Comedy club manager: Comedian Steve Brown stoked flames before violent attack

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - By now, many across the Midlands and beyond have seen the video – a video that shows a fierce attack against a comedian that played out on-stage at the Comedy House Sunday night.

In a news conference Wednesday, Sheriff Leon Lott announced that deputies have charged 28-year-old Marvin Toatley for the attack.

"We could have had people killed. We could have had a lot more injuries than what we had," the sheriff said.

Lott said Toatley became enraged by some harmless jokes comic Steve Brown told at his expense.

"You gotta have tough skins these days. If you're going to a place like that, understand that's potentially going to happen," Lott said after mentioning he'd watched comedy several times at the club in the past.

The Comedy House's manager, Peter Hamlett, has a different take. He said Brown, the comic, stoked Toatley's flames even after guards had removed Toatley from the room.

"Sometimes, people make it all about them, and it's not all about them, and I think he's not thinking of the customers that were here – the other 136 people that were in the room – that he had the responsibility of keeping safe," Hamlett said.

WIS asked Hamlett if he believed Brown, the comic, had stoked the flames with his comments and actions before the attack.

"Absolutely," he answered.

The comic, on the other hand, has blasted the club for a perceived lack of security. It's a claim that hurts Hamlett.

"We have security people that are made up of ex-law enforcement and ex-military, and they're in plain clothes," said Hamlett.

Hamlett said one of the guards was hurt by Toatley so badly he needed a wheelchair the next day.

"And they pursued the individual outside the building with law enforcement giving instructions, so just doesn't understand," Hamlett said.

Regardless, Hamlett hopes comedians and customers will keep coming despite the viral moment. At the end of the day, Sheriff Lott says Toatley should shoulder the blame.

In a bond hearing Wednesday afternoon, Toatley was given a $65,000 bond. The sheriff, by the way, said he doesn't believe Toatley was drunk at the time of the attack.

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