FOOTBALL: Witnesses describe raucous scene at Candlestick Park

 

Police are looking for a person of interest in one of two
shootings at a preseason football game between the cross-bay rival
San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders at Candlestick Park, an
event peppered with numerous fights in the stands and an assault
that left a man unconscious in a bathroom.
By Julie Cart – Los Angeles Times

Police are looking for a person of interest in one of two shootings at a preseason football game between the cross-bay rival San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders at Candlestick Park, an event peppered with numerous fights in the stands and an assault that left a man unconscious in a bathroom.

Authorities were still sifting through evidence and puzzling over whether the incidents involved opposing fans. One of the shooting victims was wearing a T-shirt with an expletive-laced anti-49er slogan, according to police.

The violence occurred during and after the 49ers’ 17-3 victory Saturday night in their home stadium. Videos taken by fans and posted online depict fights and aggressive behavior in the stands during the game. Callers to a Bay Area radio show on Sunday described navigating a gantlet of drunk and abusive fans to reach the restroom.

Sgt. Michael Andraychak of the San Francisco Police Department said police and stadium security officials assign extra staff to games between teams with a strong rivalry or whose fans have a history of violence. The 49ers-Raiders contest fit both those criteria and extra police were on hand.

In the two parking lot shootings, a 24-year-old man remained in critical condition Sunday after being shot multiple times in the torso about 8 p.m. He managed to drive to a security office for help, Andraychak said. Another man in his 20s who was shot numerous times remained hospitalized with less threatening injuries, according to police.

About an hour before the shootings, a 26-year-old man from San Rafael, Calif., was beaten unconscious in a bathroom. He is hospitalized in serious condition, police said. The suspect in that incident was described by police as a Samoan or Pacific Islander between 25 and 30 years old, weighing 225 to 260 pounds and between 6-foot-3 and 6-foot-5.

The names of the victims have not been released.

Andraychak said no suspects were in custody, and although the shootings were being investigated as separate incidents, police were seeking any possible links.

San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee and Oakland Mayor Jean Quan issued a joint statement Sunday condemning the incidents, saying “Fans come to our stadiums to enjoy an afternoon of football, not to be subjected to intimidation or violence. These games are family events and the types of images we witnessed last night have no place in our arenas.”

The incidents hearkened back to the brutal beating of a San Francisco Giants fan at Dodgers Stadium after the team’s home opener on March 31. Brian Stow, a Bay Area paramedic and Giants fan, suffered brain damage after being assaulted in the parking lot. The suspects were Dodgers fans, and authorities believe team affinities played a role in the attack.

The Raiders have long had a reputation for unruly fans, dating back to the period when the team was based in Los Angeles, from 1982 to 1994. Much of the Raiders’ image stems from its black and silver logo of a one-eyed pirate, which is enthusiastically embraced by fans known as the Raider Nation.

In an interview Sunday, Raiders Chief Executive Amy Trask said the majority of the team’s fans are “terrific people and terrific fans.”

“I’m aware of the perception, and I don’t believe the perception is the reality,” she said. “Stereotypes are insidious. It’s so simple to stereotype Raiders fans. It’s an easy story. If you are hearing frustration coming through in my voice it’s because there’s frustration in my voice.”

Trask, who serves on the NFL’s Security Committee, said all teams in the league are serious about the safety of fans, both in the stands and in stadium parking lots.

A spokesman for the NFL said the league deplored the actions of a few fans and was reviewing the incident.

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