LOS ANGELES (AP) — A tip from a parole officer led to the arrest Sunday of the key suspect in the attack on a San Francisco Giants fan outside Dodger Stadium 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 Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Dodgers officials.
Ramirez, of Los Angeles, was later booked for assault with a deadly weapon and was being held on $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 7 a.m. 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 Det. 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.
Beck did not know if Ramirez had hired an attorney.
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, which has traditionally been home to significant gang activity, though it has waned in recent years.
“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 $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.
Stow’s sister said police called her family Sunday morning to tell them about the detained suspect.
“I can’t even tell you the emotions that we’re going through right now,” Bonnie Stow told KABC-TV. “To be excited is the least we can say.”
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said after hearing the news Sunday he called Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to express his thanks for authorities’ efforts and to congratulate him.
Giants team officials also released a statement commending Los Angeles police and thanking “the community for its tremendous support for the Stow family during this difficult time.”
Giants fan Les Wong, 37 of San Francisco celebrated the news as he headed to the game.
“It’s good to hear that they caught someone. That kind of thing doesn’t belong in sports,” said Wong, who was wearing a Giants hat and Giants t-shirt. “I’m glad to hear there is going to be some sort of justice.”
Stow, who was wearing Giants gear, was leaving the game at Dodger Stadium with two friends when he was attacked. Moments earlier, Stow texted a family member to say he feared for his safety in the rowdy crowd.
Following the attack, Beck beefed up security at Dodger Stadium to deal with fights that had been breaking out at games in recent years.
Baseball fans have complained that anyone who dares to wear a rival team’s jersey on Dodger turf has too-often been subjected to profane verbal abuse and threats of violence.
Beck said Sunday that the new security is working.
“Even though the crowds have been small, this is the safest stadium in this country here in these past series, and it will continue to be so,” the chief said.
But Beck said of the investigation that “this job is only half done” with suspects still at large, and others who spoke at the news conference said the same.
“The woman who was driving, you need to give yourself in. The other coward who did this, you need to give yourself in,” said City Councilman Ed Reyes, who represents the area of the stadium.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)