The details were fuzzy: Was Bam Margera of Jackass fame bashed on the head in the wee hours with a pipe or a baseball bat? Was the basher a neighbor of his West Chester club who was mad about the noise? Did he really call her terrible names? Or was it a stunt for his reality show that features inane behavior?
What happened Saturday morning outside The Note nightspot was no stunt, police said Monday. Elizabeth Ray, 59, who lives behind the club, is charged with aggravated assault and other offenses in the beating of Brandon "Bam" Margera, the 30-year-old skateboard phenom and MTV celebrity. He was briefly hospitalized with what his mother described Monday as a severe concussion.
The injuries were enough to send Margera to Crozer-Chester Medical Center, where his mother and sometime costar, April Margera, said he was in intensive care for most of Saturday. But not enough, she said, to keep him from getting a doctor's permission - as long as he doesn't overdo it - to fly out to Hollywood where he is frantically rewriting the ending of his next movie, Jackass 3-D.
"I begged him not to go," April Margera said Monday. "But I understand that millions of dollars were at stake."
Her famous son was found lying on his stomach in the middle of South Matlack Street in his native West Chester about 2 a.m. Saturday, bleeding from a gash on the left side of his head, police said. He was just around the corner from The Note, the nightspot he co-owns.
Margera was not only conscious - he was mad, according to the criminal complaint filed against Ray. The complaint quoted Margera as saying repeatedly, "Why did you hit me, you crazy b-?" and "I pay your rent."
That wasn't the worst of it, according to a neighbor who said he witnessed the episode. Michael Jamal Jackson - who said he attended West Chester East High School with Margera - said he was less than a block away and heard Margera direct racial epithets at Ray before the blows were struck.
"[T]he next thing you know, she cracked him over the head," Jackson said Monday.
The complaint said the weapon was either a bat or a pipe.
Jackson said Ray - "Ms. Liz," he called her - had complained repeatedly about noise from crowds that gather outside after the club closes. He said walls that The Note had installed to lessen the noise don't make much difference.
West Chester Police Chief Scott L. Bohn said The Note had not generated a disproportionate number of complaints about noise or disorderly conduct.
April Margera said Ray had had past run-ins with her son and had even punched him in the face about a year and a half ago. Why wouldn't that show up on Ray's record, which includes convictions for assault, robbery, and disorderly conduct? "He didn't want to press charges," April Margera said.
She said she believed her son and his co-owner had given Ray money in the past in an effort to appease her.
For her part, Ray, who shares her home with her mother, said Monday that her lawyers had instructed her not to speak with reporters.
"All I'll say is, my mother has owned this house for 60 years and she will not be disturbed," said Ray, who is free after posting $10,000 unsecured bail.
Lauren Petitti, who works at a hair salon on the corner between Ray's home and The Note, said Ray had her hands full taking care of her aging, ailing mother.
"She probably just took it out on the wrong person," Petitti said. "She gets no help with her mom, and she's in that house all day long."
Margera, who left high school to prove that gross-out high jinks equal box-office gross, has been on one side or the other of myriad brushes with local authorities.
In 2003, a Chester County judge ordered footage of a naked 15-year-old boy deleted from a popular Margera skateboarding video. Later that year, West Chester police made arrests after a Margera crew filmed a 32-year-old man urinating out the third-floor window of a downtown parking garage. (And then there was the 2004 incident in Pocopson Township, where Margera's pals got in trouble for doing something horrible to a Hummer.)
In 2004, Margera's request to stage a parade in West Chester was denied - but two years later he insisted he could exercise restraint, and filmed an arrest-free parade sequence for a Christmas special in the borough. By the end of 2008, he invested in The Note and became a West Chester entrepreneur.
His mother, who has appeared on TV with Margera (his latest show: Viva La Bam), said she and her husband, Phil (another costar), are flying to Los Angeles on Thursday to find out what their role in their son's latest movie will be.
She said she has talked to the producers and told them that in light of the concussion, the kind of over-the-top MGM-like finales that her son relishes are off-limits.
"He can't do what he was supposed to do, but I don't even know what that was," she said Monday. "We never find out what we're doing until he tells us to do it."