At 2:30 this afternoon, the sidewalk between Canvas and OutCentral on Church Street was still a mess from an overnight disagreement turned bloody. At around 3am Saturday morning, as the last patrons of Canvas Lounge milled around, a simple disagreement rapidly turned physical and led to near fatal injuries.

Sergeant John Pepper of the Nashville Police Department was on the scene after the incident.  “It was horrible, just horrible how much blood there was out there,” he said. 

When asked about the incident, Sgt. Pepper said, "Right now the investigation is still open. That being said, after the detectives are able to interview the victim and suspect more thoroughly, the actual circumstances will be more clear." Then, he explained, “Right now, based on interviews with witnesses and those involved, what seems to have happened is that late last night, a couple walked up on a man who was making comments. They found those comments offensive, and one of the men from the couple took issue with those comments. This escalated quickly to a shoving match, and at some point the victim, the man who had made the comments, stumbled when pushed, and fell into the glass at OutCentral, which is single paned glass. The man who shoved him also fell. The shattered glass cut both men badly, and both were taken to the hospital.”

The victim suffered critical, life-threatening injuries. “Paramedics who arrived on the scene said the victim had severe arterial bleeding," Pepper reports. "They said that if someone on the scene hadn’t had the presence of mind to put pressure on the wound he would have died on the sidewalk.” Additionally, the other man directly involved in the fight had suffered serious, and will probably require surgery, but he was in stable condition this morning.

When asked about the nature of the man’s comments that sparked the altercation, Sgt. Pepper indicated that reports from witnesses were unclear. “I wouldn’t even want to speculate about the nature of his comments at this time. Given that the investigation is ongoing, some facts as we now know them may change.”

Of one thing the sergeant was completely sure: "It was a totally unnecessary and tragic event. What started as a verbal disagreement escalated to a simple shoving match, and two people nearly died. One came very close.”

This afternoon, a large dark spot on the sidewalk, feet across in diameter, still marked what had been a pool of blood, and it would have been larger had the mat on the sidewalk not absorbed much of it. Darek Tanner, owner of Canvas, donned a blue cleanup suit and gloves as he began to sanitize the sidewalk and walls to OSHA prescribed standards. “I looked up the procedure on the internet,” he explained, pointing to a bucket full of chemicals. Then he proceeded to remove the treacherously hanging glass that hadn’t been completely knocked out, sharp jagged edges revealing just how close someone had come to dying.

In a larger sense, this incident points to the dangers of confrontation in an environment where people’s judgment is compromised: small things become fights, and while most fights aren’t this serious, accidents do happen. And while the people who started this fight never intended to seriously injure anyone, it can happen anyway. As Sgt. Pepper put it, “Things like this show you why everyone should try their best to get along. It’s just not worth it.”

This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

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