Local reaction ranges from shock to yawns
When a young woman and her boyfriend marched into the Eagle County Justice Center Friday, she snapped at him, “Why don’t you use your head?!?”
Three reporters followed her toward the front door before they realized they worked in the building.
Such was the nature of Friday’s frenzy as District Attorney Mark Hurlbert announced he was charging Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant with Class 3 felony sexual assault.
Eagle County residents expressed reactions ranging from shock and surprise to “Kobe who?” in response to Friday’s decision to formally charge NBA star Kobe Bryant.
The woman who answers the phones at the Eagle County government building noticed a remarkable increase in the number of calls shortly after 3:15 p.m., when the press conference ended, and a remarkable decrease in decorum. Time after time, she patiently told the cacophonous callers that they needed to call the District Attorney’s Office, and gave them the number.
Fathers, especially fathers of daughters, said it was absolutely untrue that people in the area don’t care about the case.
“If you’re a parent and you have a family, you care,” said one local resident. “You want to keep them safe.”
Joel Mendoza lives in Los Angeles and is visiting family in Avon. When he heard about Friday’s press conference, he showed up wearing Bryant’s signature jersey.
“I still supporting him,” said Mendoza. “We’ll see what happens at the trial. We’ll see if you can get a fair trial in Eagle County.”
Still, even a bleeds-purple-and-gold fan like Mendoza was a little taken aback at the charges.
“I was shocked at how serious the allegations are,” he said as reporters gathered around.
Local attorney Bruce Carey has become something of a media consultant during the week leading up to Friday’s announcement. Carey has become accustomed to speaking in sound bites, and when asked about the proceedings, said “I think there will be a trial.”
Avon residents Anthony and Richard Picardi, along with their mother, were among the throng at Friday’s press conference.
“There is no winning,” said Anthony. “This is a sad story for everyone, the girl, his wife, their families.
Richard said Friday’s announcement should serve as a warning to all of us, not just celebrities and athletes, that the sort of behavior alleged against Bryant is unacceptable by anyone.
Anthony pointed out that much of the success of any business is based perception and image. The NBA is having enough problems with its image without something like this.
“This could hurt the NBA,” he said. “He’s a high profile player in a large city. You try to keep a good image in any business. This is not good for business.”
Eagle residents at a swim meet at the town’s new pool Friday said the upheaval over the Kobe Bryant case doesn’t make much long-term difference.
“We’ll still live here, and unless you’re directly involved in the case it doesn’t really matter what happens with Kobe Bryant,” said one mother while holding a stopwatch and serving as a volunteer time. “It’s a great place to live, and when it’s all over, we’ll still live here.”