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Dave Chappelle attacked by man with knife during Hollywood Bowl show

Venues beef up security after man attacks Dave Chapelle on stage 02:38

Comedian Dave Chappelle was attacked onstage while performing at the Hollywood Bowl Tuesday night.

At about 10:40 p.m., cell phone video showed a man storm the stage and tackle Chappelle, who fell to the ground.

Security immediately swarmed the suspect, chased him behind the stage and arrested him. The man was armed with a replica handgun which contained a knife blade, Los Angeles police confirmed.

"I'm thankful that there was no serious injury to anyone involved, but I'm significantly troubled by the weapon that he had, the knife that he was able to get through security," LAPD Chief Michel Moore told CBSLA.    

Dave Chappelle attacked by man with knife during Hollywood Bowl show
A replica handgun containing a knife blade which a suspect was allegedly carrying when he attacked comedian Dave Chappelle onstage at the Hollywood Bowl on May 3, 2022.  (LAPD)

Brianna Sacks, a reporter for BuzzFeed who was at the event, told CBSLA that the 48-year-old Chappelle had finished his stand-up set and returned to the stage to introduce rappers Mos Def and Talib Kweli when the attack occurred.

"The guy got to the back of the stage and they were kicking him and beating him up, it seemed like for a good amount of time," Sacks said. "Chappelle was definitely shocked and was making jokes about it as it was going on. It was very chaotic, people were pretty stunned." 

Sacks said actor Jaime Foxx was among those who joined in the backstage scuffle.    
Following the attack, Chappelle, who was not seriously hurt, again returned to the stage with several comedians, including Chris Rock. Video showed Rock joking to Chappelle, "Was that Will Smith?", in reference to the actor slapping Rock on stage at the Oscars back in March at the nearby Dolby Theatre. 

Police said the suspect was taken to a hospital before being arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon. He was identified Wednesday as 23-year-old Isaiah Lee of Los Angeles. He is being held on $30,000 bail.

Sacks took video of the suspect on a stretcher. People can be heard booing him as he is loaded into an ambulance. The nature of his injuries was unclear. His arm appeared to be dislocated and his face battered. 

"The thing that caught my eye immediately was that the gentleman was wearing a backpack," witness Rachel Crain said of the suspect. "That's what got me scared, my mind immediately went to: 'This guy is wearing a bomb.'"     

There was no word on a motive. Last October, Chappelle drew sharp criticism for "The Closer," a stand-up special released on Netflix in which he made a series of transphobic remarks. On Tuesday night, he even told the crowd he had been forced to hire more security since then.   

Tuesday's event, "Dave Chappelle and Friends," was part of the Netflix Is A Joke festival. Chappelle performed at the Bowl several times over the past week with comedians such as Bill Burr and Jeff Ross. 

Meanwhile, the attack has many venues scrutinizing not only the Hollywood Bowl's security, but their own.

"We pray to God it stops, but right now, we have to start hiring extra security," Laugh Factory owner Jamie Masada said Wednesday.

Masada said that audience members have rushed the stage believing that Smith's attack on Rock has emboldened others. 

"Will Smith did it," said Masada. "There (are) no consequences."

Carla Sims, a representative for Chappelle, released a statement Wednesday which read:

"The performances by Chappelle at the Hollywood Bowl were epic and record-breaking and he refuses to allow last night's incident to overshadow the magic of this historic moment.

"Dave Chappelle celebrated four nights of comedy and music, setting record-breaking sales for a comedian at the Hollywood Bowl. This run ties Chappelle with Monty Python for the most headlined shows by any comedian at the Hollywood Bowl, reaching 70k fans of diverse backgrounds during the first Netflix Is A Joke: The Festival, and he refuses to allow last night's incident to overshadow the magic of this historic moment.

"As unfortunate and unsettling as the incident was, Chappelle went on with the show. Jamie Foxx and Chris Rock helped calm the crowd with humor before Chappelle introduced the last and featured musical guests for the evening, hip-hop artists yasiin bey
and Talib Kweli, a.k.a. Black Star, who performed music from their new album – the first in nearly 24 years – which was released on Luminary. Other special comedic guests last night included Earthquake, Leslie Jones, Jeff Ross, Sebastian, Jon Stewart and Michelle Wolf."

Simms said Chappelle is fully cooperating with the active police investigation into this incident.  

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