WENATCHEE — A Port Angeles man who works in Sequim is recuperating in Wenatchee from a head injury after he was assaulted with a rock July 21 at the Gorge Amphitheater.
Joe Allen Jr., 46, a certified nursing assistant at Sequim Health & Rehabilitation, was one of two men hit by rocks — one each — at a Phish concert that drew about 20,000 music fans to the popular Quincy music venue.
A gofundme page created by Allen’s friend Raymond Ahrendt of Grand Rapids, Mich., said Allen had swelling in the brain, nine staples in the back of his head, a fractured skull and that he was unable to walk on his own.
The other injured man was Samir Poles, 38, of Colorado who was hit in the face, authorities said.
Allen was in satisfactory condition Tuesday in Wenatchee Valley Hospital, a hospital spokeswoman said.
The hospital is a rehabilitation facility.
Poles has been discharged from medical care.
Kyle Foreman, a Grant County Sheriff’s Office spokesman, said Tuesday that the agency’s major crimes unit is continuing to investigate the attacks as assaults but know little more than they did two weeks ago when the assaults occurred.
Foreman said there is no evidence that the assaults are bias crimes despite the presence, at the concert, of men with Swastika tattoos indicating they were white supremacists or Nazis, and suspicions among concert-goers that the victims, both of whom are black, were targeted.
Foreman said that some of the band members are Jewish. Founding band member Jon Fishman grew up with a Jewish family and, as of 2011, an estimated third of the fans at Phish concerts were Jewish, according to a 2011 article at https://tinyurl.com/PDN-Phish.
Foreman said two men with the Nazi tattoos who were interviewed by authorities did not appear to be involved in the attacks.
“No bias gestures and no bias speech was heard during either one of the assaults,” Foreman said.
“Until we can establish who the suspects are to find out what their motives were, it’s difficult for us to classify it as a bias crime.”
Foreman said Allen was “blindsided” in the back of the head by a rock that appeared to be thrown.
Poles was hit in the face with a rock that appeared to be held in someone’s hand.
Foreman said Allen and Poles were separated by several hundred feet during the concert when they were attacked, and they don’t know each other.
Authorities said they don’t know if the rock that hit Allen in the back of the head was thrown or was wielded by an assailant who was standing behind him.
“We haven’t received word that anyone saw the attack,” Foreman said.
“We located people who were nearby who heard a commotion and saw the victims were injured but could not provide details on suspects, and no one stepped forward.”
Ahrendt posted an update Friday.
“Last Monday Joe moved into a rehab facility in Wenatchee,” Ahrendt said.
“Since then he has been working hard every day for multiple hours on his rehab. He is still in pain but has begun to take a couple steps.
“He is feeling constant pain in his fingers up his arms to his spine. I believe he said his Ulner nerve got compressed from the incident. They won’t know the end results of the damage until the swelling has gone down.”
Detectives continue to ask witnesses or anyone with knowledge about the attacks to contact the Grant County Sheriff’s Office at 509-762-1160, or [email protected]
Family and friends have created online financial campaigns for both men with Allen receiving support from 1,000 people on gofundme and 3,400 shares as of Tuesday.
“As you can imagine, all of this adds up and anything we can do as a community to help Joe would be greatly appreciated,” Ahrendt wrote.
To read more or support Allen, visit gofundme.com/fundraiser-for-joe-allen-jr.
Ahrendt seeks $50,000 to help Allen with medical expenses and has reached $29,525 as of Tuesday.
One of Poles’ campaigns for $16,000 was already met, and the second one for $30,000 was at $23,323 on Tuesday at gofundme.com/sos-support-our-samir.
Poles’ site includes a photo of himself, his mouth bloodied and a front tooth knocked out, and had 1,800 shares as of Tuesday.
Allen, a father and longtime CNA, has worked at Sequim Health & Rehabilitation about a year, said Paige Bendixen, director of nursing at the facility.
“He’s an excellent worker and much loved by residents and staff,” she said.
Allen’s coworkers continue to support him, too.
“When employees have a tough time, people donate time off and for Joe he won’t have any of that time come out of his pocket. That’s showing how beloved he is here.”
Paul Gottlieb is a senior staff writer at Peninsula Daily News, part of the Olympic Peninsula News Group. He can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].
Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Sequim Gazette, part of Olympic Peninsula News Group. He can be reached at [email protected] gazette.com.