Updated with Copeland undergoing surgery
Indiana Pacers forward Chris Copeland was stabbed in the elbow and abdomen and two other people were wounded during an early morning argument Wednesday in New York City.
Two members of the Atlanta Hawks were arrested for trying to prevent police from setting up a crime scene, the New York Daily News reported. The alleged attacker, 22-year-old Shezoy Bleary, was arrested and a woman who was with Bleary and identified by the News as Catherine Somani was also stabbed in the fight, which broke out down the street from the Chelsea-area club 1OAK shortly before 4 a.m. Charges against Bleary were pending Wednesday morning.
The other victim was Katrine Saltara, a New York City resident who was with Copeland and formerly had a relationship with him.
By early morning, Copeland was undergoing surgery to his left elbow, the Pacers said in a statement.
Thabo Sefolosha and Pero Antic of the Hawks were charged with obstructing governmental administration when they refused to move for police.
Copeland and Saltara were arguing on the street when the assailant allegedly interrupted them. Copeland told him to get lost and he pulled out a knife. (TMZ has video of the aftermath; video has NSFW language and content.) The club, in a statement to the Washington Post, said that Copeland’s driver grabbed the suspect and held him until police arrived.
Copeland, a 31-year-old New Jersey native, and Saltara, who reportedly was wounded in the breast, buttocks and arm, were hospitalized in stable condition. Somani was slashed in the abdomen.
“We were attacked out of nowhere by a [expletive] black civilian,” Saltara said (via TMZ.) “We have nothing to say. We are scared for our lives.”
“We are aware that Chris Copeland was injured early this morning in New York City,” Larry Bird, the Pacers’ president of basketball operations, said in a statement released by the team. “We are still gathering information and will update when we know more. Our thoughts are with Chris and those injured.”
Both the Hawks and Pacers have games tonight in New York.
“We are aware of the situation involving Pero Antic and Thabo Sefolosha this morning,” Hawks spokesperson Garin Narain said in a statement. “We are in the process of gathering more information and will have further comment at the appropriate time.”
In a statement, the club 1OAK noted that it “is extremely concerned with the safety of its patrons and the community. Mr. Copeland and his wife were accosted in front of Fulton Houses where the unfortunate incident occurred after an altercation with the perpetrator. As a committed community member and partner, 1OAK was fully cooperative with NYPD and a review of the video footage seems to reveal the incident did not originate from or surrounding the venue. Mr. Copeland’s driver sprang to accost and detain the apparent perpetrator and that individual is in police custody. The incident occurred beyond the view of our security. Once alerted the venue provided all assistance possible.”
The Pacers and Knicks play Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden; the Hawks play the Nets on Wednesday night in Brooklyn. For the Pacers in particular, it will be an odd vibe. Pacers Coach Frank Vogel admitted Wednesday afternoon that he was “mildly” concerned that the stabbing might be a distraction.”We have a pretty headstrong group, so I know they’re going to have Cope on their minds and have great concern for him. But like I said it’s a headstrong mentally tough group, so I think our focus will be good.”
Copeland’s teammates reacted on Twitter and Vogel noted that the team would have to do a balancing act. “You hear something like that, it hurts. Your thoughts and feelings and emotions are making sure that a family member is okay, but you’ve got to get focused.”
Paul George, who played for the first time Sunday since breaking his leg last summer, told reporters “We’re good. We’re definitely focused on trying to make this playoff push and playing with consistency. … We have a goal, to try to win out and do the best job that we can and make sure that everything is in our hands. So when the season is over, hopefully, we have the seventh or eighth spot and not relying on, win or lose, down the stretch. … Stuff is going to happen, and as professionals, we have to do our job.”
There’s no curfew and Vogel said the team would “address all that at the appropriate time.”
Solomon Hill didn’t think one was necessary. “We’re grown men. So I think you don’t want to try to tell people what to do on their free time. But things happens. Even if you don’t have a curfew, things could happen. So we just, everybody said a prayer for him and we look forward to him coming back.”