MMA fighter moonlights as costumed superfighter on Seattle streets
Undefeated amateur MMA fighter Ben ‘Flattop’ Fodor, brother of Strikeforce Caros Fodor, was arrested early Sunday morning in Seatlle while wearing his Phoenix Jones superhero costume. After training,Jones ducks into a comic store in civilian clothing, goes into a secret back room, and emerges as ‘Phoenix Jones.’ Clad in a bulletproof vest, stab plates and armed with a Taser night stick and Mace, this Seattle superhero prowls the night in search of villains to call the police on.
Instead of the bad guys, it was Seattle’s most prolific self-styled superhero that ended up in handcuffs.
Police officers arrested the 23-year-old man who calls himself Phoenix Jones early Sunday after he was accused of assaulting several people with pepper spray. He was booked in county jail on four counts of assault, with arraignment set for Thursday, police said Monday.
Jones, who wears a black mask with yellow stripes and a bulging muscle bodysuit, said he was only trying to stop a street brawl.
“Just because he’s dressed up in costume, it doesn’t mean he’s in special consideration or above the law. You can’t go around pepper spraying people because you think they are fighting,” said Seattle police spokesman Det. Mark Jamieson.
In capital letters, Jones wrote on his Facebook page that said he wouldn’t “ever assault or hurt another person if they were not causing harm to another human being.”
He also released the video above shot during the alleged assault, which he said shows that he used the spray after being attacked.
Jones was accompanied on patrol by a second superhero, known as Ghost, videographer Ryan McNamee, and Milwaukee-based writer Tea Krulos, who is writing a book about real-life superheroes.
Krulos told msnbc.com that the entourage definitely came across a brawl.
“Six or seven guys were beating up two other guys,” Krulos said, adding he heard “loud, aggressive noises.” One victim was thrown to the ground and kicked in the ribs. “Two other guys were wrestling with each other but not in a playful way — and people were screaming.”
“Nobody was dancing, it was not ambiguous, there was definitely fighting,” he said.
“I was on the phone calling 911 and a guy came up to me and punched me in the face; Ryan was also punched,” Krulos said.
Two women who were apparently girlfriends of attackers punched Phoenix Jones after they were caught in the pepper spray cloud, Krulos said. Jones appeared uninjured, he said.
Jones and his group ran to the nearby waterfront Washington ferry terminal to seek shelter as members of the group that was fighting followed, Krulos said. Two from the brawling group hopped in an Escalade, followed Jones, and threw stones at him, Krulos said.
The Escalade pulled under a nearby viaduct as two patrol cars pulled up, he said.
Krulos said he and the videographer were not allowed to give statements to officers.
The often shaky video shows Jones and Ghost running toward a group of people. Jones said there was a fight in the group. Police said there’s no indication there was a fight.
The footage goes on to show Jones breaking up the group. Then a woman screams at him, hitting him with her high-heel shoes. Jones appears to be holding his pepper spray canister. Moments later a BMW car appears and speeds away on the street, almost hitting an unidentified man. Jones chases after the car to get the license number. A person with Jones is heard calling police to report a hit-and-run.
Jones and his followers then approach the rest of the group down the block. A woman screams at them to “stay away.” Another woman runs up to Jones and hits him, screaming at him, “You sprayed f—— pepper spray in my eye!”
Two men in the group approach Jones, who then appears to pepper spray them.
Jones has been the most public face of a group of vigilante crime stoppers to show up in Seattle in the last couple of years. His exploits have garnered much media attention, and he’s had a camera crew trailing him in recent months.
Peter Tangen, a volunteer spokesman for Jones, said Monday that police didn’t have any interest in the alleged hit-and-run, but rather have an agenda against the masked crime fighter.
“They’re on a mission to stop Phoenix Jones from what he’s doing, which is legal,” Tangen said.
On the police report, the officer wrote that Jones “has had a history of injecting himself in these incidents. Recently there have been increased reports of citizens being pepper sprayed by (Jones) and his group.”
The report goes on to say that although Jones “has been advised to observe and report incidents to (police), he continues to try to resolve things on his own.”
Jones in an interview on Seattle radio station KISW blamed his arrest on one officer who doesn’t like him and denied any wrongdoing.
“I’m never gonna pepper spray a group of people for dancing,” he said. He added that he didn’t respond to the assault by the woman with the high-heel shoes, claiming she delivered 38 blows to his head.
“I don’t touch women,” he said.
Police weren’t buying his Phoenix Jones handle, however. He was booked under Benjamin John Francis Fodor. Authorities are also keeping his suit, at least for the time being.