Chris Copeland, 2 others hospitalized after stabbing in NYC

NEW YORK -- Indiana Pacers forward Chris Copeland and two women were stabbed outside a Manhattan nightclub early Wednesday following an argument in an incident that also led to the arrest of two Atlanta Hawks players, authorities said.


In a statement, the Pacers said Copeland suffered a knife wound to his left elbow and abdomen and is in stable condition. In addition, a source with knowledge of the situation told ESPN's Chris Broussard that Copeland fractured his elbow. Copeland had surgery later Wednesday on his elbow and abdomen and was in recovery, Pacers coach Frank Vogel said, adding that there is no timetable for his return.


The Pacers currently are one game out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference behind theBoston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets, tied with the Miami Heat. They have four games left in the regular season.



"We are aware that Chris Copeland was injured early this morning in New York City," Pacers president of basketball operations Larry Bird said earlier Wednesday. "We are still gathering information and will update when we know more. Our thoughts are with Chris and those injured."


A source told ESPN's Josina Anderson that the knife hit Copeland's diaphragm and that doctors wanted to clear the wound on Copeland's elbow because they thought it could be susceptible to infection. He also suffered lacerations to his left hand. Copeland likely will remain in the intensive care unit for two or three days, a source said.


The violence broke out just before 4 a.m. Wednesday outside 1Oak Club, a trendy Chelsea spot where celebs such as Justin Bieber and Snoop Dogg mingle with Manhattan partygoers.


Police said Copeland and Katrine Saltara were arguing on the street as the attacker eavesdropped and started to interfere. The dispute escalated until the suspect pulled out a knife and started slashing, police said. Copeland's driver grabbed the suspect and held him until officers arrived.


However, a source disputed the police account, saying Copeland and Saltara were having a conversation outside the club when they were approached by a stranger. According to the source, Copeland told the person he had to go, and the person took it the wrong way, then pulled out his knife and stabbed the Pacers forward in the stomach. Saltara then jumped on the attacker's back and tried to put him in a chokehold, but she got slashed.


Police say she was struck in the arm and across the breast, and was hospitalized in stable condition.


Earlier reports Wednesday said Saltara is Copeland's wife. A source, however, said they were engaged last year but are no longer, labeling their relationship as "good friends" who were hanging out at the club early Wednesday.


The second woman, who was believed to be with the attacker, also was slashed in the abdomen during the incident. She was taken to Lenox Hill Hospital and is in stable condition, according to the New York Daily News, which earlier reported the incident.


The suspect, Shezoy Bleary, 22, was in custody, authorities said. Police said charges were pending, and it wasn't clear whether Bleary had an attorney who could comment on the charges. A switchblade was recovered at the scene.


Hawks players Pero Antic and Thabo Sefolosha were arrested on charges of obstructing the crime scene, after police said they blocked officers from trying to start their investigation. The players were in town to play the Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center on Wednesday night and had arrived late Tuesday after playing a night game in Atlanta.


A source said the Hawks players were not in Copeland's party at 1Oak Club. Antic and Sefolosha were released without bail after a brief court appearance in which they were charged with obstructing governmental authority and disorderly conduct. Their attorney, Alex Spiro, said they did not commit any crime.


"They should not have been arrested. We fully expect the case to be dismissed," he said.


Antic and Sefolosha did not play Wednesday night in the Hawks' 114-111 win over the Nets.


"The events of this morning involving Pero and Thabo were unfortunate as we never want to see our players put themselves in a potentially negative situation," Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said in a team release earlier Wednesday. "We will continue to look into the facts of the incident but with the information and foundation that we currently have established, we will support them through this process. Otherwise it is a continuing legal matter and I will have no further comment."


The Hawks also released a statement from Antic and Sefolosha.


"As members of the Atlanta Hawks, we hold ourselves to a high standard and take our roles as professionals very seriously," the players said in the statement. "We will contest these charges and look forward to communicating the facts of the situation at the appropriate time. We apologize to our respective families, teammates, and the Hawks organization for any negative attention this incident has brought upon them. We are unable to provide further comment as this is an ongoing legal matter."


Antic and Sefolosha are reserves, averaging less than six points per game on a team that has locked up the top playoff seed in the Eastern Conference. Sefolosha was limping during his court appearance, and Spiro said he had been injured during the arrest. Budenholzer said he would have his ankle checked.


In Budenholzer's pregame media session, he said the Hawks do not have a team curfew and that he doesn't plan on installing a curfew policy moving forward. He repeatedly expressed support for Antic and Sefolosha.


Budenholzer was asked whether he was disappointed that Antic and Sefolosha were out after playing a game in Atlanta on Tuesday night and arriving to New York late.


"I think it's crucial that we support Pero and Thabo," the coach said. "None of us want to bring any kind of negativity, myself, Pero, Thabo, anybody. We got a great group, a great organization. They are a huge part of that, and I don't think that word [disappointed] is really in my mindset right now."


In a statement, the club disputed the police account. It said the altercation stemmed from a dispute at a public housing project about two blocks away from the nightspot.


"The incident occurred beyond the view of our security. Once alerted, the venue provided all assistance possible," the statement read.


The club did not say how Copeland got back to the front of the club on West 17th Street, where the street was splattered with blood from the altercation.


The nightclub was cited at least 10 times for altercations and four times for noise in 2014, according to data obtained by the New York Post from the State Liquor Authority.


The Pacers were in town to play the Knicks on Wednesday night, a 102-86 win for Indiana.


Vogel had planned to visit Copeland in the hospital after shootaround but did not go because Copeland was not allowed to see visitors. Vogel said Copeland would be hospitalized overnight and "probably for the next couple of days."


"Right now we are just concerned about Cope's well-being," Vogel said before the game. "Obviously it hurts to see a teammate be injured like this, but we're trying to remain focused on the game tonight."


Vogel added: "It's always a shock when you hear something like this. So it's a big shock."


Vogel said he spoke with Copeland but declined to reveal details of the conversation.


The coach was asked whether the incident would be a distraction for his team.


"Mildly but we have a pretty headstrong group," Vogel said. "So I know they're going to have Cope on their minds and have great concern for him but like I said it's a headstrong, mentally tough group and I think our focus will be good. ... If you hear something like that it hurts. Your thoughts and feelings and emotions are making sure that a family member is OK. But you got to get focused."


Paul Georgealso said before the game that he didn't think it would be difficult for Indiana to remain focused.


"Stuff is going to happen, and as professionals we have to do our job," George said.


Solomon Hill added that the team has no set curfew.


"No, we're grown men," Hill said. "So I think you don't want to try to tell people what to do on their free time. But things happen. Even if you don't have a curfew, things could happen. So everybody say a prayer for him and we look forward to him coming back."


Vogel would not comment when asked whether he was disappointed that Copeland was out at 4 a.m. He said Copeland has a good reputation in the Pacers' locker room.


"One of the best. He is very well-liked in our locker room, by our coaching staff, our organization, so we're all hurting for him," Vogel said.


Copeland, 31, a 6-foot-8 forward from New Jersey, played in 56 games with the Knicks during the 2012-13 season, his rookie year. He signed with the Pacers in 2013 as a restricted free agent and is in the second year of a two-year deal. He has played infrequently, missing 21 games since Jan. 31.


Information from ESPN's Chris Broussard, Josina Anderson, Ian Begley and Ohm Youngmisuk and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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