March 11, 2013 in City

Downtown melee blamed on athletes

Basketball players from USC involved, some witnesses say
By The Spokesman-Review
 
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Spokane police are investigating a rolling fight that occurred in downtown Spokane on Sunday morning and sent four people to the hospital.

Witness reports claimed two of those involved are members of the University of Southern California’s men’s basketball team, but Spokane police Officer John Gately said officers had not officially identified any team members as part of the investigation.

“We had a large fight. We have not been able to find any connection to any sports team,” Gately said. “Some of the witnesses said USC, but others said Arizona State and USF (University of San Francisco).”

The USC Trojans were staying in Spokane following a 76-51 loss to Washington State University in Pullman.

Noel Macapagal, an employee and former owner of The Wave Island Sports Grill and Sushi Bar, said fellow employees called him at about 1 a.m. Sunday saying they needed help because several of them had been assaulted at a nearby lounge.

“We had a person knocked out cold, a female employee who suffered a broken nose and another employee with a broken jaw as well,” Macapagal said.

Tim Tessalone, a USC athletics spokesman, confirmed the players were staying in Spokane after the game but said he had not heard of any internal reports about fights.

“We are just learning of this report,” Tessalone said. “We are just kind of looking into it and trying to find out the facts.”

Macapagal said the fracas apparently started when words were exchanged between the players and an employee of The Wave inside the Marquee Lounge at 522 W. Riverside Ave.

“The basketball players followed this individual and sucker-punched him. While he was out cold, the player punches the girl, who suffered a broken nose,” Macapagal said.

The fight broke up, but Macapagal joined the employees and they later located the players at the Satellite Diner at 425 W. Sprague Ave.

“Another fracas breaks out with the 7-footer. His friend, another 7-footer, comes out of the Satellite and proceeds to start hitting people in the crowd,” Macapagal said. “One victim got knocked out who had nothing to do with this situation. And the player was kicking the guy who was down.”

Spokane police arrived and spoke to the victim of the assault at the Satellite, but the players had already left.

“You are not going to hide two 7-footers in downtown Spokane,” Macapagal said.

The employees learned the players were staying at the Davenport Hotel, so they walked there and waited for officers. Macapagal said officers did not respond to the Davenport.

“The Spokane Police Department was called at least six times,” he said.

Gately said the reports gathered at the Satellite will be turned over to detectives for further review.

“We have not found any connection to any sporting team,” he said. “I’m not saying it couldn’t have been, but we haven’t found a connection.”


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