Gary Gorman says he was going to let it go, but in the end he didn't: "I thought I'm going to at least say something to him."
At a basketball game Thursday night at Oregon High School, the Madison-area property magnate was sitting a short distance from a student who did not stand during the National Anthem.
"It just bothered me," says Gorman, the president of Gorman and Co., an Oregon-based housing developer, which also does property management.
And so, by Gorman's account, at halftime he approached the young man and apprised him, "It's disrespectful not to stand during the National Anthem."
Whereupon the young man, relates Gorman, immediately "just went off on me," hurling epithets like "Fuck you, old man."
The boy, a 16-year-old Oregon high student named Jacob Walker, gives a different version. He says Gorman angrily confronted him, and they argued, with Gorman saying, among other things, that he wanted to "rip off your smart-ass lips" and "put your head through that window." Walker says Gorman "kept telling me to hit him," so he could hit the boy back.
Gorman flatly denies this: "That's not what happened."
Walker admits he did at one point give Gorman the finger and told him to "Fuck off, old man."
"My son did retaliate in words back to him," says Walker's mom, Patty Torres, who works as a meal coordinator at a nursing home. And this, she admits, "antagonized" Gorman.
But Torres otherwise sides with her son, suggesting he didn't stand in part because he has a diagnosed condition and "is on medication that makes him tired. He's not all that active."
Afterward, Walker reported the encounter to Oregon police, who were present at the game. An officer spoke to both the Walker and Gorman, getting their accounts of the incident. No arrests were made or citations issued. Torres has requested but not yet received the police report.
Walker says the police officer he approached was unsympathetic to his concern, demanding, "Why didn't you stand up for the pledge?" and saying something like, "Why should I help you? I work for the government." Afterward, the boy phoned his parents.
Torres says she and her husband came to the game as it was ending, and spoke with two officers, one of whom was "great" and the other, not so much. "He said it was 'he said, he said,' and they weren't going to do anything about it." Torres says she's in the process of filing a complaint with the Oregon Police Department: "It feels like my son is being targeted and that his civil rights have been infringed on."
There were apparently no witnesses to the encounter, but Torres believes it may have been captured on a security camera, and is trying to obtain the tape. And while it does not have an audio component, she hopes it will shed light on what occurred.