A 23-year-old man has been booked into jail on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon after authorities say he tackled Dave Chappelle onstage while carrying a replica handgun that contained a knife as the comedian was wrapping up his performance at the Hollywood Bowl late Tuesday night.
After wrestling with the attacker, Chappelle broke free and continued the show as security and others sprinted from across the stage, cornered the attacker, and began beating him while members of the crowd watched, stunned.
"I am going to kill that motherfucker," Chappelle said before walking closer to the scuffle, adding, "Wait, I got to see this."
Returning to talk to his riled audience, the comedian joked, "Thank god he was clumsy," and told the crowd the attacker was "back there getting stomped."
"Where the fuck did he come from?" Chappelle wondered.
The Los Angeles Police Department confirmed that Chappelle was not hurt during the incident but that the suspect was injured during the scuffle, which occurred around 10:40 p.m.
Police have identified the suspect as Isaiah Lee, who is being held on $30,000 bail. He was booked on suspicion charges of assault with a deadly weapon at 3:36 a.m. local time, Officer Alba Mendez told BuzzFeed News, nearly five hours after being treated by medical staff outside the Bowl's entrance as fans crowded around the scene.
Mendez said authorities still do not know the motive of the attack and do not have information as to whether he has any prior offenses. LAPD also did not have any information as to how the suspect got the weapons through metal detectors.
When asked about security at the venue, the Hollywood Bowl told BuzzFeed News that they are unable to comment due to it being an ongoing investigation.
Later Wednesday, police released photos of the replica handgun, which contained a knife blade. In a statement, LAPD revealed that the suspect pointed the weapon at Chappelle during the attack.
Lee is a rapper who goes by NONAME_TRAPPER on social media, Spotify, and other platforms. He has released several albums, including one from 2020 titled "born and die in the trap," which includes a song called "Dave Chappell." In the two-minute song, he repeats “life with you niggas is a joke." On his Instagram account, which has nearly 40,000 followers but no posts, the suspect posted a story on Tuesday of him walking with a devil filter on his face. YouTube has already removed the artist's videos from its site.
The Daily Beast reported that Lee lives in Redondo Beach, about an hour away from Hollywood. In an interview with Rolling Stone, the suspect's brother said Lee was not a violent person and doesn't think he would "lash out" at Chappelle for any reason. However, Aaron Lee said his little brother has a history of mental illness and being unhoused since the age of 11.
“I don’t have anything negative to say about Isaiah. He’s a performing artist who tries to stay as positive as possible. He does have a history of mental health issues. He does take medicine. Maybe he missed out on taking his prescription. But he’s not the type to just lash out. I don’t understand,” Aaron Lee told Rolling Stone.
When asked about the song named after Chappelle, Aaron Lee said his brother did it just to get search engine hits so that more people would find it.
Carla Sims, a representative for Chappelle, said the Emmy-winning comedian "refuses to allow last night’s incident to overshadow the magic" of his historic, record-breaking performances during the Netflix Is a Joke festival.
"Dave Chappelle celebrated four nights of comedy and music, setting record-breaking sales for a comedian at the Hollywood Bowl," Sims said in a statement. "As unfortunate and unsettling as the incident was, Chappelle went on with the show."
Chappelle is also fully cooperating with the investigation.
This reporter attended Chappelle's show Tuesday night and members of the crowd had to go through security and put all phones and smart wearable devices in sealed bags.
Other big stars, including Jon Stewart, Chris Rock, Leslie Jones, and Michelle Wolf, performed before Chappelle took the stage.
Before the onstage attack, Chappelle, who has faced fierce rebuke for comments he made about transgender people during a Netflix special, joked about having more security onstage because of the danger comedians now face after Will Smith slapped Chris Rock, who also performed at the show. Toward the end of his performance, Chappelle told a story about how a man showed up at his house while he and his wife were home.
The attack was stunning to watch, and at first, it was difficult for the audience to discern what was going on. Chappelle had just ended his set and the crowd was moving toward the exits when the comedian came back onstage for an encore. He started to introduce musicians Talib Kweli and Mos Def when a man suddenly leaped up from the pit on the left side of the stage and charged at Chappelle with his head down. The comedian tried to dodge the tackle but was knocked over. The two scuffled while security sprinted from across the stage.
Once free, Chappelle moved back to the center of the stage as a crowd of people cornered the attacker in the back. The group then started kicking and punching him while he was on the ground as Chappelle, stunned, looked on and kept going with the show. At one point, Chappelle walked up closer to see the confrontation and mentioned a few times how the attacker was getting "stomped." What was jarring was how heavily people, including what looked like security, were beating the attacker. On Wednesday, LAPD said that it was "Hollywood Bowl uniformed security officers, who witnessed the incident, engaged the suspect and removed him from the victim and took him into custody."
The shocking incident brought a swarm of people on stage, including Jamie Foxx, who then took the mic and said, "Nigga, I thought that was part of the show," before trailing off. He then went on to tell the cheering crowd that Chappelle was "an absolute genius," adding, "We have to make sure we protect him at all times."
Chris Rock also came back onstage, and the two comedians joked about the attacker potentially being "Will."
In the past, Chappelle has faced severe criticism for a Netflix special in which he repeatedly joked about trans people. Netflix employees walked out and demanded that their employer remove the special. The media giant has refused to do so.
At the beginning of his set, the comedian addressed the issue, saying that he originally had nothing against trans people and wished that they had watched the entire special until the end instead of taking specific jokes out of context. But after the community tried to cancel him, he joked, that now he does have an issue with the transgender community.
As security was wrangling the man off the stage, Chappelle continued his riffs on transgender people, which he had woven into his entire set.
"It was — it was a trans man," he joked about his attacker as the crowd laughed.