It was a brutal beat-down. Justin Lancaster, his wife and two friends celebrated New Years Eve at the Capitol Pub and Hot Dog Company in Des Moines, when he and his friend were jumped by several guys on the outdoor patio. Some they knew, others they didn’t.
Lancaster says he tried to break up the fight. “I said, we’re not going to do this here. So he goes after him, I try to get in between them. At that point I get grabbed by the shirt”
That’s when Lancaster was hit the first time–shattering his nose.
Then he’s hit again. This time with a beer bottle.
Lancaster says, “I remember getting up off the deck once and looking at one of the guys that started the fight and saying something like, ‘you hit me,’ or something to that effect, and I got hit again and I don’t remember anything after that.”
Kris Lancaster, Justin’s wife said, “(It was) probably the scariest thing I’ve ever seen. All you think of is, he wasn’t responding. All I could think about was my kids.”
As Lancaster lay unconscious, his friend was knocked to the ground and pummeled. He got up, staggered, and is sucker punched by the guy with the beer bottle, then hit and kicked some more.
Inside, that victim’s wife is attacked by several women. The fight is broken up, and then the unexpected; She says a bartender sprayed her with a fire extinguisher.
Angie Avila-Ramirez says, “I was covered, could not see, could not breathe. The minute I got outside I started getting sick.”
That bartender could later been seen throwing shot glasses into the crowd. Lancaster, meanwhile, covered in blood, was taken to the hospital.
He said he had, “Two facial fractures. My nose was broken. I have a one inch scar under my eye from where the bottle opened up my face. I had blood in my urine from bruised kidneys.”
They reported the attack to police, but then did some cyber sleuthing of their own, posting pictures of their attackers on Facebook from security video they got from the bar.
Lancaster says, “This week it just kinda went viral as far as a lot of people have seen it and one person passed it to another, passed to another person, passed to another person”
Police say it helped them identify some of the attackers.
Sgt. Chris Scott with the Des Moines Police Department said, “This was a useful tool to in our investigation to reach out to potentially a thousand or more people.”
The Lancasters say, their amateur detective work will pay off, when these thugs are behind bars.
They say, “We did the right thing. I mean, I wasn’t going to just sit back and wait for somebody else to do it”
No one has been arrested yet, but police say they are talking with suspects and witnesses. They stress, even with evidence as strong as this, sometimes it takes time to build a case against someone.