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Shooting Is Third Violent Episode at Prep Senior Bowl in 4 Years

August 12, 1993|SEAN WATERS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

A shooting that left a Washington High student slightly wounded after the recent Chris Mims-Los Angeles Prep Senior Bowl was the third outbreak of violence at the game in four years, but officials said there are no plans for increased security at future games.

Anthony Warren, a Washington tight end and outside linebacker who attended the game as a fan, was shot in the left thigh after arguing with another fan in the east parking lot of Veterans Stadium in Long Beach, site of the 17th annual Senior Bowl on July 30.

Warren, 17, was taken to Long Beach Community Hospital, where he was treated and released, according to hospital spokesman Mark Scott.

Long Beach Police Detective Julie Prior said the shooting is under investigation. Police have no suspects.

A dozen security guards, including six from Staff Pro security services, were on duty at the game, and 15 members of a semipro football team were hired as field security, according to Jerry Weiner, the organizer and promoter of the Senior Bowl. Staff Pro is a professional firm that has staffed Oakland A's, San Jose Sharks, Lakers, Kings and San Diego Chargers games. All of the security guards were inside the stadium when the shooting occurred.

Weiner said that in the wake of the shooting, he is considering an earlier starting time for next year's game rather than a 7:30 p.m. kickoff, but added that he has no other plans to change security procedures.

"I haven't given it any thought. I haven't heard any fallout from this situation. . . . even though a young man was wounded," he said.

Weiner said he was otherwise content with this year's game. Only one player--R.B. Bonner of Washington--suffered a major injury, and unlike previous contests, there were no fights between players.

The Senior Bowl features 90 of the top graduating seniors from 37 high schools in the Los Angeles, Pasadena, Compton, Inglewood and Westside communities. This year, the South-West all-stars kicked two field goals in the fourth quarter to beat the North-East stars, 6-0.

Weiner, 63, has promoted or assisted in the promotion of all-star football games since 1952. This year's Senior Bowl was one of four all-star games that Weiner has staged this summer. It is also the game that has given him the most trouble since he started it in 1977.

In 1990, referees halted the Senior Bowl at Veterans Stadium with a minute remaining because players were brawling. In 1991, gunfire caused fans to scatter from the Culver City High stands late in the first half. Officials stopped the game with 4:43 left in the third quarter when spectators scattered after a fight broke out in the stands.

The game's problems, at least from a financial standpoint, seemed to be alleviated when San Diego Charger defensive end Chris Mims agreed to donate $50,000 to it--$12,500 a game for 1992 through 1995, which will be extended if Mims' NFL career continues beyond 1995. Mims, of Dorsey High, was the game's most valuable player in 1988.

Weiner used some of the new funds to improve security. The 1992 game was played without incident on a Saturday afternoon at El Camino College.

But this year, problems began midway through the third quarter when a fight broke out near the concession stand. A fan became enraged when a medal was knocked off his lettermen's jacket, said Clyde Mailes of Staff Pro security. Initially, the fight involved two people, but grew to six when the combatants returned to the stands.

After the game, Warren was returning to his car with friends when he was accosted by two youths. According to the police report, the shooting suspect "got a small-caliber handgun and pointed at (Warren's) group, firing two shots. Everyone in the group went for cover. The suspect and another person fled in a Honda."

Said Weiner: "There is a limit to what we can do. We had increased professional security. We checked people with metal detectors. But there are still people who bring weapons to the game and may leave them in their cars so they don't get caught. What we might have here is nitroglycerin in a peaceful event."

About 2,500 fans attended the game, he said.

Weiner said he kept security on duty half an hour longer after he heard Warren had been shot. He said he was present when the ambulance came to take Warren to the hospital.

"He was on the ground partially under an automobile," Weiner said. "There was a telltale mark (a small hole in his pants leg and a bloodstain) on his thigh that he was hurt. At first, he said he didn't have any feeling in his leg, but that started to come back."

Warren's mother, Verna, said she warned her son about staying away from trouble.

"It was unfortunate that he got hit," Verna Warren said. "It was kind of a freak accident. I told him I didn't want him to go. But he said, 'It's dangerous in school, it's dangerous everywhere. You can't stay at home all the time.' "

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