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Five nabbed in Clinton park beating stabbing

Violence erupted Saturday afternoon in Dan Porter Park when four men beat another man with tree limbs, causing him to stab one of his assailants, apparently in self-defense.

The incident began in a Clinton restaurant when four men, Jonathan D. Baker, 21, Kyle G. Gauthier, 18, Nathan W. Berger, 21, and Mark Stephens, 18, were playing pool and invited a fifth man, Kyle J. Hall, 22, to join them. The five are South Whidbey residents.

According to report filed by the Island County Sheriff's deputies, the five men then left the restaurant together to "hang out and drink beer" in Dan Porter Park.

A statement to deputies by Hall alleges that Gauthier, Berger, and Stephens beat him with tree limbs while Baker "grabbed his arms from behind."

In the report, Hall says he attempted to escape but was overcome and knocked down by the four men. Hall said he was knocked to the ground with his face in the water and he covered his head as the four continued to beat him with tree limbs. Hall said he was in fear for his life and did not think he would leave the park.

Hall told deputies he remembered he had a knife and "grabbed my knife and swung it at the first person I could reach, Gauthier."

At that point the four apparently backed off and Hall was able to pick up his belongings and head down a trail to the Park and Ride adjacent to the Clinton Post Office.

Hall said Baker and Berger caught up with him in the parking lot and began beating him again. Hall stated he fought back and Baker grabbed Hall's necklace and ripped it from his neck and took Hall's baseball cap.

Hall told deputies he fled on a Island Transit bus, which he took to his Langley residence. Baker, Berger and Stephens had caught the same bus at Deer Lake Road and were on board when Hall boarded at State Route 525 and Storkson Street. They all apparently traveled without incident on the bus.

Hall stated that Baker held up his necklace on the bus, flaunting it.

Island County Sheriff deputies responded to a 911 call at 3:45 p.m. from Gauthier who was in front of a Clinton video store following the incident in the park.

Gauthier told deputies that he and his friends had met Hall at the Clinton restaurant and later went to Dan Porter Park. Gauthier stated to deputies that Hall freaked out and stabbed him in the leg causing his friends to "jump him."

A subject fitting Hall's description was detained at the ferry dock by the Langley Police Department and transported to Gauthier's location for possible identification. The person detained was not the suspect.

Hall was located at his home in Langley and taken back to the scene by deputies to walk through the scenario. He was later taken to Whidbey General Hospital before being booked in Island County Jail on second degree assault for stabbing Gauthier in the leg.

Baker, who was wearing Hall's necklace, Berger and Stephens were arrested at a home in Ledgewood.

Gauthier was taken into custody at 7:12 p.m. during a traffic stop at Marshview and Highway 525 in Langley. Gauthier was taken to Whidbey General Hospital and treated for a stab wound, before being arrested and booked on a first degree robbery and second degree assault. Gauthier signed a criminal complaint for assault against Hall.

The four men were arrested and booked on first degree robbery and second degree assault. Baker, Berger, Gauthier and Stephens all requested attorneys at the time of their arrest.

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