOB mentality

Obama Mobsters at work...

i would love to have an obama supporter approach me like that, it would give me someone to take my frustration out on. i promise i wont be trying to walk away! its their fault were in this mess. there all a bunch of commies.

the most amazing party of this is how the elderly victim is somehow the aggressor in the minds of moveon.org zombies.
He had it coming!!!

James, your comment is right out of an Orwellian novel.
" I bet he deserved it?" Even if he was waving his finger, YOU NEVER DESERVE TO HAVE IT BIT OFF!
"The anti-reformers do not know how to have a discussion about this topic..." The anti reformers aren't biting fingers off! It's pretty hard to "have a discussion about this topic" with a mouth full of knuckle.


« | 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 ... 18 19 | »


Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...


About L.A. Now
L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
Have a story tip for L.A. Now?
Please send to newstips@latimes.com
Can I call someone with news?
Yes. The city desk number is (213) 237-7847.


Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: