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Hank Williams Jr. concert death: ME rules fight resulted in homicide

Hank Williams, Jr. performs at the Fifth annual New Year's Eve Bash on Broadway on December 31, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee.
Hank Williams, Jr. performs at the Fifth annual New Year's Eve Bash on Broadway on December 31, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee.
Photo by Terry Wyatt/Getty Images

The death of a 55-year-old man who apparently got into a shoving altercation with a teenager at a Hank Williams Jr. concert and died shortly afterward from an injury to the head has been ruled a homicide, according to the Oakland County (Mich.) Medical Examiner's Office. The Oakland County Sheriff's Office are currently investigating the incident to better understand what led to the death of Robert Kobe and to ascertain whether or not a criminal act took place, WWJ in Detroit reported Aug. 22.

“Preliminary information said that kind of a shoving altercation was occurring between the teenager and the victim,” County Sheriff Mike Bouchard said earlier this week. “Early information is that it actually precipitated by the victim.”

Robert Kobe went to the Hank Williams Jr. concert Sunday (Aug. 17) with a group of friends, which included the 15-year-old who would ultimately shove him, causing him to hit his head against concrete on the concourse at the DTE Energy Music Theatre. The teen, who name has not been released in consideration of his age, was questioned by the police, spent the night in jail and later released. His status will be determined by the pending outcome of the investigation. Authorities are presently interviewing witnesses to the incident.

The Oakland County Prosecutor’s office will issue a report next week regarding the investigation. It is up to prosecutors to decide if the case merits criminal charges against the 15-year-old.

Given that the death of Kobe was ruled a homicide, intent or lack thereof will be determined and the case will proceed from that point.

Bystanders detained the teen until police arrived. They maintained he had attempted to flee after Kobe struck his head.

Kobe was taken to a nearby hospital where he died two days later.

According to Robert Kobe's son, Corey, who spoke with WWJ earlier in the week, his father was "a big goof ball" who liked to "tease with you and kid around." He added that after being given the details of the incident, "there’s no reason to believe that there was any kind of foul play involved. Nobody had any intention. It was an accident.”

He went on: "I don’t hold any ill will toward the 15-year-old involved. I understand it. At any point in my life, goofing around, I could have been that kid, my father could have been that kid.”

Corey Kobe said he had heard, according to the Detroit Free Press, that some were saying that his father had been attacked by a hostile youth. He said he wanted to speak up for the young man and ensure he got "fair treatment." He said his father, who had been a bodyguard for Ted Nugent in the 1970s, loved concerts, liked to drink, and liked to indulge in horseplay.

Three-time Academy of Country Music Awards Entertainer of the Year and four-time Emmy winner (for his "Monday Night Football" themes) Hank Williams Jr. is famous for his rousing stage presence and hours-long concerts. His performances have won him fans that span several generations, as is evident in the age disparity between Robert Kobe and the teenager.

But it seems that violence has become associated with country music shows of late, a growing trend that Rolling Stone picked up on. They pointed out the Keith Urban concert in July in Mansfield, Mass., where one 18-year-old was arrested for the alleged rape of a 17-year-old, 46 people were treated for alcohol-related illnesses and 50 were arrested. In the same month, a 22-year-old who went missing at a Jason Aldean concert in Cleveland was found dead in a landfill.

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