A large-scale fight at the BP gas station just off campus left a window shattered and a man hospitalized, according to paramedics and eyewitness reports.
An unidentified man believed to be around 20 years old sustained injuries and was taken to Druid City Hospital by ambulance after a multiple-person fight broke out at the University Boulevard BP early Sunday, Tuscaloosa Fire and Rescue Service Lt. Travis Parker said.
“We responded to a call at BP at 2:22 a.m.,” Parker said. Though he didn’t elaborate on the man’s condition, he said paramedics accompanied the man to the hospital.
“We typically don’t ride in with the person unless there’s an issue,” he said. “Witnesses on the scene said the patient was involved in a fight with multiple people, and he was kicked and punched in the head several times. He was conscious when he was taken to the hospital.”
Tuscaloosa Police Department Spokesman Brent Blankley said police units that had been patrolling the University area responded to the assault call at 2:25 a.m., and the investigation is ongoing. TPD could not provide the name of the hospitalized man by deadline.
An alumnus of the University witnessed the incident, but he preferred to be quoted as “James,” an assumed name. Otherwise, he said, he feared there might be retaliation from those involved in what he believed to be a gang-related fight due to the fact that he could have been seen giving information to policemen.
Blankley said there is no evidence indicating that a gang was involved. However, James said the policemen who arrived at the scene told him the opposite, adding that it would be treated as a homicide investigation.
A UA student who preferred to be quoted only by her first name also witnessed the episode and said she, too, believed it to be gang-related.
“We [were walking] across the street from the BP, and my friend pointed out how many people were there,” Christen said. “It struck us as odd, but it was late at night, we didn’t think anything about it; it was gameday.
“I assume [the fight] was planned,” she said.
James, who is Christen’s friend, was inside BP when the fight broke out and later, he said, he saw the man who was taken to the hospital being beaten by about 10 people.
“All of a sudden, everybody in the parking lot just starts fighting,” James said. “There are people fighting everywhere and they’re all fighting each other.”
As James walked toward the door, one of the windows shattered, though he said he doesn’t know what caused it.
Blankley and Parker confirmed that there were no gunshots fired.
However, James said people began shouting that someone in the crowd had a gun.
“Someone says, ‘He’s got a gun, he’s got a gun,’ and everybody just starts scrambling,” he said.
James said he saw three men lying unconscious in the parking lot. Friends of two of the men put them into cars and took them away from the scene.
“Me and [the other man who was in the store] start walking at a fast pace trying to get out of there, and I see a guy laying on his side … He’s not moving, and people there are just running up to him and kicking him in the face.
“I see about 10 people kicking him while he’s down.”
After the crowd dispersed, James said he walked over to the man on the ground, hoping to provide help.
“There’s blood everywhere, and right as I get to him, someone else runs up and kicks him in the face, and blood splatters everywhere, it gets all over my face,” he said.
James said he began slapping the man hoping to help him regain consciousness.
“He’s bleeding out of the back of his head, bad, and his face is absolutely destroyed; he’s got blood all over him,” he said. “There’s blood everywhere, and I’m on both of my knees on his left side, and he reaches up and grabs me by my shirt, so I kept telling him ‘You’re going to be all right.’”
After paramedics arrived, James said the policemen began questioning him as they roped off the BP. They asked James for a statement, but he said he’d prefer to wait until the next day because there were about 20 people, who looked like they may be involved, standing across the street.
“The cops told us they thought it was gang-related, but that they didn’t think [the people across the street] were going to do anything to us, but they understood that we didn’t want to give our statements then,” James said.
Christen said policemen have yet to contact James, though they said they would call him Sunday.
“The cops never further questioned him, even though he and the other guy [a paramedic] were the only two real witnesses.”
James said he isn’t sure whether the investigation is still being treated as a homicide.
“I don’t know if the guy died,” he said. “He was breathing and alive when he got put into the ambulance. What happened after that … I don’t really want to know. It would just make it worse.”
Information regarding the man’s condition could not be obtained by deadline.