Marine Who Lost His Legs In Afghanistan Taunted Over A Football Game By Rival Fans

Marine Garrett Carnes and Family

Marine Garrett Carnes, of Mooresville, North Carolina attended Sunday’s Carolina Panthers’ game against the Cowboys with his wife Courtney, their parents, and friends Brett and Nicole Coburn. After the game, in which Dallas beat the Panthers, the Marine and his family stopped by Moosehead Grill on Montford Drive. This is where the incident took place.

According to the Charlotte Observer this is what happened:


During a verbal altercation that some witnesses said almost came to blows, one patron allegedly told Carnes he was using his wheelchair “as an excuse.”

In an interview with The Observer, however, the fan said Carnes and members of his party were equally abusive. And he denied making a remark about the Marine’s wheelchair.

The incident happened after Carnes, his wife Courtney, their parents, and friends Brett and Nicole Coburn stopped at the restaurant for dinner after attending the Carolina Panthers’ game against Dallas. Several members of the party, including Garrett Carnes, were wearing Dallas Cowboys jerseys.

“Courtney was the first one out of the vehicle, and while she was getting Garrett’s wheelchair, one guy immediately started yelling at her,” said Brett Coburn, who described the man’s comments as “taunts.”

Coburn said that when the group reached the front door, the fan was waiting for them.

“He was standing at the door, and he started harassing us because of the Cowboys jerseys,” Coburn said.

He said the fan told Garrett Carnes, “Don’t use your wheelchair as a crutch.”

The fan, who did not want to give his name, gave a different account.

“Moosehead is a Panthers’ bar,” he said. “When they came, wearing the Cowboys’ jerseys, I started up on them. I asked them if they were Cowboys fans who lived in North Carolina.”

“I’m not going to fight someone in a wheelchair,” the fan said. “I said to him, ‘I’m not fighting you. Get four of your boys, and I’ll fight them.’ “

According to multiple accounts of the incident, Carnes told the patron – and others who were ridiculing the group for being Cowboys’ fans – that he was a veteran and had lost his legs in Afghanistan.

Members of the Carnes-Coburn party tried to “defend ourselves verbally,” Brett Coburn said.

“We were going back and forth,” the fan said. “Yes, it got out of control.”

The fan said one woman in the Carnes-Coburn party swore at him.

He said the fan walked toward Carnes in a threatening way, and some other patrons stepped in to break it up.

Neilsen said his employees are trained to separate possible combatants, in an effort to defuse such situations. On Sunday, staff members asked Garrett Carnes and his party to leave, while they took the fan to another area of the restaurant.

“It spiraled out of control,” Coburn says.

Courtney Carnes called police, but no charges were filed.


Carnes mother has recently addressed a post to the patrons at the restaurant on facebook: “Why didn’t any of you stand up for my son and daughter? And to think my son almost died for every single person in that bar, by defending all your freedom.”

The owner of the restaurant, Chris Neilsen, arrived soon after the altercation took place. Neilsen said he arrived at the restaurant after the group had left and was in the parking lot, talking to police.“I didn’t want them to leave,” he said of the Carnes-Coburn party, “but I understand why they left. I’m miserable. My heart hurts for them.”

He said the trouble was caused by people who “are not regulars” at the restaurant and added that the fan was not welcome to return.

Hays he is “heartbroken” over the incident in which bantering between football fans got out of control, resulting in a U.S. Marine who lost both legs in Afghanistan being forced to leave the eatery with his wife, parents and friends.

He has been in contact with family members of Marine Garrett Carnes, of Mooresville, following the incident that Neilsen says “was awful.”

“I want to somehow make it right by them,” Neilsen says.

According to several emails we received, the fan who started the confrontation with the Marine, is known by them as “Tank”. But they say he is a regular and “Tank” is his nickname  while his real name is Josh Watts.


Here is a story done on the Marine when he was welcomed home: Mooresville Crowd Welcomes Home Wounded Marine

A lot of Marines have also been hammering away at them on Yelp, but it seems the Fan is at fault here for taunting the Marine. The owner was not aware until after the incident happened. Moosehead Grill

The fan told the Observer, “He (Carnes) is a veteran, and I appreciate what he did for this country. But I don’t appreciate how abusive they were.”

In my opinion it was the Fan that caused this, not the restaurant. Although they could have removed the other party instead of the wounded Marine. But here are some pics of the fan that was taunting the Marine, sent to us by a fan who is familiar with the establishment and its patrons.


What are your thoughts?
20 comments on “Marine Who Lost His Legs In Afghanistan Taunted Over A Football Game By Rival Fans
  1. hell, im half his size and i’d gladly roll into that bar and see if he said some garbage to me like that. mr tank is obviously too big for his britches and id prove it to him. being prior service army myself, veterans have to stick together.

      • The owner is not trying to make things right. I stopped in there the other day because I own a Marketing company that deals solely with restaurants… I’m also a former Marine. When I went in I was met with hostility and told that Moosehead doesn’t want the kind of customers that are posting things online anyway. They said people posting on the internet were wrong and they don’t care about any of us. They’re only concerned with the customers they currently have.

  2. “Tank” sounds like a super deuch, and needs someone to straighten him up. Seriously gonna pick on a guy in a wheel chair? Why did he open his mouth in the first place.

  3. words fail me. Garret Carnes, one day that idiot may realize what he did and ask for forgiveness. Be a man and forgive him. But he will be forever remembered for his incredible stupidity. You will always be a Marine.

  4. We should all give this “Tank” guy Some time and a place to think this thing out. TIME = 1 tour of duty. PLACE = Afganistan.

  5. I hope this marine and family know
    how much we appreciate their service.
    Anyone who would say such things to our veterans like that is a coward.

  6. I’m from Kannapolis near Mooresville I know this guy sadly he is a dbag I’m stationed in ny when I go on leave I hope to see him because it’s wrong what he did

  7. i would love to see a follow up on this story and just see if mr tank has had his tracks blown off of him by some marines or other veterans but alas i am sure the media will not follow up on this story

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