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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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