A senior moment at the Wheeler
ASPEN ” Not typically a venue that sees a lot of fistfights, Aspen’s Wheeler Opera House lobby was recently the site of brawl between two senior citizens waiting in line to watch a French love story on the big screen.
And now the alleged victim, Gaston Alciatore, 65, is desperately looking for witnesses to back up his story that Greg Lewis, 61, sucker-punched him in the face shortly before “I’ve Loved You So Long” ” an Aspen Filmfest movie ” began rolling inside the Wheeler.
Alciatore, of Aspen, took out an ad in Saturday’s Aspen Daily News asking for witnesses to the Sept. 27 “incident” to call him. But his phone number was misprinted by the newspaper, and another ad ran in Wednesday’s edition with the correct number.
The case is a classic “he said, he said,” in which both parties have vastly different versions of what occurred that Saturday night.
But one fact is certain ” Lewis, of Basalt, was served a summons by the Aspen Police Department on Oct. 3 for assault and battery, and disorderly conduct.
He has been ordered to appear in municipal court on the misdemeanor charges.
Alciatore filed a police report two days after the incident, claiming he was standing in line with his wife when he accidentally brushed up against Lewis, who apparently didn’t appreciate the invasion of his personal space.
“I brushed him with my shoulder, which I have in a sling because it’s broken,” Alciatore said. “He started screaming at me and we traded obscenities.”
Alciatore said he turned to his wife and then out of nowhere, Lewis allegedly threw a punch. His fist landed below Alciatore’s glasses. A scuffle ensued and Alciatore ripped Lewis’ sweater. When Alciatore woke up the next morning, he said he had a black eye. He went to police on Monday, Sept. 29.
Aspen officer Kyle Murray investigated the incident and interviewed Lewis, who told him that Alciatore elbowed him in the kidney while he was standing in line. A series of pushes back and forth followed before the fight was broken up by people standing around them. Murray contacted witnesses and determined that Lewis was the aggressor.
However, Lewis has a different version of what happened and plans to fight the charges. He retained Snowmass Village attorney Arnie Mordkin on Monday.
“Our version of the facts are very different than this man’s,” Mordkin said, declining to get into specifics of what happened. “My client is not very anxious to get this in the paper and I’m not too anxious to talk about it.”
But Alciatore is and is hoping others are.
“I would love to find someone who saw it,” he said. “I’m going to sue his ass if I can find some more witnesses.”
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Max Weintraub has been senior curator at the Aspen Art Museum since January 2019.