LACONIA — The young man who is charged with first-degree assault for allegedly cutting a Keene man's neck with a knife said yesterday that the alleged victim ran at him during a verbal altercation early Sunday morning in a local downtown parking lot.
Travis Dunn, 24, is being held without bail in the Belknap County Jail. As of Sunday, his alleged victim, Richard Russell of Keene, was in critical but stable condition at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon.
Dunn, who spoke to the media yesterday, said he was at the Funky Monkey at closing time and was leaving the bar with two girls he knew. They were all going to leave in one car.
He said when they went out the back door to the Beacon Street West parking lot, there were a bunch of guys he had never seen before standing around the woman's car in which the three were going to leave. He said they started yelling and trash-talking at him.
"I was two seconds from sitting in the seat," Dunn said yesterday from behind the glass wall at the jail.
He said just as he was getting into front passenger seat of the girl's car, he said a white double cab or club cab pickup pulled up and more guys he didn't know got out of it.
Dunn said he stood outside the car and brandished a small pocket knife he carries with him. He said he stood with his arm at a 90-degree angle and the five or six men were standing around him in a semi-circle.
"I told them all to back the (explicative) off," he said. He said the girls were pulling him into the car but the group of guys had the car surrounded and were blocking the way out.
He said at this point one guy who was wearing a brown shirt tried calm things down by telling his friends to back off.
"Then this idiot comes charging at me," Dunn said. "I don't even know if he knew I had a knife. He ran right into it."
He said the man, presumably Russell, was wearing a black and white shirt and appeared to be "wasted." He said it appeared he could barely stand up.
"I don't know if he thought he was some kind of commando or something," Dunn said wiping tears from his eyes. "He was just so drunk."
Dunn said once he realized he "nicked" the man he ran because the rest of the guys began chasing him. He said he ran through downtown and eventually hid under a car on Canal Street for about an hour.
He said he heard the police looking for him and could hear a police dog barking but said he was afraid they would shoot him if he came out from under the car.
After an hour he said he made it home and turned himself in to police the next day.
When asked what happened to the knife, he said he fell down about four times while running from the guys who were chasing him and thinks he must have dropped it.
"It's downtown somewhere," he said.
Dunn said he didn't recognize any of the men and doesn't remember seeing them in the Funky Monkey during the evening. He said it's possible the men knew one of the women he was with and that it's possible they were in the bar and he didn't realize it.
He said he had no intention of getting into any kind of argument or fight Saturday night.
"Heck I had two girls and some money left in my pocket," he said. Dunn said the evening had been one of the best nights he'd had in a long time and he was just looking forward to getting home.
"I had two girls. I sure didn't want to mess that up," he said.
Dunn said he's been "in the hole" or in solitary confinement since he turned himself in and has been reading the Bible and "praying and praying and praying."
When asked what he was praying for, he said he was praying Russell was going to be okay and that he gets to participate in his daughter's life.
"I got a daughter, I got a good job," Dunn said, adding he was raised partially in Florida and spent three years of his young life in and out of foster care.
He said he had just begun to connect with some of his family members in the Lakes Region and that his life was just starting to come together.
He said he never met his father until he was 18 and then he died of alcoholism. "I want to be there for my daughter," he said, tears welling again in his eyes.
Dunn also described himself as someone who doesn't like to fight. "Heck, I don't even like to drink that much," he said.
When asked if he had any kind of criminal record he said he was arrested with marijuana once and got into a fight once when he was in high school but he doesn't think that went on his record.
Dunn will appear by video in the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division this morning and will likely be represented by the Laconia Public Defender's office.