Violence erupts outside stadium

By Ron Leir

Police are looking at ways of tightening security around the Red Bull Arena in the wake of three stabbings that happened outside the soccer stadium during Labor Day weekend, Harrison Police Chief Derek Kearns said.
Soccer madness triggered at least one act of violence and may have led to the two other
incidents, police said.

At this time, police have made no arrests in connection with the episodes – all stabbings – but are continuing to investigate, according to Det. Sgt. Ed Markowski.
The events began unfolding at about 10:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 3, after a game featuring teams from Colombia and Honduras.
Investigators learned that a dispute arose among some soccer fans in a private parking lot on the perimeter of the stadium.
The argument, police said, is believed to have stemmed from the outcome of a match being played that day by local Colombian soccer teams in that country. Rival fans were taunting each other when the angry words escalated into violence and somebody slashed a 19-year-old Dover resident in his lower back.
That man was taken by ambulance to University Hospital in Newark where he received eight stitches to close the wound and was later released, police said.
Meanwhile, on a street outside the stadium, another man was stabbed by an unknown assailant. He was also taken to University Hospital, treated and released.
Police said they were not able to learn much about the man, except that he had apparently been staying with friends in Morristown. “We weren’t able to get a description of his attacker or the motivation for the attack,” Markowski said.
In the third incident, police said, a 27-year-old Morristown man and his wife were walking in another private parking lot, also near the stadium, when the man spotted someone throwing bottles.
Next thing he knew, police said, the man was stabbed in the back.
The victim was taken to University Hospital where he was given four stitches and released, police said.
“On the basis of our investigation thus far,” Markowski said, “we believe (the second and third) victims were randomly stabbed and that there was no motivation for these attacks.”
“It looks like a little bit of ‘wilding,’ ’’ Markowski said.
All three victims were spectators at the Colombia/Honduras match, he said.
Asked if local police and/or Red Bull personnel planned to beef up security in the wake of these incidents, Markowski said: “That’s being assessed.”
These disturbances may have been “unique,” he said, since the game had an international flavor.
The game wasn’t a sell-out although the stadium management had anticipated more tickets to have been sold, Markowski said.
“I think there were a greater number of tailgaters,” he added.
Kearns said he planned to meet this week with the owners of private parking lots around the stadium to discuss “increasing security in and around those lots.”
“We need more (enforcement) visibility to deter people from acting out,” Kearns said.
He said that “tailgating could be a contributing factor” leading to disruptive activities.
How police plan for the public’s protection on game days at the arena “depends on the number of fans,” the chief said.
“For up to 10,000 people,” he said, “we’ll generally provide 15 to 18 uniformed officers. If it’s a sell-out (about 25,000 spectators), we’ll have about 25 officers working.” In each case, at least one plainclothes detective will be in the mix, to handle investigative duties, he said.
Before the game starts, officers are concentrated at the gates outside the arena but when the game begins, they shift to posts inside, Kearns said.
All the officers are working “off-duty” hours and are paid by the Red Bulls, the chief said.
Those officers are supplemented by members of the Hudson County Sheriff’s Office who are assigned to traffic details outside the stadium, he said.

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