Three Seneca eye-witnesses present during the wild Casino brawl Friday evening that resulted in the hospitalization of Buffalo State Sen. Mark Grisanti’s wife gave a sharply different account of incident than the Buffalo senator.
The eye-witnesses, who appeared Sunday evening on the Buffalo AM radio show “Let’s Talk Native with John Kane,” a weekly program that covers Native American issues, said that Grisanti’s aggressive behavior sparked the fight – and that Grisanti had to be restrained three times during the ensuing melee.
“There’s no one innocent who took place in this thing,” said prominent Seneca businessman Ross John, an eye-witness, who appeared on the show along with his brother, Robbie, who was also present for the melee. “Everybody is to blame for their own actions.”
Both brothers said they were not drinking at the time of the incident.
According to John, and backed up by two other witnesses, Grisanti, his wife, Maria, and his daughter – who had performed earlier in the night at a black-tie fundraiser at the Seneca Niagara Casino – were having a drink at the casino bar when two Seneca men got into a heated argument nearby.
Grisanti , who was half-way down the bar, stepped into the argument and escalated a situation that seemed to be calming, according to John.
“Basically it was over with, and there needed to be no other sticks thrown on this fire,” John said. “He started insisting on, ‘Do you know who I am,’ almost like he was the new sheriff in town.”
At that point, according to John, Grisanti got into a profanity-laced shouting match with the men – and put his hands on one of them.
Grisanti has said that he was merely telling the men not to make a scene – and was then punched in the head and the back of the ribs.
Grisanti also has said local politics had played a role in one man attacking him, telling the Buffalo News that one of them looked at him and said, “’You haven’t done [blank] for the Senecas,’ and then he punched me in the ribs.”
But all three witnesses who appeared on last night’s radio show say the brawl did not appear to have any political undercurrents.
According to John, a number of people then tried to restrain Grisanti, and his wife, seeking to intervene, “raked her nails” across the face of a Seneca woman. The woman then started beating Maria Grisanti, giving her a concussion and a badly bruised nose.
“That’s when hell broke loose,” John said. “That’s when she got taken down.”
Maria Grisanti told the Buffalo News she came over to see what was going on with her husband, and was not was absolutely sure what happened after that, but “remembers one woman grabbing her with both hands around her throat and neck. “
Mark Grisanti was then restrained by a security officer during the ensuing brawl, according to John, but was able to “bull rush” Eric White — one of the men who initially had had heated words at the casino bar, which had prompted the entire incident. The man’s wife, Kristina, ended up bearing the brunt of Grisanti’s attack, according to John. That claim was repeated by Eric and Kristina White in today’s Buffalo News.
Grisanti has told the Buffalo News that he did battle with security officers, to get away and help his wife, and did push some people.
“I don’t remember punching anyone, but I did some arm swings trying to get some people off her,” Grisanti told the paper.
A Seneca woman — who shot a cell phone video of the final five minutes of the brawl — also appeared at the end of the hour-long show and corroborated the account of Ross John and his brother.
“Grisanti was the one who really interrogated and instigated a lot of what happened,” said the woman, whose full name was not stated.
Casino footage of the incident has not yet been released to the public.
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