A 40-year-old Ketchum man has been charged with aggravated assault, a felony, for allegedly threatening another man with a knife during a confrontation that occurred early Saturday evening in Ketchum on a Mountain Rides Transportation Authority bus.
Benjamin Burbank Charles was formally charged with the crime at an initial court appearance Monday in Blaine County Magistrate Court. According to court records, Charles pleaded not guilty and the Roark Law Firm was appointed public defender. Charles is currently free on $1,000 bond.
A preliminary hearing was scheduled for April 2 before Magistrate Court Judge R. Ted Israel.
A probable-cause affidavit filed in the case by Ketchum police Sgt. Nathan Taylor states that the charge against Charles arose from a bus altercation around 5:30 p.m. on Saturday. Taylor wrote in the report that he was initially dispatched to a fight on North Main Street but that confrontation was over by the time he arrived.
Taylor wrote that in an interview with four of the people involved, he learned that Charles and another man got on the bus at River Run and were allegedly “drunk” and using “coarse language.” A confrontation started when one of the four, identified as Eric Niesz, 54, asked Charles and his companion to “tone it down.”
Taylor reported that Charles then allegedly pulled out a “Leatherman multi-tool,” unfolded the knife attachment and pointed the knife at Niesz while making “a stabbing motion.”
Taylor wrote that a fight broke out when all six people got off the bus at 311 North Main St. Taylor further wrote that the fight ended when another man with the group of four, identified as Steve Bartkus, 54, punched Charles in the face.
Charles was arrested later in Sun Valley after being interviewed by Taylor about the incident.