Hess Village brawl sends 5 to hospital with knife wounds

Five people ended up in hospital after an early morning brawl in Hess Village Friday.

Five people ended up in hospital after an early morning brawl in Hess Village Friday.

Emergency crews were called to the city’s entertainment district around 2:30 a.m., EMS Manager Carmen D'Angelo told CBC Hamilton.

Three people were taken to hospital with “lacerations to their hands and legs,” he said. Two other people got to the emergency room by their own accord, he added.

Hess was cordoned off by police tape well into the morning as investigators tried to piece together what led to the altercation on the street. Hess Street was closed at King, George and Main streets for hours.

“At this time it is unknown what the circumstances were around the incident,” Const. Debie McGreal-Dinning told CBC Hamilton.

Laura Scott works in Hess Village, and saw what she called an "alcohol fuelled" fight break out where about 15 people were screaming "racist things" at one another.

"One guy got bludgeoned and another guy got stabbed," Scott told CBC Hamilton. "He was bleeding pretty profusely from his head."

"He definitely wanted nothing to do with the police."

This is the first time paramedics have been called about fights in Hess Village this year, D’Angelo said. “We have had these kinds of incidents throughout the years,” he said. “The call volume there increases as the weather gets warmer.”

Scott refuted the notion that Hess is a place where violence is commonplace. "The actions of a few discredit the business practices of everyone on the street," she said.

A city bylaw puts the onus on Hess Village club operators to retain at least 10 special duty police officers for the area from May to October each year. The owners in Hess pay into a collective fund to hire the officers to the tune of around $180,000 a year — a number some say isn't sustainable.

Dean Collett — who is one of the owners of Sizzle/Koi and Diavolo — is going to court in an attempt to strike down the city's paid-duty policing cost policy in the downtown Hamilton entertainment district.

Progress on the case has been slow. Collett’s lawyer Michael Puskas says the matter has been transferred between a number of legal officials at the city.

“It will take a few weeks, I assume, before we can take any productive steps,” he said.