A tip from a parole officer led to the arrest of the key suspect in the attack on a San Francisco Giants baseball fan outside Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles after the rival teams’ season opener, a brutal beating that brought an outpouring of support for the victim and outrage in the sports world and beyond.
Suspect Giovanni Ramirez, 31, was detained in an early morning raid on an East Hollywood apartment building and was believed to be the “primary aggressor” in the March 31 beating that left Bryan Stow with brain damage, police chief Charlie Beck said at an afternoon news conference at the stadium that included Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Dodgers officials.
Ramirez, of Los Angeles, was later booked for assault with a deadly weapon and was being held on US$1 million bail, police said in a statement.
An emotional Beck hailed the work of 20 full-time detectives who he said have pursued more than 630 leads in the case so far. The police chief choked back tears as he described getting a call at 7am on Sunday from assistant chief Earl Paysinger.
“He said the words I’ve been waiting for for seven weeks. He said that we had Bryan’s assault suspect in custody,” Beck said. “This is a huge step.”
Ramirez was among several people detained for questioning after police served two search warrants, Los Angeles police detective Jose Carillo said. Police said he was one of two suspects sought in the beating, along with a woman who drove them from the scene.
It was unclear why the others were detained, but police said in a statement that they anticipate releasing everyone but Ramirez.
Detectives and SWAT team members with a search warrant, loudspeakers and guns drawn conducted the raid in the department’s Rampart District.
“When I went to bed last night I did so knowing that detectives from northeast and members from our SWAT team were going to serve warrants in Rampart,” Beck said. “I knew those warrants were specific to Bryan Stow’s assault.”
A second warrant was served at a home, police said, but provided no further details. They also seized evidence from both places.
Beck said Ramirez had become familiar to many throughout Southern California as “Suspect 1” from the flyers and billboards with the suspects’ sketches and descriptions.
They described the man as having a bald head, goatee and tattoos on his neck. Both men were wearing Dodger jerseys during the attack. Rewards totaling more than US$200,000 have been offered for information leading to arrests.
Stow, a 42-year-old paramedic and father of two, was transferred to San Francisco General Hospital after he was initially treated at Los Angeles County-University of Southern California Medical Center, where doctors put him in a medically induced coma to help prevent seizures.
Last week, doctors in San Francisco reported that Stow has been able to open his eyes, but he remained in critical condition.
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said after hearing the news on Sunday he called Villaraigosa to express his thanks for authorities’ efforts and to congratulate him.