UNIVERSITY WIRE – A University of Montana student remains hospitalized after he was repeatedly stabbed over a game of beer pong last weekend.
Collan J. Sheppard, 23, has been charged with felony assault with a weapon and is being held on $50,000 bail. Sheppard, who is from East Glacier, Montana, stabbed Jerry Brady Stewart in the abdomen and the arm, puncturing an artery after the alleged disagreement, according to court records.
The incident occurred around 1:00 a.m. Saturday morning at 1117 Cleveland Street, where a party was being held and several people were playing beer pong in the basement.
UM sophomore Brenna Gibson − a member of the household − said Sheppard became angry with her over a “house rule” − a rule observed by some who play the game that depends on the household in which the game occurs.
“Because Collan had been being aggressive with me, Brady [Jerry Stewart] stepped in and told him to calm down because it was just a drinking game,” Gibson said.
According to Gibson, Sheppard, who was visibly drunk, turned to Stewart and asked if he wanted to step outside. That’s when the night got ugly.
“Witnesses at the party said the argument escalated between Sheppard and Stewart and a physical fight started,” court records state.
Gibson, however, said she saw Sheppard holding what looked like a folding knife before the two even made physical contact.
“He had the knife out before he got over to Brady,” Gibson said, and added that she saw Sheppard come at Stewart and back him into the corner by the basement door as partygoers rushed in to pull him off.
After everyone drew back, she said she saw that Stewart was already bleeding from a large gash in his stomach.
“Brady was up against the wall holding in his intestines,” Gibson said.
UM sophomores Tawni Guisti and Hannah Hindman, who also live at the house, said Stewart’s wounds began to bleed out immediately, forming a pool of blood on the carpet.
Sheppard then rushed out of the house accompanied by his brother, Jorel Sheppard, a UM student, before other partygoers began to head out, according to Hindman and court records.
With Stewart bleeding on the basement carpet, Gibson managed to keep him awake while staying on the phone with 911.
“He was a trooper,” Guisti said. Several hours after the incident, Sheppard turned himself into Missoula police. In his appearance in Missoula County Justice Court, Sheppard’s attorney, Lance Jasper, said he had reason to believe his client, who has no previous criminal record, acted in self-defense.
Deputy Missoula County Attorney Jason Marks said he believes the eyewitness accounts offer no backing to such a defense.
“If the initial investigation looked like it was self-defense, we wouldn’t have charged him,” Marks said.
Though some rules vary between different households, beer pong is typically played on a table with pyramids of ten cups partially filled with beer set on opposite sides.
Each player takes a turn shooting a ping-pong ball into one of the other player’s cups.
The rule prompting the night’s incident stemmed from a “bounce back” rule, where, if played on a ping-pong table with an upright net, the opponent can shoot the ball again if they catch it after one bounce on his or her side of the table.
If convicted, Sheppard could face up to 20 years in prison.