LOS ANGELES—The Los Angeles Police Department are investigating a suspect who hit Rafel Reyna, 47, of Eastvale in the head and knocked him to the ground in the Lot 3 parking lot of Dodger Stadium on Saturday, March 30.
The attack occurred between 12:30 a.m. and 1:00 a.m, while leaving a game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks that began Friday evening.Reyna was involved in an argument with a young man and a young woman that escalated to the young man striking Mr. Reyes with a single punch. Mr. Reyes fell to the ground backwards and struck his head on the pavement leaving Rafel on life support, suffering a skull fracture and severe head trauma doctors at USC/LA County Medical Center told relatives.
Reyna is a father of four and was identified by his wife, Christel. Rafael’s family relied on his income from installing heating and air-conditioning systems. After being suggested to open a GoFundMe page, Christel posted a campaign with a $100,000 goal which as of April 4 has reached $18,521 and is currently trending.
“We are asking anyone with information to share what they know so we can catch whoever did this to my husband” said Christel on the website. “We need help to cover medical expenses. He was the main source of income for our family and somehow someway we need to make it through this. I anticipate some tough roads ahead of us, but we believe in the power of our Lord to heal him and carry our family through. Please continue to send your prayers for my husband. We can sure use a lot of them right now.”
Christel also posted on the site that she heard the entire attack by being on the phone with her husband during the attack. Christel told NBC 4 Los Angeles she was using the Facetime feature when she heard a woman yell “Why did you do that?” as a man approached her husband and cursed at him. The screen went black after she heard a crack. According Capt. Billy Hayes, its not possible to save a recording of the video off Facetime.
Only one witness , who came to Rafael’s aide after the attack and call medical services, has come forward to describe the attacker as being a man his 20s, with a clean-shaven face, wearing a grey sweatshirt, blue geans and a blue Dodgers hat. The witness also described a woman wearing a white Dodgers jersey accompanying the suspect. Both are believed to be Hispanic. The male suspect was described to be approximately 5 feet and 8 inches tall, weighing 150 pounds. The woman is believed to be around 5 feet and 4 inches tall with a thin build.
“What you have is two people who are fairly nondescript,” said Hayes on Thursday, April 4 at the Los Angeles Police Department’s downtown headquarters. “As you can imagine going to a Dodgers game, 90 percent of the people are in Dodgers wear, baseball caps or jersey.”
Another complication in the investigation included the lack of security camera footage from the parking lot itself where the attack occurred according to Hayes. Robbery and Homicide Division detectives have been examining countless hours of video surveillance footage from Dodgers Stadium but the the young man and woman have only been identified by one witness description according to a news release by LAPD.
“What we believe is that they did not know each other; that the incident stems from an incident that occurred contemporaneous to the altercation in the parking lot,” said Capt. Hayes.
“I know how this began, but I’m not willing to discuss it at this point in time,” Capt. Hayes said. “I’m trying to get an independent recollection of either the witnesses or these individuals rather than it be tainted with me putting anything out in the media.”
“We cannot express enough that we believe there are additional witnesses out there, individuals who are aware of the identities of this young man and this woman,” Hayes said. “We encourage them to come forward.” This is possible by contacting LAPD’s Robbery and Homicide Division at 213-486-6890.
The Department had a lead on the suspects vehicle, described as a white SUV, however once the vehicle was located the owners were determined not involved in the incident.
Rafel’s condition is improving. “As of Tuesday (April 2) we became aware that Mr. Reyes was removed from the ventilator and that he is breathing on his own and is regaining consciousness,” Hayes said. A news release by LAPD mentioned he is currently listed in critical, but stable condition.
According to Reyes, the family has hired a lawyer who requested that any inquiries regarding the investigation or Reyna’s health go through the attorney. Canyon News reached out to Reyna’s wife and her attorney, but did not hear back before print.
“It is unfortunate that a sudden altercation between two complete strangers resulted in one of them being injured,” the Dodgers said in a statement issued on Tuesday, April 2. “Because this matter is still under investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department, it would be inappropriate for us to comment further at this time.” The organization added that they are committed to the safety of fans and are cooperating with law enforcement.
Criticism against the stadium’s lighting and security were made by attorneys Carl Douglas and David Lira at a news conference.
“The facts between this incident and the Stow case are eerily similar,” said Lira, an attorney who proved the Dodgers organization negligent in the attack on Giants Fan Bryan Stow, of Santa Cruz, in 2011.
Cruz was critically injured when he was fighting with two Dodgers fans in the Dodger Stadium parking lot after the Dodgers and Giants opened the 2011 season. The jury awarded $18 million in damages to Stow and the Dodgers were held responsible for one quarter of the total.
A lawsuit against the Dodgers is not being discussed at the moment.
On the day of the attack, this was considered the longest regular-season game in Dodger Stadium history with Dodgers losing 5-4 against the Arizona Diamondbacks. The game lasted 6 hours and 5 minutes.