Music News

Stabbing at Country Thunder in Florence Leaves One Critically Injured

A verbal altercation between patrons of Country Thunder in Florence early this morning turned bloody, resulting in one man stabbed and another taken into police custody.

According to media coverage of the stabbing, deputies from the Pinal County Sheriff's Office descended on the scene of a spat that was occurring between two different parties after receiving calls at around 5:30 a.m. on Saturday. What they found was reportedly the aftermath of a violent encounter that had escalated out of control.

An unnamed 36-year-old was the victim of stab wounds to his rib cage and upper back and was airlifted to Scottsdale Memorial Hospital from Canyon Moon Ranch, the location of the annual four-day country music festival. He reportedly underwent emergency surgery earlier today and has been described as being in critical condition.

Pinal Country Sheriff's deputies arrested 20-year-old Austin Hansen in connection with the stabbing. He was charged with aggravated assault and disorderly conduct and booked into a Pinal County jail. Per the Sheriff's Office website, Hansen was released after posting a $5,000 bond.

Brian Andrews, producer of Country Thunder, told and other media outlets that while the safety of patrons is a "primary concern" for the concert's organizers, sometimes altercations and other incidents happen that are out of their control.

"The festival has become a city of over 22,000 people with 5,100 individual campsites being occupied. It is unfortunate that incidents of this nature take place, however in an event of this size, things happen that are outside of our control," Andrews says. "We work closely with the Pinal County Sheriff's Office, as well as other law enforcement agencies to create the safest environment for our patrons."

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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.