KIROTV.COM - People in Oak Harbor are wondering if a secret fight club is responsible for a series of alcohol-fueled brawls that left one man dead and others in the hospital. At least four people have been hurt in fights near bars and restaurants in the Whidbey Island town recently.
Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks said the severe injuries caused by a recent run of bar fights caught his eye. "If people think that you can't be killed from a fist fight, they're wrong," Banks said. A memorial stands where 23-year-old Chris Cooper fell after a fatal altercation at a nearby bar. Tyson Boon was punched outside a downtown restaurant in September.
The married father was flown to Harborview Medical Center with a fractured skull and brain hemorrhaging. "He is slowly getting better. We're starting to see our old Tyson back again but he's still not completely healed," said his mother, Joan Boon. At least four serious assault cases have been filed in the last three months. Banks said officers have heard rumors that a local fight club may be pushing men to pick bar fights.
Witnesses aren't backing it up, but some people involved are amateur fighters. "Some people are taking it from a fantasy idea of being a martial arts champion to actually getting themselves in fights," Banks said. Banks is asking police and bar owners to work together to tackle alcohol over-service and outside crowds at closing time. Bar manager Jason Youngsman welcomes the help.
"When people see police in the bar to do a walk-through or check the place out, it tends to stop some of the problems," Youngsman said. Banks said service members from the naval base haven't been involved in the fights, but he does suggest the Navy blackball the troubled bars to hit them in the wallet. Youngsman said that's unfair and unnecessary.