O.J. Simpson spent Tuesday night in Fargo sitting behind a table at JT Cigarro surrounded by interested onlookers and at least one burly bodyguard.
The south Fargo bar, which will lose its ability to allow smoking next Tuesday, was abuzz as word spread throughout town that the celebrity and one-time murder suspect was among them. Many took cell phone photos with Simpson. Others who couldn't get as close simply snapped photos from afar.
Simpson was seated behind a table in the rear corner of the room. Typically he was surrounded by at least 15 people, just soaking in the moment. A massive bodyguard created with chairs a perimeter around the area and stood guard to allow people in or out.
Simpson, donning his trademark white golf visor, seemed to enjoy the spectacle, often smiling, high-fiving people and posing for photos cheek to cheek.
Some in the bar said Simpson arrived around 8 p.m. Though the reason is not perfectly clear as to why he was in Fargo on Tuesday night, one witness said his girlfriend is from the area. It was also unclear who was part of Simpson's entourage.
By 11 p.m., word had clearly spread throughout the community that Simpson was here as the bar became more and more busy and media personnel could be seen trying to confirm that it was in fact Simpson. A manager from JT Cigarro refused at least two media people access to Simpson. Later, however, one TV station was able to ask Simpson a few questions.
While the scene was borderline bizarre, some regulars at the bar seemed nonchalant about Simpson being among them.
Simpson, a retired football player, captured the national spotlight during his trial and subsequent acquittal in the 1994 knife slaying of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman.
The former NFL star is set to go on trial in September to face charges of orchestrating the armed robbery of two sports memorabilia dealers at a Las Vegas hotel room. Simpson has pleaded not guilty.
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