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Bar patron has part of his ear bitten off in an attack

Chuck Biedka
| Tuesday, July 26, 2005

A case of mistaken identity might have led to a man walking into Carnivores bar in Oakmont and chewing off part of a patron's left ear, the establishment's owner said Monday.

Thomas David Kurta, 27, of New Kensington is charged with aggravated assault, terroristic threats, criminal conspiracy for the assault and threats, and public drunkenness, police said.

Kurta was taken to Allegheny County Jail late Friday, police said. He later was released on bond pending a preliminary hearing, according to arraignment court.

Dennis Moore, 28, of Oakmont was treated for the ear bite and other injuries at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh and released.

Neither man was available for comment Monday.

According to a police affidavit, a man known only as Chris was talking with Kurta when he pointed out Moore in the crowded bar.

Police said Kurta walked to Moore and started to repeatedly head butt him about 10:45 p.m. Friday.

Witnesses heard Kurta yelling, "If you want to hit someone then hit me."

Kurta then allegedly threatened Moore by claiming he was packing a gun and would shoot Moore in the head. Then he pushed and punched Moore, police said.

According to authorities, the two eventually began rolling around on the floor when Moore screamed, "He bit my ear off!"

Carnivores owner John Keefe said the alleged attacker wasn't a patron.

"It was a case of mistaken identity," Keefe said.

He said less than 10 minutes earlier an unidentified woman had accused Moore of jostling her. The unnamed woman yelled and pointed at him, then slapped the victim, who was a regular patron eating with his girlfriend and another friend, Keefe said.

The woman was thrown out, but returned, police and the bar's owner said.

"She came back 10 minutes later and she was told to leave. As she did, the other man walked right to the man and started on him," Keefe said.

"It took three police officers to get him off the man and they had trouble handcuffing him," Keefe said.

Police Chief Rob Moyer said the incident might have been connected to a later disturbance in the parking lot shared by Carnivores, another bar around the corner and several restaurants.

"A patron walked to his car and got in, but five men pulled him from the car," Keefe said.

"The man was punched in the eye and bitten in his forehead," Moyer said.

That victim refused to file charges or identify who hit him, so no arrests were made in that case, Moyer said.

Both Keefe and Moyer think said the later assault might be related to the earlier one.

Keefe said his establishment also is a victim of the incidents.

"This was out of our control. We couldn't do anything about it," he said. "I've worked nine years to make this a nice place."

Keefe said the last disturbance happened about three years ago and that he works hard to contribute like other businesses to the usually quiet community.

"And now we're a victim of an act of lunacy by one man."

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