FARGO — The man accused of throwing what turned out to be a deadly punch outside an upscale downtown bar here last month portrays himself on social media as a successful business owner and family man.
Darren Patterson also offers up a tough-guy image, having a passion for fast bikes and cars and hard-core weight training.
Patterson, 43, who stands 5 feet 9 inches tall with a bodybuilder's physique, managed to hit three men in short order during a disturbance outside the HoDo Restaurant and Lounge May 27.
According to a criminal complaint filed in Cass County District Court, he knocked two of them unconscious. One of the men, 45-year-old James "Jamie" Grant of Fargo, struck the back of his head on the ground when he fell. Grant died of his injuries nine days later.
On June 20, prosecutor Cherie Clark announced a change in the charges related to the fight. Patterson is now charged with felony manslaughter in Grant's death. Additional charges of felony aggravated assault and misdemeanor simple assault remain unchanged.
Patterson, from Fargo, now lives in Las Vegas with his wife, Ashley, and 4-year-old daughter, but travels back here for business and to visit family.
His public Instagram account contains a mix of work and family-related posts, with hashtags #killingit and #blessed. One shows him and his wife attending a breast cancer fundraiser in Las Vegas a week before the fight in Fargo.
Other photos highlight Patterson's well-muscled and tattooed arms, with hashtags #fitdads and #crushshit. In a September 2012 post on his wife's Facebook page, he's wearing a T-shirt with the caption, "Talk Shit Get Hit."
Patterson, reached by The Forum via text message, said he was not able to answer any questions because of the ongoing case.
"I apologize I can't be of more help," Patterson wrote, "as there is a whole other side to this story."
Fargo North grad, fitness fanatic
A Fargo woman who's known Patterson for nearly three decades describes him as "one of my favorite people in the whole world."
Becky Shiek, 42, dated Patterson for about five years, through high school and beyond. He graduated from Fargo North in 1992; she from Fargo South in 1993.
Shiek said besides her husband, she considers Patterson her best friend, and he's close to her entire family. Though she's been married for 21 years, Patterson is someone she leans on.
"If I have anything personal, financial, spiritual going on, he's kind of my go-to person," Shiek said.
Patterson was a wrestler in school, and according to a high school yearbook, was on the North track and field team as a sophomore.
At some point, he became involved in weight training. According to a March 2004 story in The Forum, he competed in an Upper Midwest Bodybuilding contest at North Dakota State University.
"There's no hiding anything," a then 30-year-old Patterson said, adding: "You can't hide how hard you worked — or didn't work."
'He's so laid back'
Shiek said as Patterson, who's red-haired and freckled but shaves his head now, got further into weightlifting and tattoos, people would say things to get under his skin. Most of the time he ignored them, she said, unless they tried to pick a fight.
Shiek said she was shocked to hear Patterson described as the aggressor that night outside the HoDo, because she's never seen him start a fight.
"I can only imagine he was defending himself," Shiek said. "It would be very unlike him to harm anyone intentionally."
Another longtime friend, Mike Rheault of Fargo, said Patterson is not a confrontational guy.
"It takes a lot for him to get upset because he's so laid back," Rheault said.
"I'm a redhead, too. We have bad tempers, but I've never seen him in that predicament," Rheault added.
It was on a visit to Fargo where Patterson crossed paths with Jamie Grant, brother Jeff Grant and their friend Christopher Sang the evening of Saturday, May 27.
According to the criminal complaint, police were called to a fight in progress at the HoDo and found two men lying on the sidewalk outside. Jeff Grant pointed to Patterson and told police "he knocked them out," and that Patterson had hit him as well.
One officer handcuffed Patterson, while others attended to Jamie Grant and Sang.
Jamie Grant was unconscious with blood pooling on the concrete from a head wound. Sang was first unconscious, then opened his eyes, appearing confused and disoriented. He told an officer he didn't remember what happened.
A HoDo bartender told police that Jamie Grant, Jeff Grant and Sang got into a fight with Patterson in the bar. Employees sent Patterson out the front door and the others out the side door.
A witness said Patterson then walked back across the street to the HoDo sidewalk, where the punches were thrown.
An officer read Patterson his Miranda warning, reminding him of his right to remain silent.
According to the complaint, Patterson then gave his account.
He told police the three men "came at him" in the bar and that Jamie Grant hit him in the throat. Once outside, he said, he crossed the street and then came back to get his wife when the three started yelling at him and he yelled back.
Patterson said they confronted him again, the men hit him and that he "got lucky with two of them," punching each on the chin.
Patterson has been charged with felony assault before for an altercation in a Fargo bar.
According to court records, that victim, Casey Carr, told police he was at Dempsey's Pub downtown in August 2010 when a man later identified as Patterson motioned for him to come over and asked Carr why he'd been staring at him all night.
Patterson asked if Carr "had a problem." Carr told police he responded with something he couldn't recall, and then Patterson headbutted him on the nose without warning.
While Carr initially didn't want to make a police report, he went to the hospital later that night, where he said X-rays showed his nose was broken.
During a police interview five days later, an officer noted a 1-inch horizontal cut on the bridge of Carr's nose and yellowish bruising under his eyes.
A few weeks later, a felony assault charge was filed against Patterson. However, in an agreement with prosecutors, he later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of simple assault.
Patterson isn't the only one involved in the HoDo fight who has a history of assault, however.
In January 2016, Sang was arrested in connection with a fight in downtown Minneapolis.
Sang was charged with fifth-degree assault and disorderly conduct, both misdemeanors. According to Hennepin County court records, Sang pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and the assault charge was dismissed.
A voicemail left by The Forum for Sang was not returned.
Patterson characterizes himself as someone who became successful despite a rough start to life.
In a Mother's Day 2017 post on Instagram, alongside a photo of a shiny Audi, he pays tribute to his mom, who lives in Fargo.
"One thing about life for me was never a free ride. In 4th grade I lived in a trailer park with a hard working single mother and a little brother. She taught us hope, hard work, respect, and no free rides," he wrote.
Patterson owns a business in Fargo called HomeRun Products, located in an industrial area at 1431 Seventh Ave. N. It sells cookware under the brand name EuroCAST, primarily through independent contractors, along with a few other products online as well.
The metal building includes a small warehouse stacked high with boxes, and there's a small office, where a handful of employees have work stations.
On social media, Patterson describes himself as CEO and his wife as president.
On its website, EuroCAST is billed as the fastest growing direct-to-consumer product company.
The company invites prospective salespeople to Vegas for "auditions." They're encouraged to memorize a sales script before arriving, and are chosen based on performance.
They go on to sell the cookware at big box stores like Sam's Club, trade shows, home and garden shows, county fairs and military bases nationwide.
A post on Patterson's Instagram indicates that working for EuroCAST is lucrative. "Hiring six figure killers weekly. Be blessed," he wrote in November 2016.
But company reviews posted on the jobs website Glassdoor indicate that figure may be exaggerated.
A former contractor who posted March 15 said new recruits are "lured" with the promise of a six-figure income. However, "travel expenses come out of your own pocket and events near your home are difficult to book," the person wrote.
"Not even the best are making those numbers," wrote a June 1 poster.
Another former contractor offered this opinion May 6: "Great product, 'cold as ice' management."
The Better Business Bureau of North Dakota and Minnesota lists nearly a dozen complaints against HomeRun Products, ranging from defective goods to items ordered but not received. Five of those complaints were listed as being resolved. The rest were either unresolved or the BBB didn't hear back from the customer.
A court appearance for Patterson on the initial charges from the May assault is set for June 29. However, that could change because of the amended charges.
Patterson's attorney, Bruce Quick, said he hasn't yet received any discovery documents from the prosecutor's office.
"They're taking their time, which is good," Quick said. "No rash decisions are needed because it's a very serious matter."