Bar stab victim’s lawyer: Was attack coordinated?


Local attorney David Carter has repeatedly reviewed the surveillance video of his client, 26-year-old Mason Haynes, being stabbed in the back in the wee hours of New Year’s Day at Grind + Grape, the popular wine bar on Bougainvillea Lane, just off Ocean Drive.

He can’t help but wonder: Was this a coordinated attack?

“It looked like a prison shanking,” Carter said last week, when reached by phone while on a skiing trip to Utah.

He wasn’t wrong.

I’ve never been to prison, but I have seen movies in which prisoners have gotten shanked.

I’ve also watched the 10-second video clip the Vero Beach Police Department acquired from Grind + Grape and released to the news media last week.


The settings were different, obviously, but the actions bore some remarkable similarities:

One man grabs and tussles with an unsuspecting victim, who is placed in a vulnerable position, which allows another man to do the stabbing, using some type of sharp object.

And in both scenes – on the big screen and at Grind + Grape – it all happens in a matter of seconds.

Fortunately, the real-life stabbing was also recorded, having occurred just below one of the establishment’s surveillance cameras, which provided a birds-eye view of 30-year-old Michael Gaudiani II grabbing, pushing and pulling Haynes, who gets twisted and bent over with his bare back exposed.

It then clearly shows Gaudiani’s 66-year-old father, also named Michael, quickly and immediately jab something into Haynes’ lower back.

“How does he suddenly have a knife in his hand at the exact moment his son is physically assaulting Mason and bending him down?” Carter asked, referring to the elder Gaudiani, who has a home on Seagrape Lane in the Riomar section of Vero Beach.

Certainly, the way the 2 a.m. stabbing played out was at least curious, as was the Gaudianis’ decision to leave the scene before police arrived only minutes later.

The police, however, charged only the father with a felony – aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. He was released from the Indian River County Jail on Jan. 2 after posting a $100,000 bond.

Four days later, Gaudiani’s son, a Harvard University-educated orthopedic surgeon in Michigan, was charged with first-degree misdemeanor battery. He was released from jail on Jan. 5 on a $10,000 bond.

According to a police report, a Grind + Grape bartender identified the father while officers were reviewing surveillance footage that showed Haynes standing by himself at the bar when the Gaudianis approached.

“It appears that some type of disagreement takes place and words are exchanged,” the report states, adding that the father appears to be “aggressive.”

Less than a minute later, the younger Gaudiani steps into Haynes, grabs him and starts the scuffle that results in the stabbing. The police report states that Haynes “at no time strikes either male or aggresses towards them.”

Carter went a step further, saying Haynes did nothing to instigate the stabbing.

“Clearly, it was not a response to anything Mason did,” the attorney said. “Mason wasn’t doing anything to provoke it. He was being grabbed by the son when the father plunged a knife into his back.”

We can be thankful that the attack wasn’t fatal and didn’t produce any life-threatening injuries. Carter said Haynes didn’t realize he had been stabbed until he walked outside and someone else noticed the blood on his back.

Police arriving at the scene reported that they found Haynes on the sidewalk and bleeding profusely. He was taken by ambulance to HCA Florida Lawnwood Hospital in Fort Pierce.

There, doctors were initially concerned about arterial bleeding, Carter said, but while the puncture wound came close to Haynes’ kidney, it didn’t damage any vital organs.

“He spent three days in the hospital, and he still has staples in his back,” Carter said, “but this type of thing can scar you forever.”

In fact, Carter said Haynes didn’t want to be interviewed because he wasn’t comfortable talking publicly about what had happened. Instead, he retained Carter, who said he expects to file a lawsuit in the not-too-distant future but was still investigating and wasn’t ready to offer specifics.

Carter did provide details about what sparked the incident with the Gaudianis, however.

He said Haynes had not planned to go out on New Year’s Eve, but his mother and sister convinced him to go to Grind + Grape, and he arrived shortly before midnight.

“Yes, he had some cocktails,” Carter said. “It was New Year’s Eve and he was in a bar.”

Haynes began the night talking to friends who were just outside the crowded establishment, but he eventually went inside, where he started a conversation with a young woman and her sister, both of whom were seated at a table to the right of the entrance.

“Obviously, he didn’t know he was going to be stabbed, so he wasn’t paying much attention to what was going on around him,” Carter said. “But he did notice an older woman sitting in a chair near the door. He didn’t think much about it, but he said she seemed agitated.

“He later realized the older woman, who was there with her husband and son, wanted the young ladies’ table and were waiting,” he added. “At some point, Mason indicated to them that they could have the table when the young ladies left, but that they weren’t leaving just yet.”

Here, Carter said, Mason’s story gets a little fuzzy.

“The circumstances are still a little unclear on this – and I’m not sure if Mason was sitting or standing – but, apparently, the two girls might’ve gone to the bathroom and the older woman and her family moved toward the table,” Carter continued. “Mason told them the girls would be back, and that they weren’t ready to give up the table.”

The Gaudianis’ frustration led to the hostilities that followed, but Carter said he didn’t know how much time had elapsed between the table incident and the stabbing.

“But it wasn’t a single event,” the attorney said. “This all happened over a period of time.”

Carter said the younger Gaudiani confronted Haynes about the table interaction, adding that Mason said the son “invaded his space in a chest-bumping manner and became verbally aggressive.”

Haynes, however, didn’t respond or reciprocate, the attorney said.

When the attack occurred, Carter said, Haynes was caught off-guard as the younger Gaudiani grabbed him by the head and neck and slung him around, causing him to bend down.

As the video shows, Haynes quickly escaped the younger Gaudiani’s grasp, but he was unaware that he had been stabbed.

“It’s baffling to me that something like that could happen – not just there, but anywhere,” Carter said. “You get frustrated over not getting a table, so you stab someone? Thank God for the video.”

Without the surveillance footage, Carter said, the police might not have a case against the Gaudianis.

“Imagine if there were no video, or that the camera only peripherally caught the scuffle in the corner,” Carter said. “No one was paying attention, and it happened so quickly that they could’ve attacked and disappeared into the crowd. Or they could’ve argued they were standing their ground.

“Then where would we be? Where would the prosecution be?”

The video, though, enabled police to track down the Gaudianis and shows “there’s no possible way” the father stabbed Haynes while defending himself, Carter said.

As of Monday night, police had not recovered the weapon, but Vero Beach Police Chief David Currey said detectives believe they know what type of instrument was used.

“We’re not ready to release that information yet,” he said.

What we do know, however, is the way in which the weapon was used to stab an unsuspecting victim who was being grabbed by the alleged perpetrator’s son.

It’s on video.

Comments are closed.