Man punches Pacific Beach bar manager during argument over face masks

File photo: People walk in Pacific Beach without masks in June 2020.
(Pam Kragen / San Diego Union-Tribune)

The assault occurred at 701 Beach Club during Labor Day weekend


A man in a group of patrons who refused to wear face masks at a Pacific Beach bar during Labor Day weekend sucker punched a manager in an assault that was captured on video, according to the manager and police.

Bystander and surveillance videos show the assailant running up to a group scuffling in the outdoor seating area of 710 Beach Club, on Garnet Avenue, and throwing a single punch. The blow left the bar manager with a broken nose.

Tony Aversa told NBC 7 he greeted a man who asked to speak with a manager after the man and others he was with refused to wear masks — which are required under county health regulations unless patrons are eating or drinking.

“(The man) claimed our security guard had been rude — that was his initial complaint,” Aversa told the news station. “I was like, ‘I’d be happy to talk to you about it. I just need you to put a mask on — you’re literally within inches of my face right now.’”

The man didn’t comply. Instead, he pushed a bartender, Aversa said, and a scuffle ensued. That’s when another man, in the same group, ran over and punched Aversa.

“It felt like getting hit by a brick,” he recalled. “I felt my nose pop out of place.”

San Diego police said the assault — which they said stemmed from an argument over the suspect’s refusal to wear his mask — happened about 7 p.m. Sept. 5.

A GoFundMe page created on his behalf states Aversa has been unable to work and will need to see a specialist and undergo surgery. The page says he faces “a long road to recovery.”

According to the page, his time away from work compounds the financial and emotional stress caused by the shutdown and subsequent partial re-opening of businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The page includes the video of the attack and a picture of Aversa at a hospital with a bloody nose.

“This is the face of our ‘frontline’ workers fighting this battle,” the page reads.

Police said the attack is under investigation. The suspect was said to be Pacific Islander, 6 feet, 2 inches tall and 260 pounds, with brown curly hair. He was wearing a white T-shirt and shorts.