The story dominating Baton Rouge headlines instead of LSU's football season opener zigzagged in several different directions Thursday, one week after the initial incident that has turned into a powder keg.
Throughout a busy day, a story of an earlier non-related incident at the players' West Campus Apartments hit the early news cycle, the Baton Rouge Police Department's preliminary report on the fight outside Shady's Bar surfaced, an unfounded rumor popped up that senior quarterback Jordan Jefferson was about to be arrested and an Associated Press story that provided noteworthy discrepancies in the BRPD report was unveiled in the evening.
Woven into all that, news broke that one of the alleged victims – U.S. Marine Andrew Lowery – had a restraining order served against him by a former girlfriend who was at Shady's the night of the fight.
LSU coach Les Miles met briefly with the media after the Tigers' practice, in large part to address the announcement that junior inside receiver Russell Shepard has been ruled ineligible for at least the Sept. 3 season opener against Oregon.
But Miles also touched on the ongoing imbroglio surrounding his program as it prepares with nine days left until it faces No. 3-ranked Oregon at Cowboys Stadium in what has been the most highly anticipated LSU opener since 2007.
"I think our team is trying to take one step at a time and do the right things," Miles said. "They've come to practice with a good attitude and they're fighting like hell to get things right. But they're people and it will take some time."
Jefferson turned 21 Thursday and practiced as usual. Miles wouldn't comment on whether the two-year starter was still the Tigers' No. 1 QB, saying "I think it's speculation at this point that we're going to play anybody."
Pressed on the topic moments later, Miles said "Just to be clear, I said speculation at this point and time would do any good."
Miles seemed in better spirits than his last two sessions with the media, but he didn't hold back when he was asked if was worried about all the negativity swirling around creating a bad image of the LSU program.
"I am very much," he said. "I think through time, you'll find that this thing will play out effectively and you'll see it's really the same group of men that work hard and want to represent LSU extremely well and that are facing some issues that are not just described in the start of every season. I think you'll find these guys will handle that. It will a piece of time that will mark them and then it will make them stronger.
"The core of our team hangs together and it's a tight-knit group and they're people who care for each other."
Miles also talked about a June incident reported in The Baton Rouge Advocate in which redshirt sophomores Sam Montgomery and quarterback Zach Mettenberger had a gun pointed at them.
Two men were detained that night after a gun was discharged and Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore III said he will seem charges against them. Neither Montgomery nor Mettenberger were harmed or charged in the incident.
"I knew all about it," Miles said. "I investigated it very thoroughly and understood what happened. Those people that were involved I'm told were detained and certainly our guys were victims in that issue entirely."
Initial BRPD report
The initial incident report from the Aug. 19 bar fight was released to several media outlets Thursday, including TigerSportsDigest.com, and painted a dismal picture for the LSU players allegedly involved.
Filed by Officer Strong, the report details the fight outside the bar and states that Lowery was aiding another man who was being beaten by several people – reportedly including LSU players. The most damning evidence in the report is that Jefferson kicked Lowery in the head.
A female witness, Victoria Long, said Jefferson kicked Lowery when he was on the ground. Attorney Michael Bienvenu said Lowery was knocked unconscious and suffered contusions to his head, nose and hands.
However, both witnesses testimony came after Strong had left Shady's briefly to search for LSU football players at another local bar. Only when the officer returned did Lowery speak to Strong to implicate Jefferson and sophomore linebacker Josh Johns – saying they "punched and kicked (him) several times."
Long contacted Strong later and she corroborated Lowery's account and said the altercation began when another man yelled from his truck to a move a vehicle blocking his way. She said 10 people attacked the driver of the truck, pulling him out of his vehicle.
She also told Strong that after Lowery helped the man, the group attacked him and were joined by five more men – she said all appeared to be LSU football players and she could "identify them through pictures if needed."
A few hours after the interviews with Lowery and Long, Strong contacted Long, who told him Lowery was at home sleeping. It wasn't clear if the two were at the same location.
Another wrinkle emerged during the day when it became public that Lowery was issued a restraining order from former girlfriend Elizabeth Siadous.
Siadous' petition for protection alleges abuse the night of Aug. 18 and accuses Lowery of cursing and yelling at her, cornering her in the bar and striking a female friend of hers.
Bienvenu took issue with the restraining order, telling reporters from The Advocate that it was an "orchestrated attempt to malign and discredit" Lowery.
Perhaps the most notable twist of the day came when an AP story presented a much different side of the fight than that found in the police report.
New Orleans-based AP reporter Bret Martel spoke to Shady's general manager John Peak and door manager Jordan Neldare, and said Lowery triggered an incident inside the bar before the brawl ever broke out in the parking lot.
Lowery was asked to leave the bar around 1:30 a.m. for harassing a young woman, the AP report states. He complied with the bar management's request to leave, but Peak and Neldare say Lowery then threw the first punch outside.
Neldare was outside and witnessed the fight. He said he has not been interviewed yet by BRPD investigators.
BRPD spokesman Sgt. Don Stone was aware of the fight inside the bar, but refuted any connection to what happened outside.
"We did hear he had an altercation with his girlfriend in the bar and that he left the bar without incident," Stone said. "That has nothing to do with ours (investigation), nothing at all."
Neldare went on to tell Martel that a fight begun by Lowery had started before the truck stopped in the street.
The door manager also stated that he saw Jefferson, standing by himself and looking upset while the fight was still taking place.
"I'm not saying (Jefferson) wasn't in the fight," Neldare said. "I'm not saying he was, but I did see him standing alone while stuff was still going on."
Lowery and Jefferson were near each other in the bar and again outside when Lowery was being escorted out and neither time was there a word spoken between them, Neldare said.
Stay tuned to TigerSportsDigest.com as we follow the various angles of this story on Friday and beyond.
A busy day of twists and turns
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