Police arrest man accused in caught-on-video sucker-punching of Venice boardwalk performer

Local news

A suspect has been arrested in a random assault on a 61-year-old street performer caught on video in Venice over the weekend, officials said Wednesday.

Marco Harger, 45, of Los Angeles, has been identified as the man seen sucker-punching John Gavert as he danced on the Venice Beach Boardwalk Sunday afternoon, the L.A. Police Department said in a news release.

Harger was arrested Tuesday and booked on suspicion of battery causing serious bodily injury, police said.

Cellphone video of the incident on the 500 block of Ocean Front Walk shows the man identified as Harger walk past Gavert before swiftly turning around and punching him in the face. Harger then left the area.

Gavert is later seen on the ground being tended to as he holds his head. Police say he lost consciousness and was hospitalized with serious injuries.

The victim told KTLA Tuesday he used to worked in the insurance industry but now “lives to perform,” as bringing others happiness has eased his long-term depression.

“I didn’t deserve this to happen,” Gavert told KTLA. “I was disoriented and I fell on the ground. I couldn’t do anything about it.”

Investigators are still working to determine a motive for the attack. Gavert said he wonders if it could be related to a minor disagreement he had with other street performers the day before.

LAPD says Harger was living in one of the homeless encampment at the boardwalk, near where Gavert was assaulted.

The area has been a hotbed of controversy this week, with L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva sending deputies into LAPD jurisdiction and vowing to clear encampments from the boardwalk.

The same day that Gavert was attacked, a homeless woman with a knife was arrested at a campaign stop by a mayoral candidate, who was calling the city out for its response to the homeless crisis.

The sheriff says city officials have failed to adequately address the situation, though city officials have said their hands are tied in moving any faster.

Some say a law enforcement crackdown won’t do anything to address the root issues.

“He didn’t call to offer services or housing, which would help,” City Councilman Mike Bonin, whose district includes Venice, said in a tweet Tuesday. “He went on a PR blitz, promising his own notorious brand of justice. To anyone familiar with Villanueva and LASD, that’s incredibly ominous.”

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