Secret Service Agents, Air Force Officers, And Massachusetts State Police Bomb Technician Fought In Drunken Brawl In Martha’s Vineyard Barroom

MARTHA’S VINEYARD, MASSACHUSETTS – Getting into a barroom fight with the men who guard Vice President Joe Biden would likely get someone locked up — unless the brawlers also happen to be on the very same security team.

That’s just what happened in a bloody, booze-fueled brawl that spilled out of Nantucket’s Rose and Crown nightclub while Biden and his family were spending last Thanksgiving on the island, according to police logs, notes and reports obtained by It was one of at least two fights police in and around Martha’s Vineyard have investigated involving Secret Service agents and other members of President Obama’s and Biden’s security details in the last year as the leaders and their families vacationed nearby.

The fight, which a police report said “caused visible damage to both parties,” pitted Jonathan Dawes, a hulking, 217-pound Secret Service agent, and Eric “Bomb Squad” Gahagan, a Massachusetts State Police bomb technician assigned to Biden, against three Air Force officers who had just been assigned to the same detail. The airmen, who suffered black eyes, head contusions and a chipped tooth, thought their assailants were local cops. Gahagan and Dawes knew the airmen were part of the Biden detail.

A bouncer told cops “the incident bothered him because Gahagan and Dawes were both considerably bigger than the men they attacked,” the eight-page police report stated. “He said he felt that Gahagan and Dawes were acting like bullies.”

The fight started just after midnight on Nov. 24, 2011, when, according to the police report, Gahagan accused the Air Force men of taking photos of him dancing with female Secret Service agent Yumi Kim, according to the police report. The Air Force officers, John Tran, Michael Valeich and Lucas Wiemer, told cops they didn’t know Gahagan, Dawes or Kim and had not been taking pictures.

According to the police report, the fighting began when Gahagan pounced on Valeich, sparking a melee involving Dawes, who grabbed Wiemer by the throat. All three airmen were punched in the face and Wiemer was left with a cut over his eye; Valeich, with two black eyes, a chipped tooth and several head contusions. “My head was spinning,” Valeich later told cops.

“Don’t go back to your hotel,” Gahagan yelled as he was being led out by a bouncer, according to the police report. “We know where you’re staying!”

The two groups ran into each other again on the street a short time later, according to the police report, where two more altercations occurred.

Nearly 20 hours later, on the evening of Nov. 24, the Air Force men went to Nantucket police, who zeroed in on the suspects and briefed the head of Biden’s Nantucket detail, Secret Service Special Agent in Charge Steven Ricciardi, who heads the Secret Service’s Boston field office. Only after repeated queries did they learn that Kim and Dawes were Secret Service agents and that they and Gahagan were assigned to the same Biden detail as the three airmen.

When police hauled in Dawes, 32, and read him his Miranda rights, the Massachusetts native clammed up.

“I told him that he was a suspect in a criminal matter, an assault and battery,” the detective wrote in his report. “Mr. Dawes signed the Miranda rights form to acknowledge his understanding of those rights. He then said, “Of course I know my rights — I’m an investigator.”

Dawes said he wouldn’t speak without an attorney present, and after Ricciardi made it clear that no one involved in the fight would participate in an investigation, cops were left with little choice but to drop the matter, according to reports and interviews with investigators.

“No charges or further investigation on Nantucket was done after Nantucket Police investigation,” Nantucket Deputy Police Chief Charles Gibson told “Complainants declined to pursue charges. Case referrals to Massachusetts State Police, U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Air Force.”

Massachusetts State Police spokesman Dave Procopio said Gahagan was pulled from the Biden detail the next day, and added that — almost seven months to the day later — the department is still probing the incident.

“If our department complaint against him is sustained, he will face disciplinary action,” Procopio told

Secret Service spokesman Max Milien declined to say what, if anything, his agency did about the incident.

“We were made aware of this incident when it occurred,” Milien said. “There were no criminal charges filed in this matter against any Secret Service personnel. As in all matters of alleged employee misconduct, the appropriate follow-up was conducted.”

Attempts to reach Dawes and Gahagan directly for comment were unsuccessful. Milien also refused to make Dawes available, or to confirm if the agent was still on Biden’s security detail.

But Dawes, an avid workout buff, has in the past been a prolific blogger who has posted photos on various bodybuilding sites about his grueling workouts and Secret Service training. For example, on Nov. 26, 2008, after Obama and Biden had been elected, but before they were sworn in, he wrote:

“so i’m stuck on Nantucket (one of the islands off of massachusetts) for thanksgiving… i have 2 options for working out. one is at the local fire department or there is a “health club” which charges $25 per day!!! or $85 for the week!!!!! the equipment in the FD is circa Arnold days! so i think i’ll use some of the tax payers money and use the good gym!!! Thank you to all of you who pay your taxes!!!”

Col. Chris Patterson, the 621st Contingency Response Wing commander at McGuire Air Force Base, where the three airmen were stationed, said his men were immediately replaced after the violent incident. But he noted that Tran, Valeich and Wiemer were cleared of any wrongdoing by local cops.

“Upon receipt of the police report, finding no fault in the behavior of the three airmen, it was determined no further action was required,” he told

In a separate incident, this time on Martha’s Vineyard, an Air Force bomb technician and member of President Obama’s security detail also escaped charges after being accused of groping a local high school teacher and then getting in a fistfight with the manager of an Edgartown restaurant.

On August 27, 2011, the night after Obama returned to Washington, explosives expert Peter McNally groped a local high school teacher at the Wharf, according to interviews with witnesses and police reports. The teacher filed a report with Edgartown Police two days later.

In her statement to police, obtained by, the teacher said she had her back to the room when, “I felt two hands deliberately placed on the sides of my breasts, which then slid down my torso to my waist and moved me to the left. I heard a voice say, ‘Excuse me.’”

Reached by, the woman declined to discuss the incident. But a bartender who was there that night told McNally was out of control.

“He was just loud and grabbing girls and talking sh–,” the bartender recalled. “[McNally said], ‘I box. I kill people for a living. I protect the President of the United States,’ things like that. We kicked him out.”

According to interviews and police reports, McNally and a friend then walked across the street to The Atlantic restaurant, where he got into a fight with manager Jamie Zambrana at closing time. When Zambrana told McNally he needed to exit through the front door, “McNally threw a punch with a closed fist, striking [Zambrana] in the face, knocking him through the door and onto the ground,” the police report states. “Zambrana stated he kicked McNally three times in the groin area, then punched McNally with a closed fist in the face. McNally then fell to the ground.”

McNally struck his head on the railing of the porch, causing severe lacerations to the head. He also reported a lacerated liver. He spent more than two days in the hospital. Zambrana and McNally were both initially charged with assault.

“It is what it is, it was what it was,” Zambrana told, declining further comment.

A local judge later ruled there was not enough evidence to charge McNally with groping the woman or to charge either McNally of Zambrana with assault. Edgartown Police Sgt. Craig Edwards told he spoke with Air Force officials, who conducted their own investigation of the McNally incident.

It’s unclear what became of their investigation, but according to Facebook posts by McNally’s wife, the bomb expert retired on May 1.

McNally’s local attorney, James Powderly, told that a local magistrate found there was not enough evidence to support the police department’s charge of indecent assault and battery in the case of the woman McNally allegedly groped. And he said a separate assault and battery complaint sought by police regarding the fight with Zambrana was dismissed at Zambrana’s request.

A spokeswoman for Tyndall Air Force Base, where McNally was stationed, told “our legal office has nothing on it,” adding that they had no jurisdiction over the incident.

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