What Do We Know About Dave Chappelle Being Attacked at One of His Shows?

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Last week, actor and comedian Dave Chappelle was attacked by an armed man while on stage during a performance in Los Angeles. New details about his assailant and possible motives for the attack have recently surfaced, so read on below for everything known about the attack so far.

What happened?

On May 3, Dave Chappelle was performing at the Hollywood Bowl following the release of his new Netflix special The Closer. During the show, a man rushed onto the stage and attacked Chappelle. The man was not holding a weapon when he rushed Chappelle, but was found afterwards to be in possession of a replica handgun containing an ejecting knife blade.

Chappelle’s security team immediately restrained and detained the man, injuring his arm and face in the process. He was briefly taken to the hospital for medical treatment before being taken to jail.

Is Chappelle okay?

Luckily, Chappelle’s security detail was on the ball, and the only injuries sustained in the process were to the attacker himself.

While Chappelle was not seriously injured, his attorney has stated that he wants the attacker charged with a felony. According to LA’s District Attorney George Gascón, however, the attack wasn’t consistent with a felony and will only result in a misdemeanor.

Who was the attacker?

The attacker has since been identified as 23-year-old Isaiah Lee. Lee appears to be mentally ill and is currently receiving mental health services. Lee has no criminal history of violence, which could somewhat help him during the legal proceedings.

Lee has been charged with four misdemeanors, including battery, possession of a weapon with intent to assault, unauthorized access to the stage area during a performance, and commission of an act that delays an event or interferes with a performer. His bail is set at $30,000.

What were his motives?

A police investigation of the incident revealed no clear motives for the attacker, but LAPD allowed Chappelle to visit Lee in the room where he was being held and Chappelle apparently received some insight.

According to Chappelle, Lee told him a story about his grandmother, who was forced to leave her neighborhood in Brooklyn because of gentrification. Chappelle said that the attack seemed to be an effort to draw attention to Lee’s grandmother’s story. If that was his motive, it’s unknown why Lee would choose Chappelle specifically for the target of this attack. 

A dangerous precedent

Following this incident, some comics are concerned for their safety and worry that there’s a growing precedent of comics being attacked on stage. The incident between Will Smith and Chris Rock at the Oscars last month is another alarming recent example.

Gascón has stated that LA “will ensure that safety measures are taken to protect performers so that Los Angeles can continue to be a hub for music, comedy and other artistic performances in this country.” Gascón has announced plans to host a roundtable to discuss heightened security measures at concert and event venues.

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