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Police: Race-related comments preceded fatal punch at O’Sheas

Updated Wednesday, July 6, 2011 | 2:58 p.m.

Click to enlarge photo

Benjamin Gerard Hawkins

Map of O'Sheas


3555 Las Vegas Blvd South, Las Vegas

Strip Murder

KSNV coverage of another murder on the Las Vegas Strip, July 6, 2011

A fatal punch early Wednesday at O’Sheas on the Strip occurred after race-related comments were made in the casino’s restroom, according to a police report.

Metro Police arrested Benjamin Gerard Hawkins, 37, of Gainesville, Fla., in the death of a Utah tourist on the casino floor at O’Sheas, 3555 Las Vegas Blvd. South. Police responded at 12:46 a.m. to reports of a person unconscious and not breathing.

The victim, identified in the police report as John Massie, was taken to Desert Springs Hospital, where he later died.

According to the report, Hawkins and Massie were inside the ground-floor restroom at the casino when “Massie made some comment to Hawkins to the effect of ‘a black man in a yellow shirt.’ ”

Hawkins told Massie to “shut up,” then Massie walked out of the restroom as Hawkins walked behind him, the report said. Authorities said their actions were captured on casino surveillance after they left the restroom.

Massie is seen in front of the Burger King at O’Sheas with his hands in his pockets saying something to Hawkins. Hawkins then said something to Massie, police said, then turned his back on him as if to walk away.

“Hawkins then turned very quickly and threw a right-hand punch, striking Massie on his left cheek/jaw,” the report said.

In the video, Massie is not seen moving after the punch. He was pronounced dead at 1:08 a.m. Wednesday at the hospital.

“One punch to the side of the face and he was out,” Metro homicide Lt. Lew Roberts told the Associated Press. “Never got back up.”

During a police interview, Hawkins told detectives Massie made racial comments in the men’s room.

“The only thing Hawkins could recall was that Massie had said ‘black guy something,’ ” the police report said. “Hawkins said Massie said something to the effect of ‘what are you going to do about it’ and Hawkins interpreted his actions as aggressive.”

Hawkins told police he feared Massie would punch him in the back of the head if he turned around, so he punched Massie.

Hawkins was booked into the Clark County Detention Center and charged with murder. He is being held without bail and his first court appearance is scheduled Thursday, according to jail records.

Gary Thompson, spokesman for Caesars Entertainment, which owns O’Sheas, declined to comment on the death.

Massie's death marks the third homicide in two weeks on the Strip.

Andres Armando Elena, 21, of Las Vegas, died from a stab wound to the chest June 25 on the pedestrian walkway between New York-New York and MGM. Police arrested 25-year-old Victor Quijano in connection with Elena's death.

On Monday, a man was stabbed to death outside the Cosmopolitan during a fight. Pedro Carlos Robledo, 28, was arrested in the the death of Javier Medrano Padilla.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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  1. Michael...
    How's that DADT deal coming along?

  2. Not to sound racist when I say this... But anyone else notice the mexican theme to all the killings? Could it be the gangs from L.A. spilling over?

  3. @GoBruins - Were you a member of the Casey Anthony jury? Mexican theme? A Utah tourist and a Florida tourist fighting at an Irish themed casino has a MEXICAN THEME? Are you retarded?

    And no, the guy stabbed to death on the NYNY flyover wasn't a LA gang banger. He was a local kid who went to high school here. Not a vato loco.

  4. This article seemed confusing it started out in one paragraph describing the incident as a beating, That itself suggest multiple punches, Then in the next paragraph it is described as a slaying, Then it continues into another paragraph that it was a single punch that killed the guy. Please clarify this for me was it a brawl or a single punch that the man died from.

  5. I was planning to visit in September I may have to reevaluate that.

  6. This doesn't sound the way it was described as a beating or slaying. It sounds like 2 people that didn't get along and a lone blow was thrown. Doesn't sound like he intended to kill him. He probably fell over and hit his head or something like that.

  7. ""Anyone query Mayor OG on this? I mean he is all-things organized crime!""


    OG is no longer Mayor of Las Vegas.

  8. I wonder if alcohol/drugs played any part in this?

  9. I know the story has been updated but earlier it said a Utah man killed a Florida man now it's the opposite. And I have seen some pretty violent punches that could kill in one punch especially if he was blindsided. Not saying that he was.
    The next few days will tell the story I hope!

  10. How has this not become a national story? Vegas is lucky that the mainstream media hasn't noticed this violence. Bad karma, for sure.

  11. Yea he needs to go to jail for a long time.

  12. "I think just the fact that we have a recent death wave on the strip will gain some attention, but the local media here does a pretty good job at reporting things like this but then letting it quietly die off"

    I haven't heard anything about any of these murders on the national news; I also haven't seen any little blurb from the AP in the newspapers about any of these.

    Also, the local media can let things die off - or so they think. The AP and other news outlets scan for stories like this but so far - I have seen nothing. Maybe it just wasn't important enough to report on since people are murdered all over the country every day and more than 3 at a time. These stories are nothing compared to every where else.

  13. This does not surprise me. I feel saddened for the family of the Utah guy. There are still people walking around still mad about the slavery thing 146 years ago. It is still live and well and the hatered continues.

  14. One punch. Provocative words? Misdemeanor battery. 6 months sentence. 1000 dollar fine. Let the civil suit sort out the rest. Or we can house this guy for months, spend tens of thousands on his trial and watch the jury acquit him of murder. There's no way the DA can get a conviction for first degree murder here.

  15. I've been known to knock a few teeth out with a single punch (okay, I wasn't so peaceful back in my school days) but man, you gotta respect a one-punch kill shot.

    I would have to put this in the manslaughter category, not murder.

  16. @pmmart I was thinking more a long the lines of Biloxi MS.

  17. @TomD1228
    I had the same thought at first on account of so many times people get mad at me for taking a hit to improve my hand and they lost, And they feel I was responsible for their loss as if I am supposed to sit there and lose so they came win. Had anyone ever offered me my wager and the win if I don't take a hit No they don't. But yeah I almost bet that is the reason more so than the alleged racial remark. And so what if he did say that that is not justifiable. If it's so offencive then why don't those that are offended trying to stop there own people from using it.
    Hawkins should have taken the high road, Massie appeared to have walked away and was persued. Would you agree?

  18. This shows what can happen when people can't control their emotions.

  19. Punching a guy with his hands in his pockets is very bad form. I hope Hawkins does enough time to wipe that smile off his face.

  20. @pmmart
    It is agreed! Saying, "black man in a yellow shirt" SHOULD NOT be construed as a rascist comment. But, how many of us greet or address strangers by noting their color or ethnicity? If you bumped into a person on the street would you say, "Pardon me, Asian man" or "Excuse me, European or white lady"? No, I don't think you or anyone else would preface a statement or question to someone else by mentioning the person's racial heritage or makeup.

    Whenever I greet and/or have an initial encounter with someone, I use the terms "Sir", "Ma'am", young man, young lady (and sometimes "buddy" or "dude"); how awful (and inappropriate) it sounds to say, "Good morning, young Native American man" or "Hi, Latina lady" (oops, I think latina and lady are redundant... both referencing 'female').

    In any event, if the precious young man who lost his life had NOT said anything at all (considering the environment and the activity), this would be the most prudent choice. But, since he did speak, he should have never alluded to the man's ethnicity or color... that was MOST INAPPROPRIATE and unnecessary. I am not attempting to justify nor condone Mr. Hawkins conduct - after all, a human life is lost... and for NOTHING!

    My prayerful condolence to the Massie family.

  21. So a "racist comment" entitles a black to kill the White man who (allegedly) made it? What nonsense! If you will look at the obituaries in the Ogden (Utah) Standard-Examiner, you will find Mr. Massie's. He was a U.S. Air Force veteran of the Gulf War, having earned three Bronze Stars. Numerous people posted comments to his family, telling them what a special friend he was to them and how sad they are at his murder. I know nothing about Hawkins or his life up to that night in the casino, but what he did was the act of a murderous thug. There are no two ways about it.

  22. murderous thug? one punch? did u make that statement because Hawkins is black? there have been many one punch fights where someone died. many of u are making assumptions without knowing all the facts no need to share ur ignorance.