A 13-year-old boy in Montana is recovering from temporal skull fractures after a man allegedly assaulted him for not taking off his hat during the national anthem.
The alleged attack happened Saturday at the Mineral County Fair and Rodeo’s entrance.
Witnesses said that a few moments after the national anthem began to play, a man later identified as Curt James Brockway grabbed the teen and slammed him on the ground.
Taylor Hennick told the Missoulian she was pausing for the anthem when she heard a “pop.”
“There was a little boy lying on the ground,” she said. “He was bleeding out of his ears, seizing on the ground, just not coherent.”
According to court documents, the 39-year-old suspect said he initially asked the boy to remove his hat for the anthem and the boy responded by cursing at him, according to The Associated Press.
However, the same document also quotes a witness who told investigators they did not hear Brockway ask the kid to take off the hat.
Megan Keeler, the boy’s mother, said she had just dropped her son off at the fair when she received a phone call informing her about the incident.
“Dude come up and grabbed him by his neck, picked him up and threw him to the ground head first,” Keeler told local station KPAX TV. “He doesn’t remember anything. All the witnesses I have talked to said this was completely random. There was no exchange ― nothing!”
The boy was taken by ambulance to a local hospital for initial treatment before being flown to a children’s hospital in Spokane, Washington, according to the Missoulian.
Keeler told KPAX TV that blood came out of her son’s ear for nearly six hours after the incident. The boy told the station he remembers nothing about what happened, adding, “It’s just a lot of pain in my head.”
The boy has since been released from the hospital and is back home.
The 39-year-old suspect was arrested Saturday night and charged with assault of a minor. Although prosecutors recommended bail be set at $100,000, he was released on his own recognizance on Tuesday.
Brockway is a registered violent offender who was convicted of assault with a weapon in 2010 and given a 10-year suspended sentence, according to The Associated Press.