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Dodger fans attack, critically injure Giants fan

FILE -- A plane pulls a banner taunting the Los Angeles Dodgers around Dodger Stadium, prior to the Dodgers' baseball game against the San Francisco Giants on Thursday, March 31, 2011, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
April 1, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
A San Francisco Giants fan barely survived Thursday's season opener in Los Angeles. He is in critical condition in a medically induced coma at a Los Angeles hospital after being beaten by Dodgers fans.

Other Giants fans are telling similar stories of the hostility they faced at the game.

"It was pretty tense from before we even parked," San Rafael resident Mark Vaughn said.

When Vaughn went to Dodger Stadium in orange and black Thursday night he expected ribbing, but not verbal and physical hostility.

"My wife had a 3-year-old toddler say, 'Giants suck' to her," Vaughn said.

After the game, in an outer section of the parking lot, other Giants fans received worse. Three of them, including 41-year-old Bryan Stow of Santa Cruz, tried to walk away from taunting fans, but were attacked anyway. Stow remains in critical condition and police have released sketches of two of the suspects involved in the violent beating.

"He fell to the ground and hit his head and they kicked him several times and then they fled the scene," Los Angeles Police Detective P.J. Morris said.

Stow is a paramedic at American Medical Response; in fact, he was with a co-worker when the attack happened. On Friday, five people from AMR flew down south to be with him.

"We're like family here, so we'll do what we can for each other," friend Martine Bustamante said.

Those at American Medical Response in San Jose can't believe what's happened to one of their own.

"He's a diehard Giants fan and the guys that were out there, they love their team and just love being Giants fans and to think that sports rivalries turn to this is sickening. It's heart breaking," Bustamante said.

"We're very worried, we know with head injuries it's very significant. It can go either way at any time, it's one of those things that only time will tell," AMR co-worker Robert Guerrero said.

This was supposed to be nothing, but happy times for Stow who took a few days off from work to go to the game. The notorious rivalry between the Giants and Dodgers is no surprise, but to take it to this level is outrageous to Robert Oneto; he's known Bryan Stow for years.

"It's the Giants and Dodgers. It's a rivalry, but it's not something that somebody should get beat up for," Oneto said.

There will always be some level of tension when the Giants and Dodgers play.

"Winning or losing requires grace; it should be good enough to win," Jorge Costa, who runs ballpark security for the Giants, said.

But time and again, sports fans exceed the red line, from soccer riots overseas, to local Raiders fans who cut loose after the last Super Bowl in 2003.

"And that is why they are called 'fanatics,' there is an ownership entitlement where they almost become the player, they are winning or losing, they get so immersed in the game that they become irrational," Costa said.

The LAPD says it expects to make at least one arrest.

"I will never go back there again and my wife has fond memories, she never wants to go back again," Vaughn said.

Vaughn says that unlike Giants games, security was lacking inside Dodger Stadium.

Regarding the attack, the Dodgers Friday released statement saying, "It is extremely unfortunate that this incident took place on what was otherwise a great day at Dodger Stadium for tens of thousands of fans. We're committed to having the most fan and family friendly environment in baseball and will continue to make that a top priority."

There was no comment from the Dodgers about how they intend to protect Giants fans at Friday's game.

Stow's AMR family knows this will be a long recovery. They've already started taking donations to help his family, since Stow is a father of two. Also, Some of employees at AMR are offering to give up some of their own vacation and sick time to Stow, so he can take the time he needs to recover. They're also planning a barbeque fundraiser for him next week.

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