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Details of deadly bar fight emerge

Details of deadly bar fight emerge

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A College Station man charged in the death of a Rice University basketball player told police that he didn't intend to kill anyone when he tried to fend off attackers punching and kicking his friend, according to court documents.

Ronald Andrew Johnson, 23, remained jailed late Friday in lieu of $200,000 bail after being charged with murder in the stabbing death of Jonathan Bailey. The fight outside a Northgate bar early Thursday left Bailey's twin brother, Janson, hospitalized with injuries that were not life-threatening.

Court records show that a friend of Johnson's, Mike Fuller, also was beaten during the drunken brawl that erupted just before 2 a.m. outsideV-Bar, in the 100 block of College Main. Fuller and Johnson are both in the U.S. Marines.

Police said Friday that Fuller had not been charged in connection with the incident.

While Fuller is mentioned in court documents from College Station police, department spokesman Lt. Mark Langwell said he couldn't confirm Fuller's involvement or even that he was injured. Fuller was not mentioned in a press release sent out by the department about the incident.

According to court documents, Fuller told police that he was kicked and punched by a group of people that included the Bailey brothers and that his injuries were so severe that both of his eyes were swollen shut. Fuller was treated at College Station Medical Center and was released.

When questioned by the police, Johnson said he was intoxicated at the time of the fight, which started insideV-Bar, according to documents. He said he did not recall making "contact" with anyone with his knife.

According to police, Jonathan Bailey, who was a sophomore guard for the Rice Owls, suffered a deep puncture wound to the left side of his chest and a six-inch gash to the chest. His brother suffered two stab wounds to the chest.

Johnson told police the ordeal started shortly before closing time, court documents state. According to the reports, Fuller was in line at the bar when Janson Bailey was "humping up on his leg." Fuller then pushed Janson Bailey, who in turn punched Fuller in the face, the documents state.

After Fuller was kicked out of the bar, Janson Bailey told police, he left to apologize.

But instead, witnesses told police, the two men began fighting again. The fight eventually spilled into an alley behind the bar, where Fuller was apparently kicked in the face and the Bailey brothers were stabbed by Johnson, according to court documents.

Johnson told police that he left with his friend and returned to an apartment in College Station where, Johnson told police, they washed his pocket knife in a sink, according to documents. Police later found Johnson at the apartment because officers found Fuller's credit card at the bar, where he had opened a tab, police said.

According to police records, Johnson initially denied involvement in the stabbings but eventually told police, "I'll be honest with you. Yes, I did."

Business as usual

On Friday it seemed like business as usual at Northgate - the popular strip of bars across the street from the Texas A&M campus.

The beginning of the Easter weekend meant a quieter than usual night, but a few people meandered in and out of bars.

The doors at V-Bar were open Thursday, the night after the stabbing, but an employee at a neighboring bar said business seemed slow there. On Friday, the lights at V-Bar were on, but curtains were pulled as workers inside appeared to be slowly opening up shortly after 9 p.m.

The manager of the bar did not return phone calls placed by The Eagle.

Assistant Police Chief Scott McCollum said he doesn't expect the recent stabbing to drastically change the atmosphere or attitudes on Northgate. He said he's seen an overall decrease in crime on Northgate recently and credits a 2004 ordinance banning open containers of alcohol outside Northgate bars.

Before the ordinance, the misdemeanor and felony crimes committed at Northgate had skyrocketed, and police warned city officials about the at-times chaotic environment at Northgate.

"We saw a significant decrease after passing the ordinance," McCollum said. "But the ordinance wouldn't prevent a murder from occurring. These types of crimes occur for their own reasons. They take on a life of their own. In this situation, a fight escalated to the point of someone getting stabbed and someone getting killed."

Despite the death, which is the first homicide of the year in College Station, McCollum said he is confident that Northgate is safer than ever.

"Northgate is a nicer place to go," he said. "The point was to reign in some of that chaos that was happening out there, and I think we've done that."

V-Bar, which is owned by Dallis Bros. Inc., has been reprimanded by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission the past three years for selling alcohol to minors and selling beverages during prohibited hours.

McCollum said he didn't know the reputation of the bar or if it is known for fights. But, he said, fights, assaults and even killings can happen just about anywhere alcohol is served.

Past problems in or near Northgate include a fatal stabbing at Hurricane Harry's in 2003, a felony assault at Dixie Chicken in 2003 and two separate aggravated assaults at Mad Hatters and Dudley's Draw in 2005 and 2006

"You can't really say V-Bar is different than any other bar," he said. "Alcohol is a common factor at all of them. It's more of a factor of the individual and what an individual is capable of. The thing is, you don't know who you are dealing with."

• Laura Hensley's e-mail address is laura.hensley@theeagle.com.

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