Steve May 4, 2022

Dave Chappelle was attacked onstage on Tuesday night after a man ran up and tackled the stand-up comedian during a performance at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles.

In video posted to social media, a man can be seen running onto the stage before leveling Chappelle as security officers race to intervene.

The Los Angeles Police Department confirmed the incident, telling NBC Los Angeles that man had been armed with a replica gun that could eject a knife blade when discharged correctly. It was unclear if he made an attempt to use the weapon.

The suspect, identified as Isaiah Lee, 23, has been charged with felony assault with a deadly weapon, an LAPD spokesperson said Wednesday. Lee’s bail is set at $30,000.

The LAPD said Lee had been in the audience prior to the attack, then jumped on stage and attacked Chappelle just as he was about to leave the stage. The comedian was performing at the “Dave Chappelle and Friends” show, which was part of the Netflix Is A Joke Festival.

Security guards hired for the show intervened and pulled the suspect off the comedian, before detaining him, police said. They said Lee sustained superficial injuries during the altercation and was taken to a hospital following the event.

Chappelle was not injured in the attack, they said.

Brianna Sacks, a BuzzFeed News reporter who attended the show and witnessed the altercation, told NBC News she was left stunned after the suspect “charged and tackled Chappelle.” 

She said both uniformed security workers and people in plainclothes appeared to rush to Chappelle’s aid and had started “kicking and punching” the suspect in an assault that went on for several minutes. 

She said Chappelle later continued the show, joking about the altercation. “It was a trans man,” he remarked, according to The Hollywood Reporter. (The gender identity of the attacker was not immediately known.)

But the incident appeared to have left some audience members in shock. “We all kind of stood there frozen,” Sacks said. 

One social media user who attended the event, Jed Simon, applauded Chappelle for returning to the stage, calling him a “great sport.”

Sharing video of Chapelle’s return as fans cheered, he said actor Jamie Foxx had also ran up on stage from his seat during the incident.

Sacks said Chapelle had referenced how he has had to ramp up his security after facing widespread backlash for his jokes about the transgender community.

It is unclear why the suspect attacked Chappelle and police have yet to release his identity.

In video shared by Sacks, a man can be seen being loaded into an ambulance via a stretcher as onlookers jeer.

Sacks said she saw the suspect being loaded into an ambulance after the show. She said he appeared to have been badly beaten.

Sacks compared the incident to comedian Chris Rock being slapped onstage by actor Will Smith at the Oscars on March 27. Rock had also performed at the Hollywood Bowl on Tuesday and she said he had joked about the incident before Chappelle was tackled.

She said Rock had also come onstage after the attack and joked about the suspect “maybe being Will Smith. You know, they were like, ‘is that Will Smith?'”

“I think it just shows, like, the reality for comedians right now,” she said.

Celebrities have already begun to weigh in on the incident, with comedian Tony Baker saying in tweet early Wednesday “that’s what he gets” over the suspect sustaining injuries in the altercation.

“This attacking people on stage ain’t gon fly,” he said.

Representatives for Chappelle and the Hollywood Bowl did not immediately respond to requests for comment from NBC News.

Chantal Da Silva

Chantal Da Silva is a breaking news editor for NBC News Digital based in London. 

Andrew Blankstein is an investigative reporter for NBC News. He covers the Western United States, specializing in crime, courts and homeland security. 

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