A suspect wanted in a brutal attack that led to a San Francisco 49ers fan being placed in a coma is in police custody Friday.
CBS 2 reported Inglewood Mayor James Butts announced the suspect was traced to his home in Montebello via surveillance video that showed the suspect’s car inside the stadium lot and someone talking with the suspect. The name of the suspect has not been released by police.
“City and Police officials are currently in the process of preparing a statement to be released regarding the circumstances of this incident sometime today,” Inglewood police Lt. Geoffrey Meeks said in a statement to City News Service on Friday morning. A news conference is tentatively scheduled at 9 a.m.
Daniel Luna, the 49ers fan, allegedly shoved a man wearing a Rams jersey from behind during an altercation at Sunday’s NFC championship game at SoFi Stadium, Butts said at a Thursday evening news conference. Upon review of surveillance footage, investigators determined Luna was mingling with a group of people primarily wearing red 49ers jerseys when he allegedly shoved a man wearing a Rams jersey from behind, Butts said.
“The suspect then retaliated by pushing Mr. Luna from behind, and then struck (him) once in the mouth area,” Butts said. “Luna then fell to the ground, where he was later found by security personnel who summoned paramedics.”
The man who punched Luna was seen in the security footage interacting with the occupants of a vehicle following the altercation before he left the scene.
Authorities did not release a description of the man or the vehicle, and Butts said the security footage was “very blurry.” However, he said authorities obtained the vehicle’s license plate number and were attempting to locate and interview the owner.
Luna, who was wearing a 49ers jersey, was found injured in Parking Lot L of SoFi Stadium in Inglewood around 4 p.m. Sunday — about 30 minutes after the start of the Rams’ 20-17 victory over San Francisco that advanced them to Super Bowl LVI.
Luna was taken to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, where he was placed in a medically induced coma with extensive injuries to his face and upper body.
Due to the nature of Luna’s injuries, hospital officials notified Inglewood police about three hours after the altercation took place.
Butts deflected suggestions that the city and police delayed reports of Luna’s assault, claiming instead that authorities only learned of a crime occurred after reviewing the security footage.
“To be blunt about it, it looked like a small altercation that went very bad from one punch and someone hitting their head on the ground,” said Butts, a former Santa Monica Police Department chief and a deputy chief with the Inglewood Police Department.
SoFi Stadium officials issued a statement saying, “We are aware and saddened by the incident. Our thoughts are with Mr. Luna’s friends and family during this difficult time. We are working with law enforcement officials in their investigation.”
Former Los Angeles Police Department Assistant Chief Horace Frank said authorities should have been more transparent about the circumstances around Luna’s beating.
“You should have put out that information to the public because the perpetrator is a public safety hazard and a threat to the community,” Frank, who oversaw major game operations, told the Los Angeles Times. “You want to get the persons responsible for this heinous attack into custody as soon as possible.”
Meeks pushed back on the assumption that Inglewood officials attempted to conceal details of Luna’s attack from the public. “We don’t have anything to hide,” he told the Times.
The altercation was eerily reminiscent of the 2011 beating of San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow in a Dodger Stadium parking lot. Stow was left with permanent brain damage.
The 49ers issued a statement Thursday, saying, “What happened to Daniel Luna is reprehensible and we strongly condemn all violence. We know local authorities are conducting a full investigation and we’re here to support them however we can. Our thoughts and prayers go to Mr. Luna, his family, friends, and the medical team providing him care.”
Luna, 40, flew to Los Angeles and attended the game alone after other fans who were to accompany him canceled, the Times reported. He owns the Oakland Peruvian fusion restaurant Mistura.