Elvis Costello’s production manager attacked by panhandler in Portland

Posted Nov. 20, 2013, at 6:04 p.m.
Elvis Costello
Elvis Costello

PORTLAND, Maine — Milo Lewis, the production manager for singer Elvis Costello, was attacked Monday afternoon in Congress Square. In town for Costello’s show at the State Theatre, Lewis stepped out for a midday walk and never returned.

Richard Sneddon, a 45-year-old homeless man, was arrested and charged with aggravated assault for attacking Lewis, who refused to give him money.

According to Portland Police, Sneddon responded by pushing and kicking Lewis as he tried to walk away. Lewis was transported to Maine Medical Center complaining of leg pain. He has since undergone emergency surgery.

“I am horrified,” said Lauren Wayne, general manager of the State Theatre. “This happened in broad daylight. It could happen to anyone.”

Lewis took a break at 12:30 p.m. while the band was setting up to walk down Congress Street, Wayne said.

The attack occurred a block away from the theater, near High Street, but did not mar the concert. Someone on the crew stepped in for the fallen manager and the audience was none the wiser, Wayne confirmed.

“The tour was very concerned with what happened. Being true professionals, the show went off fine,” she said.

But, the incident still stings. “I feel like Portland has a black eye right now,” said Wayne, who wants the city to make Congress Square Park, where homeless people congregate, safer. “What next needs to happen?”

With the redevelopment of Congress Square at a standstill, “we are at a fragile time right now in trying to improve this part of town,” said Steve Hewins, executive director for Portland’s Downtown District, whose offices are on Congress Street. “Events like that reinforce an opinion people have of this part of town.”

Hewins, who helps run events such as First Friday Art Walk, says the art’s district is viewed as “the weak stepchild compared to the Old Port. It doesn’t need to be.”

Hewins’ team reached out to Lewis, who is 59 and from the United Kingdom, and his family, providing them gift certificates for local restaurants as a peace offering. “We sought him out to apologize,” said Hewins, who was saddened by the attack. “We are disappointed that this would happen here.”

Portland’s Downtown District board president Brad McCurtain visited Lewis in the hospital Tuesday night. Lewis told McCurtain he would not press charges. The hospital has restricted all information upon the family’s request, including his condition, which is unknown.

The incident is not expected to affect business at the theater, but Wayne is growing weary.

“It really shows that that area needs to be changed and made safer,” she said. “It’s just one more thing.”

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