By Paul Pabst
John is a 23-year old student at San Diego State University who is due to graduate in four weeks. He is a native of Northern California and a lifelong San Francisco Giants fan. During his time in San Diego he has gone to Petco Park about a dozen times to see the Giants play the Padres . He usually wears full Giants gear.
On Tuesday, April 5, John put on his Giants hat, his Tim Lincecum jersey and even painted his face black and orange for the Padres home opener versus the Giants.
“You have to be prepared to get comments if you go to Petco wearing Giants stuff,” John said. “But nothing ever comes of it. I usually just head home after the game.”
After this game John and his girlfriend went for tacos in San Diego’s Old Town neighborhood, approximately five miles from Petco Park. After eating, John’s girlfriend left to take a friend home. John told her that he would take the trolley and meet her at their apartment. On his way home, John cut through an alley to catch a trolley. As he was walking, alone, he heard something.
“I heard footsteps and then I just got hit hard in the back of the head, ” John said. “I never saw them coming. I went to the ground and this group of guys just started kicking me. I curled up in a ball with my left side up. They kept kicking me in my ribs and head. It seemed like it went on for five minutes.”
John said that before the attack he had no run-ins with any Padres fans during or after the game in Old Town. But as he went down the alley, he did still have all his Giants gear on.
“They just kept kicking me and I thought, ‘This isn’t going to stop. Nobody’s going to help me. These guys might kill me if I stay here.’ So I counted to three and I popped up fast and took off running. I looked back and it was about seven guys chasing me.”
John ran hard to the first house he saw and started banging on the door. The owner came out and quickly called 911. When the group of attackers saw the owner come out with a phone, they stopped their pursuit and left the area. Soon the police and an ambulance showed up to treat John and take his statement.
According to San Diego Police John appeared intoxicated, but they confirmed that John reported a battery to them at 1:15am. John confirmed that he was drinking leading up to the incident, but stressed that he had no run-ins with anyone before the attack.
After speaking to John and the San Diego Police, it is not clear that John was attacked by Padres fans or because he was wearing Giants gear. The assault did not happen at or near Petco Park. But he was not robbed, though he had money and a wallet in his pocket. They stole his Giants hat, but did not take his wallet. John was just beaten, according to his statement, without provocation.
“The cops said that it would be tough to find out who did it with all the people around after the game,” John said. “They said they felt bad for me and mentioned what happened to the Giants fan at the Dodger game.”
At the hospital, John was diagnosed with a cracked rib and a concussion. The doctors gave him a CT scan because he was having trouble answering basic questions. He tried to call his girlfriend, who was unaware of the situation, but his cell phone battery was dead. In the early morning he left the hospital and went home.
Despite the head injuries, John remembers the attack and most of the details. He said he has red marks around his neck from when they were trying to rip his Giants jersey off his body.
“I remember that when I was down, getting kicked. They took my Giants hat and kept pulling my jersey … trying to strip it off me. So much so that it was kind of choking me. All I heard was cursing, laughing…’F— you, faggot’ and stuff like that.”
Surprisingly, John said that though he’s graduating San Diego State next month, if he were staying in San Diego he would continue to go to games when the Giants come to town and would continue to wear Giants hats and jerseys to the game. He added that he does not want to paint Padres fans a thugs, but he does believe that this group of men attacked him because of what he was wearing.
“I will go back,” John said. “I won’t go alone or leave alone. I will still wear what I want to wear, but I will just be smarter. I was only a block away from the trolley.”