The 27-year-old Portland man charged with stabbing another patron during a concert Sunday at the State Theatre told police he used a small nail file on his key chain as a weapon after he was pushed by another patron near the stage.

Joseph Lewis faces one count of aggravated assault, a felony, and was ordered held at the Cumberland County Jail during a brief first appearance Wednesday in Cumberland County Unified Criminal Court.

Bail was set at $2,500 cash, or $1,000 cash and an agreement to abide by a set of conditions and monitoring by the state.

The victim, a 29-year-old from the town of Norway, suffered one puncture wound about a half-inch long in his back and is expected to make a full recovery.

The alleged assault occurred after a series of exchanges between Lewis and a small group of people whom Lewis did not know. Members of the group told police after the attack that they saw Lewis earlier in the night and he seemed to be “creeping” or “lurking” near them and making them uncomfortable, according to witness interviews summarized in police reports.

Members of the group told Lewis to move along a number of times, but he returned and was elbow-to-elbow with a woman in the group when the victim turned around and noticed him.

The victim told police that he then stepped between Lewis and the woman. Lewis then pushed against the victim, and the victim moved his weight into Lewis with his hips, according to police.

The victim said he then felt a punch to his back, according to police. When the victim touched his back it was wet and he saw he was bleeding.

Lewis fled the theater and walked home to his apartment on Marginal Way, he told police.

While Lewis was leaving the venue, a theater security staffer heard him say something about a stabbing inside, although the security worker had not heard anything about the incident over the venue’s two-way radio system.

According to police, Lewis walked into the police station Monday evening after he saw a photo posted on Facebook that showed someone who looked like him behind the photo’s subjects. The poster said the person who resembled Lewis was responsible for the stabbing.

Lewis said he was trying to get closer to the stage to take video of the band when he exchanged words with someone in the group, who told him to move along “or we could take it outside,” according to a police report.

When he tried again to get closer to the stage, he exchanged words with the group and someone threatened to beat him up, Lewis said.

When he returned a final time to the stage, he encountered the group again.

“Lewis said he had a nail file-type instrument attached to his key chain which he took out and exposed the nail file,” Detective Rick Beaumont wrote in a summary of his interview with Lewis. “He said he went up to them and was not planning on using it but wanted to scare them the way they had scared him. Lewis said one of the males then bumped into him and (it) was at that point using his right hand (Lewis) pushed the nail file into the male’s back.”

Lewis said he fled the theater and walked home, and on Monday threw the nail file away in a trash can while he was thinking about what to do.

After he was arrested at the police station, officers obtained a warrant to search Lewis’ apartment, where they found his clothes from Sunday. Investigators also found the nail file, but they did not indicate in court records where it was located.

At his court appearance, Lewis, in a yellow jumpsuit, stood and spoke briefly with his attorney, Stephen Shea. Because aggravated assault is a felony, Lewis must be indicted by a grand jury before he enters a plea.

Police were initially called to the venue shortly after 11 p.m. Sunday as a concert by a California group, Dirty Heads, finished its set. Police met the victim in the venue’s lobby before he was transported to a hospital for treatment.

Police and security at the State Theatre ushered the roughly 1,800 people out of the building as investigators searched the crowd for the suspect.

Lewis has no criminal record in Maine, according to the state Bureau of Information, which tracks criminal histories statewide.

The State Theatre’s general manager, Lauren Wayne, said staff members are cooperating with police, and that the same security measures were in place Sunday as at all shows there.

Staff members at the theater search patrons’ bags and scan them with a handheld metal detector before they’re allowed to enter.

Matt Byrne can be contacted at 791-6303 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: MattByrnePPH

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