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Thursday, September 26, 2013
Updated: September 28, 1:50 AM ET
Arrest made in fatal stabbing of fan

ESPN.com news services

SAN FRANCISCO -- The man who was fatally stabbed during a confrontation a few blocks from AT&T Park after the Dodgers-Giants game Wednesday night was the son of a Dodgers security guard, the team said Thursday.

Dodgers spokesman Jared Kaufer said that Jonathan Denver's father, Robert Preece, worked security at Dodger Stadium.

San Francisco police say Denver, 24, was walking with his father, brother and two other people not far from the Giants' ballpark after San Francisco's 6-4 victory when their group exchanged words with some Giants fans who were leaving a nightclub.

The exchange turned physical, and Denver, who was wearing Dodgers gear, was stabbed.

"There is no rational explanation for this senseless act," the Dodgers said in a written statement. "The pain that this has caused his family and friends is unimaginable."

Denver's group left the stadium in the eighth inning. His attackers did not attend the game.

San Francisco police said Michael Montgomery, 21, of Lodi, Calif., was arrested on suspicion of homicide in connection with the stabbing.

Montgomery's father said his son told him it was self-defense. Marty Montgomery told the Lodi News-Sentinel on Thursday that Michael Montgomery was jumped during the fight and that his son told him by phone that Denver had hit him over the head with a chair.

Michael Montgomery told his father that Denver yelled "Giants suck!" at Montgomery's friend, who was wearing a Giants hat, and that Denver and others hit Montgomery and his friends without warning.

Michael Montgomery and a friend went to Marty Montgomery's house in order to get the Giants hat before they left for San Francisco on Wednesday afternoon, his father said. They were going to attend a rave.

"If they didn't have the hat, they probably never would have been in this situation," Marty Montgomery said, adding that his son was not a passionate Giants fan.

Another person, whose name was not released, was also taken into custody.

"One of the suspects during the course of the interviews [with detectives] made incriminating statements that give us the indication that he will be the person booked for homicide," San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr told reporters. "We're trying to figure out what we're going to do with the other suspect. The investigation is still ongoing."

Denver's aunt, Janet Alvarado, told KNBC-TV in Los Angeles that he was a "gentle, sweet boy" who would never hurt anyone. Speaking from her home in Covina, she called his death senseless and said she had no idea how it happened. On Friday, Denver's grandparents wrote in a public statement that "this incident underlines a symptom of a society whose values seem to have deteriorated over time."

Police said they were looking for two more suspects. Police were canvassing the area Thursday looking for the weapon used to kill Denver and any surveillance video of the crime.

Fans of both teams expressed a range of emotions as they entered Thursday night's game at AT&T Park.

"I was a little bit scared at first but then I thought tonight will probably be the safest night at this ballpark, so I thought it was still OK to bring my son out to the game," said Clay Brust, a Dodgers fan from Reno, Nev.

Brian Chew, a Giants fan from San Bruno, Calif., said the stabbing was unfortunate.

"It seems like the passion that exudes in some fans is really pointed in the wrong direction," Chew said. "We have bigger purposes in life than just orange and black, or blue and white."

The altercation was the second violent confrontation between Dodgers and Giants fans in the past several years to end in death or serious injury. Bryan Stow, a Northern California paramedic and Giants fan, suffered a traumatic brain injury when two men dressed in Dodgers gear attacked him following the teams' March 31, 2011, game in Los Angeles.

Stow's family said in a statement that they were "horrified and deeply saddened" by Wednesday's violence. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family."

Suhr said that Denver, his father and his brother had left a bar around 11:30 p.m. when they got into a spat about the Giants-Dodgers rivalry with a group of people leaving a nightclub. At first, Suhr said, no one was seriously hurt in the fight that occurred about 90 minutes after the game ended. But it picked up again a few minutes later, Suhr said, who added it wasn't clear who started the second fight but that it ended with Denver's stabbing.

The Giants and Dodgers are longtime division rivals, and passions tend to run high when the teams play. The Giants won the World Series last year but will miss the playoffs this year. The Dodgers, meanwhile, have won the NL West.

"I think the message to all people, all fans, is it's a game," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "Leave it on the field."

Denver was born in Los Angeles County but was living in Fort Bragg, a city about 170 miles north of San Francisco, according to public records. He and his brother went to San Francisco to attend the game with their father, said Cas Smith, the owner of North Coast Plumbing in Fort Bragg, where Denver worked.

"He was a hardworking kid," Smith told San Jose-based KNTV.

Denver, who just started a job as a plumbing apprentice, did have two recent brushes with the law in Mendocino County, according to KGO-TV. He was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence in July and for public intoxication at the county fair this month.

Police said they didn't know whether alcohol was a factor in Wednesday's altercations.

In Fort Bragg, longtime friend Matt Gomes told KGO-TV that Denver was a die-hard Dodgers fan who "was a really great guy who would do anything for anybody and always put a smile on people's faces when he was around."

San Francisco police said they planned to have more officers on the streets, although they said that police presence is already higher for Giants-Dodgers games.

Violence has marred many other games between the teams. In 2003, Giants fan Marc Antenorcruz, 25, was fatally shot after an argument at Dodger Stadium.

Two Dodgers fans are awaiting trial on charges in the Stow beating, which sparked outrage and brought stadium security changes around the state and country.

The Giants have held occasional fundraisers for Stow. The team will donate $10 from each ticket sold in certain sections of AT&T Park at Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday's games to a fund set up for him, spokeswoman Staci Slaughter said.

Information from ESPNLosAngeles.com's Mark Saxon and The Associated Press was used in this report.