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Man killed at Swell Season concert named

32-year-old Michael Pickels was facing possible jail term.

The Hot Press Newsdesk, 23 Aug 2010

The man suspected of dying by suicide last week at an outdoor Swell Season gig in Saratoga, California has been named as Michael Pickels, a San Jose resident who was facing charges of assault with a firearm, domestic violence and false imprisonment.

According to the San Jose Mercury newspaper, the charges arose from a “New Year’s Day argument with his girlfriend. Pickels pointed a loaded shotgun at her and declared he was going to kill both of them. The 32-year-old was out on $150,000 bail at the time of his death, twice the typical bail amount for such charges. Pickels was attending the concert with a friend when he left the audience at about 10 p.m., leaving behind some ‘personal items,’ according to Sgt. Rick Sung, a sheriff's department spokesman. Sung said the girlfriend told investigators that during an argument over ‘personal matters’ at a house in South San Jose, Pickels grabbed a loaded shotgun, pointed at her and said he was going to kill her, then kill himself.

“Pickels then tied her hands and legs, according to Sung. The girlfriend pleaded with him to spare her life, promising that she wouldn't tell anyone. Eventually he agreed to let her go. Sung said the girlfriend went to a friend's house in Campbell and called the sheriff's office.”

After much soul-searching, the band decided to go ahead with Friday’s scheduled gig at the Oregon Zoo in Portland.

“Making and performing music is what the band has always done in good times and in bad,” reflects the Swell Season’s US manager Howard Greynolds. “Our hope is that in this communal experience tonight we can somehow help our own grieving process after what we just witnessed. The show will most certainly be different than any other we have ever played.

“We wish to continue to be sensitive to family and friends of this individual and hope that in performing it is not viewed as a selfish act. We have not come to this decision lightly. We continue to have them at the forefront of our minds and hearts.”

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