There is no question that this summer’s health care reform events have been heated. But now, an event in California has even turned violent, as my colleague Teddy Davis explains below :
ABC's Teddy Davis reports: An already ugly health-care debate got even uglier on Wednesday evening when a 65-year old opponent of Democratic reform proposals had his finger bitten off at a vigil organized by MoveOn.org in Thousand Oaks, Calif.
"My understanding is that it was a supporter of health care reform who got into a confrontation with a non-supporter and the non-supporter got his finger bit off," Capt. Bruce Norris of the Ventura County Sheriff's Department told ABC News. "My understanding is that the event was organized by MoveOn.org."
"There was some kind of physical altercation because they had opposing views, I believe, on this subject of health care," Norris added. "I don't know why his finger ended up in his mouth but it was based on some kind of confrontation between the two."
ABC News has learned that the 65-year old who had his pinky bit off is William Rice. The Ventura County Sheriff's Department does not know at this time whether or not he was a local resident.
He was taken to nearby Los Robles Hospital for treatment.
The Ventura County Sheriff's Department does not have a suspect at this time and does not know whether or not the suspect was a member of MoveOn.org.
"It's considered a mayhem which is the removal of an appendage from a human," said Norris of the Ventura County Sheriff's Department. "The crime is punishable by imprisonment for 2, 4, or 8 years."
A spokesperson for MoveOn.org, a liberal advocacy group which has organized 355 "We Can't Afford to Wait" vigils around the country, expressed concern about the events that transpired in Thousand Oaks, a community which is located 25 miles from downtown Los Angeles.
"I'm trying to get details," said Ilyse Hogue, MoveOn.org's director of political advocacy and communications. "You know us: we don't condone violence of any kind."