Tip led police to suspect in Dodger Stadium beating
A tip from a parole agent led Los Angeles police to the man suspected of being one of the two assailants in the brutal beating of Giants fan Bryan Stow at Dodger Stadium, police sources said.
At about 7 a.m. Sunday, a Los Angeles police SWAT team descended on an East Hollywood apartment building with a warrant in hand. Using loudspeakers and with guns drawn, officers called out to the occupants of Apt. 25, said the building’s manager Maritza Camacho.
Inside, along with several other people, was one of the men police suspect in the March 31 beating that left Stow with brain damage. One by one, the occupants emerged, Camacho said. The man taken into custody had a bald head and tattoos on his neck and arms, she said, a description that appeared to match the vague sketches released by police of one of the two suspects. She added that he did not appear to resist being taken into custody.
Several police sources, who requested their names not be used because the investigation was ongoing, confirmed that the man taken into custody was one of the two suspects in the beating. Police officials declined to give details, including the name of the suspect.
Stow, 42, a father of two, was walking through the Dodger Stadium parking lot with two friends after the Dodgers’ opening-day victory over San Francisco when he was brutally assaulted. Stow, who lives in Santa Cruz and worked as a paramedic in Santa Clara, was wearing Giants apparel, police said, and two young men began taunting him. One of the assailants blindsided Stow with blows to the back and head, police said.
The two assailants repeatedly kicked and punched Stow while he was on the ground. Stow's friends attempted to help, and were also punched and kicked before the attackers fled in a car driven by a woman wearing an Andre Ethier jersey. Police said it appeared there also was a 10-year-old boy in the car.
The incident drew intense scrutiny from around the world on the beleaguered Dodgers organization -- which has struggled to deal with a segment of its fan base that police say is dominated by gang members -- and spurred an intense hunt for the attackers.
Working off of hundreds of tips from anonymous callers, police chased leads that resulted in dead ends. Several potential suspects have been questioned and released after police determined they were not involved.
As more time passed without an arrest, the reward fund grew to more than $200,000 and the suspects' sketches were plastered on about 200 billboards around the L.A. area.
Ultimately, a parole agent contacted LAPD detectives on the case, alerting them to his suspicions that a parolee under his supervision may have been one of the attackers. From that tip, police turned their focus on the man taken into custody Sunday. Officials declined to elaborate on why the parole agent came to suspect the man. Police also did not say what they learned about the man that allowed them to obtain a search warrant for the apartment.
Police officials said they also served a warrant at a second location nearby to the apartment where they found the man. It appeared that police believed the second location was tied to the man taken into custody and was not linked to the second suspect, who remained at large Sunday.
Camacho said that the man taken into custody Sunday morning had not been a longtime resident of the East Hollywood apartment building, but she had begun to see him coming and going in the last few months. She said a woman, her husband, their two adult children, and the woman’s brother lived in the two-bedroom unit. Police detained the other people who were in the apartment Sunday morning, Camacho said.
Stow remains in critical condition at San Francisco General Hospital, where he was moved last week from County-USC Medical Center in Los Angeles.
Doctors in San Francisco told reporters Stow had opened his eyes but that his long-term recovery was far from certain.
The incident has brought scrutiny and negative media attention to the Dodgers, who are also in the midst of an ownership battle. Owner Frank McCourt is struggling to meet payroll, prompting Major League Baseball to seize all business and day-to-day operations of the team.
Despite a significantly increased police presence, attendance has lagged. At Wednesday's game against the Giants — the rival team's first visit back since the opening series — paid attendance was 30,421. Although that was the number of tickets sold, the 56,000-seat stadium was clearly more than half empty. The last time the Dodgers sold fewer tickets for a home game against the Giants was June 4, 1997, when they sold 30,357.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Police Chief Charlie Beck and Dodger officials are scheduled to hold a news conference at 4 p.m. Sunday at Dodger Stadium to discuss the case.
-- Joel Rubin
Photos, from top: TV camera operators try to get footage of the scene in the apartment where a man suspected of being one of the two men who brutally attacked Bryan Stow was taken into custody Sunday; a billboard in Los Angeles seeks information about Stow's assailants; Stow with his children. Credits: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times; Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images; Beck Diefenbach / Reuters