A New York state senator and his wife were attacked and beaten at a Seneca Nation casino hotel in Niagara Falls after the lawmaker tried to break up an argument between two men, one of whom accused him of hating the Indian tribe, the Associated Press reported.
Sen. Mark Grisanti and his wife Maria had been attending a fundraising gala for the Seneca Diabetes Foundation Friday when he noticed two Native American men looking like they were about to fight, according to the New York Post. Grisanti approached the men and tried to diffuse the situation.
"He basically asked who I was, in a certain fashion. And I didn't answer him. And he asked again, and I said, "I'm Mark Grisanti. I'm a New York state senator. And he made a comment like, 'You haven't done [blank] for the Senecas,' and then punched me in the rib," Grisanti, a Republican whose district includes Niagara Falls, told Buffalo's WIVB-TV.
According to the Post, Grisanti was also told he was "no [blanking] good. You hate the Indians!" The senator was then punched in the side of the head.
When Maria Grisanti tried to come to his aid, she said she was attacked by two women who appeared to be with the men fighting with her husband.
"I didn't even know what hit me," Maria Grisanti told WIVB. "All I knew is I hit the ground, I was down, with two girls on top of me who straddled me, picked me up by my head and just kept continuously slamming."
The senator walked away without serious injury, but his wife ended up with a concussion and bruising around her face.
Mark Grisanti said the men who attacked him left without being being detained. According to the AP, Niagara Falls police Superintendent John Chella said detectives were "reviewing the situation and investigating any and all facts to determine what exactly took place." He added that "once the facts are determined," police will decide "what course of action to take, if any."
In a statement, Seneca Nation President Robert Odawi Porter expressed regret over the incident and said he hoped Maria Grisanti would recover quickly.
"I would hope for better behavior and conduct from everyone at such an event as this, although it transpired sometime after the gala ended," he said. "Sadly, one cannot control individual behavior."
According to the Associated Press, the Seneca Nation has been in conflict with state lawmakers over issues related to its sovereignty, including revenue from tribal casinos and its right to sell cigarettes without collecting state taxes.
Grisanti said he doesn't blame the tribe for what happened, saying they've always had a good relationship.
"It was just a very strange night," he said.