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2 Held in Shooting in Dodger Stadium Lot

September 21, 2003|Stephanie Chavez, Steve Hymon and Ross Newhan | Times Staff Writers

Police detained two suspects and were searching for another Saturday in the shooting death of a 25-year-old San Francisco Giant fan in the parking lot of Dodger Stadium, an incident that authorities said had been triggered by a decades-old baseball rivalry.

Two families leaving the game during the eighth inning of the game won by the Giants Friday night apparently traded words about the teams, police said. The dispute culminated when Mark Allen Antenorcruz, of Covina, was shot twice after a man he was arguing with pulled a .25-caliber semiautomatic handgun from his family's white SUV, police said.

Antenorcruz was taken to nearby Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, where he died 36 minutes after the 10 p.m. shooting, according to Los Angeles County Coroner's officials.

Police would not identify any of the suspects or say who they believe fired the shots. A man and his sister were being held Saturday. A third family member was questioned and released. A fourth member of the family, a 17-year-old South Gate man, was still being sought.

Authorities offered few details about what had led to the attack. The victim's family holds Dodger season tickets. Antenorcruz attended school in Northern California and was a Giant fan.

Members of the victim's family, including his stepfather, James Vega, said the shooting had been "definitively unprovoked." He said that his two sons had both been cheering, one for the Dodgers and the other for the Giants, as they walked to their car when Antenorcruz was suddenly shot. Antenorcruz wasn't wearing any Giant apparel because he "didn't want any trouble," Vega said.

While there have been many serious incidents of fan-on-fan attacks at sporting events in the United States over the years, this appears to be one of the few times that team loyalty may have led to the shooting death of a fan at either a pro baseball or a pro football game, according to baseball officials and a National Football League spokesman.

There has been no love lost between the Giants and Dodgers since the early 1900s, when the teams were cross-town rivals in New York City. Both clubs moved to California after the 1957 season and immediately renewed their hostilities on opening day in San Francisco in 1958.

Today, the rivalry usually manifests itself in good-natured ribbing and sometimes a few brawls in the stands. Team officials with the Dodgers said they could not recall a similar incident. Nevertheless, they beefed up security for Saturday night's game, which was attended by 54,488. Friday night's game drew 51,612 fans.

Dodger President Bob Graziano issued a statement on the shooting: "We are deeply saddened by last night's incident. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victim and his family. The safety of our fans has always been, and will always be, our No. 1 priority here."

Derrick Hall, a Dodger senior vice president, said that the shooting had been an isolated incident and that the team remained confident that the stadium is a safe place to visit. "We've been criticized for being too harsh with security," Hall said. "This is why ... we watch every inch of the stadium."

Police ruled out gang activity as a motive for the attack, but said that alcohol had probably been a contributing factor. "It's clear that the argument was related to the game," said Deputy Chief Gary Brennan of the Los Angeles Police Department.

After the attack, Antenorcruz's stepbrother ran after the vehicle carrying the suspected shooter, desperately trying to get the license-plate number, said Vega, the stepfather.

But the car quickly outraced him. The stepbrother, Vega said, pounded on the window of a passing car and told the occupants, " 'They just shot my brother. Can you follow them and get their license?' "

That car then followed the white SUV for one mile as it raced off stadium grounds, according to police. A passenger jotted down the plate number, returned to the stadium and gave it to police.

Police traced the white SUV to a home in an unincorporated area near Whittier. Early Saturday morning, police took three people into custody who had been in the SUV at the game.

Antenorcruz was at the Dodger game with his sister, brother and a friend, Vega said. Antenorcruz had become a Giant fan while living in the Bay Area and attending a community college near Berkeley, Vega said during an interview Saturday at the family's hillside home in Covina.

He said that Antenorcruz, who lived at the family home, had been studying graphic arts at Mt. San Antonio College and had been working as a bookkeeper. He had hoped to attend graduate school at UC Berkeley. As a child, he had done some modeling in catalogs and had a brief role as a lost boy in the 1991 film "Hook."

In the seconds after he was shot, Antenorcruz's sister Brandy held him in her arms while screaming for help, Vega said. She attempted to dial 911 on her cell phone but got a busy signal, he said.

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