A rock concert, a paralyzed fan and a mystery


Brian Cross, a 23-year-old Essex auto parts worker, went to a rock concert at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia June 29 -- and ended up paralyzed, his neck broken.

A month later, Mr. Cross' lawyer, his family, Merriweather Post officials and Howard County police still are trying to find out what happened.

Mr. Cross' Towson attorney, Dennis Psoras, says Merriweather Post security guards broke his client's neck while hauling him out of the show, but he refuses to allow interviews of people who he says witnessed the incident.

Merriweather Post officials say their private security personnel did nothing wrong, and they refuse to discuss details of the incident.

Howard County police say they are investigating, although no formal complaints have been filed.

And Mr. Cross, known for showing his elaborate tattoos in national and international competitions, lies in the Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, in serious but stable condition, paralyzed from the neck down, his family says.

"We love our son, and we're all supporting him," said his mother, Geraldine Cross. "But doctors said he may never walk again. I'm praying for him."

Mr. Cross was one of about 5,000 people at the June 29 concert by the heavy metal bands Biohazard, Sepultura and Pantera, which he attended with some friends.

There are conflicting stories about what happened after he arrived at the show.

The only official record of the incident appears on two emergency medical assistance reports filed by county police, who called an ambulance for the injured man.

According to those reports, Officer Michelle Denton and Cpl. Robert Wagner, who were on duty outside the pavilion, saw Mr. Cross being carried out of the concert by Merriweather Post security guards about 8:30 p.m. "The guards exited the main gate, lowered him close to the ground and dropped him onto the ground," said county police spokesman Sgt. Steve Keller.

The injured man told the officers he had been drinking and that his memory of the incident was sketchy, the emergency reports say.

Mr. Cross told the officers he had been tossed about in the "pit" area of the pavilion -- an area in front of the stage with no seats -- and that he might have hit his head.

Mr. Cross was taken to Shock Trauma with a broken neck.

His lawyer contends that two unidentified Merriweather Post security guards broke Mr. Cross' neck while ejecting him from the show.

In Mr. Psoras' first version, his client was taking part in a practice known as "floating," being passed hand-to-hand over the heads of the audience toward the stage.

The lawyer said that as Mr. Cross was being passed toward the stage during a Sepultura performance, two security guards grabbed him by the neck and upper shoulder, breaking his neck.

Four of Merriweather Post's private security guards then carried the limp Mr. Cross outside the pavilion and left him there, Mr. Psoras said.

Mr. Psoras said Mr. Cross was not intoxicated at the time.

In a subsequent interview, Mr. Psoras said Mr. Cross was no longer floating at the time the guards grabbed him.

As of yesterday, Mr. Psoras had not talked to Merriweather Post about his client's injury, and no criminal complaint or personal injury suit had been filed.

And Mr. Psoras, who publicized Mr. Cross' injuries on the 98 Rock radio station, has persuaded witnesses not to discuss details.

Jerry Andrzejewski of Pasadena, one of the witnesses, refuses to confirm or deny Mr. Psoras' version of the events.

"I was told by [Dennis Psoras] not to say anything. All I can say is that it wasn't right," Mr. Andrzejewski said of the incident.

Merriweather Post officials also refuse to discuss details, even as they reject Mr. Psoras' assertions.

"By all reports we have, Merriweather Post [employees] handled themselves in a professional manner," said Jean Parker, Merriweather Post's general manager, who has interviewed witnesses and the two guards allegedly involved.

NB Ms. Parker said only that Mr. Cross was "evicted" from the con

cert, that Merriweather Post's medical staff treated him for an unspecified injury and that he was taken from the site by ambulance.

She refused to give the names of the security workers accused of breaking Mr. Cross' neck, saying that each had been on the staff for four years and that they have not been disciplined.

Some who attended the show with Mr. Cross say they were separated from their friend early in the evening and were unable to say how he was injured.

Others say many in the crowd took part in the floating cited by Mr. Cross' lawyer but that they do not recall seeing Mr. Cross.

Mark Howard, 26, said he was seated near the front of the pavilion and that fans were relaxed until after the first few songs of the band Biohazard, which opened the show.

"Then things got out of control," Mr. Howard said.

Mr. Howard said several people were passed above the heads of concertgoers and that others dived from barricades in front of the stage into the arms of other fans.

"So many people were doing it," Mr. Howard said. "You can't control where you're going to go sometimes. People are grabbing and pulling. If people landed over the barricade, they were taken out. A lot of people got thrown out."

Greg Ferguson, a 32-year old software engineer from Timonium, said he watched security guards roughly eject one man from the pit area. Two guards pulled the man from the concert area and up the adjoining hill, Mr. Ferguson said. Two other guards then joined the group and "wrestled him to the ground."

Whether the man was Mr. Cross cannot be determined.

A month later, Mr. Cross remains in the hospital. Before his

injury, he had just returned from a trip to Europe, where he competed in displaying the tattoos that cover his body.

Those tattoos include an elaborate illustration on his back that depicts Mr. Cross sitting next to a gravestone beneath a fiery sky. Hands reach up from the earth, grabbing at Mr. Cross's feet, and the gravestone reads: "Here lies the tormented soul of Brian Cross."

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