Friday, May 27, 2005

"Gimme Shelter" Stabbing Case Finally Closed
More than 36 years after a fatal stabbing at a Rolling Stones concert at the Altamont Speedway near Livermore, authorities have finally closed their investigation.

Investigators have dismissed a theory that a second member of the Hells Angels motorcycle gang was involved in the stabbing of an 18-year-old man at the concert in December 1969. The incident gained legendary status after it was included in the documentary "Gimme Shelter."

Alan Passaro, a Hells Angels member who was hired by the Rolling Stones to provide security at the concert, was arrested for fatally stabbing 18-year-old Meredith Hunter.

Jurors acquitted Passaro, saying they believed he acted in self-defense because Hunter was carrying a gun and had pointed it at the stage where the Rolling Stones were performing. Passaro died in 1985.

In the years since, however, investigators had been looking into rumors that a second person actually inflicted the fatal wounds.

At the time the incident occurred, many people were shocked by the violence. The concert, which was promoted as a West Coast Woodstock, was free and drew 300,000 people to see the Rolling Stones as well as Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead.

Early on, however, it became clear that the general sense of peace and fellowship that pervaded the Woodstock event was missing from Altamont. When the stabbing incident occurred, the Rolling Stones were performing but had been forced to abandon a number of songs because of scuffles in the crowd. In the documentary, Hunter can be seen emerging from the crowd just feet from the stage brandishing a gun. A number of Hells Angels, who had been hired for security, jumped from the stage and Passaro stabbed Hunter in the back.

Yesterday, a spokesman with the Alameda County Sheriff's Department said the office has performed an exhaustive investigation over the last two years. He said investigators used new technology to determine Passaro acted alone in the stabbing.

Story created 5/26/2005 - 11:15 AM       Last updated 5/26/2005 - 1:27 PM  

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