Police arrest 21 during melee; gunfire heard in crowd

Originally Published: March 19, 2007
ESPN.com news services

NEW YORK -- Fights between fans during a championship high school basketball game at Madison Square Garden turned into a melee that spilled into the streets and subways, drawing police on horseback and in riot gear.

Gunfire was heard as the crowd went from the arena Sunday night to Times Square, but no injuries were reported, police said.

About 21 people, mostly teenagers, were arrested, police said. Some were charged with disorderly conduct or resisting arrest and one was arrested on a riot charge.

A 17-year-old boy was arrested at a subway station on a charge of criminal possession of a weapon. He may have fired the shots, police said.

A WCBS-TV camera crew inside the arena caught images of fights breaking out in the stands, including a girl slapping a boy, who then swung around and hit her. Other boys jumped him, and police broke up the fight.

The WCBS-TV footage also showed police swinging batons at someone who cannot be seen, and the station reported that they were hitting a fan. The police said the incident was under investigation, but had no further comment.

"All attendees were fully screened by security prior to their entrance into the building," Madison Square Garden authorities said in a statement. "No injuries were reported at MSG during the event, and in order to maintain order, security personnel ejected several hundred individuals from the building. We have offered our assistance to the NYPD to help identify event attendees that may have continued to engage in disorderly conduct after leaving the Garden."

After the crowd left the Garden, dozens of officers were called in, some on horseback and others in riot gear. Several fights broke out in nearby subway stations.

The Public Schools Athletic League's AA division city championship high school basketball game was between Brooklyn rivals Boys & Girls and Lincoln, which produced NBA notables Stephon Marbury and Sebastian Telfair.

The fights started in the third quarter, distracting and displacing many in the crowd of thousands, the New York Times said Monday. Lincoln won 77-50.

"Given the security concerns, we will be evaluating whether to host this event in the future and will have no additional comment at this time," the MSG statement said.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.