Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Cruise Ship Dancer Killed After Jumping Overboard

A cruise ship dancer who jumped 30 feet off a deck into San Diego Bay last weekend was killed by police after attacking an officer who had helped pull him onto a rescue boat, officials said Monday. Steven Hirschfield, 37, a performer and bodybuilder who lived in West Hollywood, was hired to dance aboard Saturday night's Circuit Daze harbor cruise, a dance party attended by about 900 revelers as part of the weekend's gay pride celebrations. Crew members aboard the Hornblower Cruises boat Inspiration called harbor police just after 11 p.m., about an hour into the cruise, to report a man overboard. Hirschfield, clad only in shorts and sneakers, refused to climb aboard a small rescue vessel or grab flotation devices, according to Jim Unger, general manager for Hornblower Cruises. "He didn't want to come aboard," Unger said. "There was something wrong. Logically, when people go in the water, if they fell or didn't want to be there, they would quickly want to get help."Police said Hirschfield apparently jumped off the boat voluntarily but did not know why. He initially refused to climb onto the swim deck of a harbor patrol boat but then hauled himself onto the front end by a hanging rope, said acting San Diego police Lt. William Stetson. Once on the boat, Hirschfield grabbed an officer's stun gun and beat him in the face before reaching for the officer's weapon, according to harbor police Lt. John Forsythe. A second officer then fatally shot Hirschfield in the chest. The injured officer was treated for face and leg injuries. The officers' names have not been released. The San Diego district attorney's office and police homicide investigators will investigate the shooting. Toxicology reports will be completed in about a month, according to the San Diego County medical examiner's office. According to court records, Hirschfield was arrested in 2004 for possession of a controlled substance, but charges were dropped in 2006 after he agreed to an 18-month drug rehabilitation program. A message left with Hirschfield's attorney in the case was not immediately returned. Circuit Daze promoter Bill Hardt did not respond to messages left by reporters seeking comment. Efforts to reach Hirschfield's relatives were unsuccessful.

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