Lawyer for Victim in Neo-Nazi Case Exploring Suit Against Hotel, Nazi Historian

The Ritz-Carlton in Manalapan: an unlikely place for a neo-Nazi stabbing.
The Ritz-Carlton in Manalapan: an unlikely place for a neo-Nazi stabbing.
Flickr: paolinipix

The stabbings that occurred October 26, during a presentation by a Nazi historian at the Ritz-Carlton were a one-sided affair, it seems. That is, Christopher Nachtman stabbed John Kopko -- multiple times. And now the attorney for Kopko suspects that the Palm Beach State Attorney's Office is considering a charge against Nachtman for attempted murder.

"It was unprovoked and Mr. Kopko was unarmed," says Lee Levenson, the Boynton Beach attorney representing Kopko. "We believe he was trying to kill Mr. Kopko -- right in front of (Kopko's) family."

Levensen denied reports that the fight was an outgrowth of tension between two rival skinhead groups -- Volksfront and the Confederate Hammerskins. Pressed to offer a theory about what made Nachtman attack, Levenson said:

"I think the guy's just a nut job -- I think you have to be to just attack someone like that and nearly stab them to death."

Kopko, a Palm Beach County resident, was helicoptered away from the scene and nearly died from loss of blood. That figures to strengthen the possible case of attempted murder against Nachtman, who brought a knife -- as well as a gun that was found outside the hotel -- to the event.

But some of the blame for what happened, says Levenson, belongs to that event's speaker: David Irving, a Holocaust denier who in the days following the attack was quick to distance himself from Nachtman.

A source who wrote to Juice yesterday reported that on the contrary Irving expressly invited Nachtman, in hopes of getting his book prominently displayed at Nachtman's store.

Given the neo-Nazis' love of the Second Amendment and their propensity for violence, it seems as though Irving should have planned for a metal detector, or at least a much larger security presence.

"He publicized that he had a vetting system, based on his events being a lightning rod for violence," says Levenson. But it's clear that Irving's security measures -- like changing the location at the last moment -- were designed to foil protesters. It seems he paid less attention to his own followers.

"His vetting system was inadequate," says Levenson, of Irving.

The attorney also has questions about the hotel's security presence: "We're investigating the possibility of a civil matter for inadequate security with regard to the Ritz."

Finally, for those on the hunt for irony, the answer is: No, Levenson is not Jewish. He acknowledges that for some, it may be hard to find a good guy in this story -- even if his client was the victim. "Everybody deserves representation," says Levenson. "Whether you like (Kopko's) views or his politics, this (stabbing) was uncalled for."

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