A suspect has been arrested in connection with the SoFi Stadium attack that left a San Francisco 49ers fan in a medically induced coma, officials said.
Lt. Nicole Loudermilk of the Inglewood Police Department said a suspect was taken into custody Thursday night, but would not provide further details about the arrest.
Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts said the suspect was arrested at his Montebello home after surveillance video showed the suspect’s car inside the stadium lot, providing authorities with a license plate number, CBS 2 reported.
The suspect’s name has not been released.
The fan, 40-year-old Daniel Luna, was hospitalized after he was found bleeding in the stadium parking lot about half an hour into the Rams-49ers showdown on Sunday.
Officials faced increasing scrutiny this week for not informing the public about the incident for several days. During a news conference on Thursday evening, Butts said video had emerged showing people mingling in the parking lot when Luna allegedly pushed a man wearing a Rams jersey from behind.
The suspect then pushed Luna from behind, and struck him in the “mouth area,” Butts said. Luna then fell to the ground and hit his head.
A source with the Inglewood Police Department told The Times the suspect is claiming self-defense.
Luna is the owner of Oakland restaurant Mistura. He flew to L.A. and attended the game alone after other fans who were to accompany him canceled, according to a friend.
Luna’s wife, reached at the hospital on Wednesday, said in a brief phone call she was too upset to speak.
Inglewood Police Lt. Geoffrey Meeks denied there was an attempt to cover up Luna’s beating in the run-up to the Super Bowl, which will be held at the stadium on Feb. 13. It took three days and an inquiry from The Times before authorities acknowledged the incident.
“We don’t have anything to hide,” Meeks said, stating that the department’s silence was in keeping with standard practice for ongoing investigations.
Law enforcement experts said it was unconscionable for authorities to delay in revealing the incident.
“You should put out that information to the public because the perpetrator is a public safety hazard and threat to the community,” said Horace Frank, a former assistant Los Angeles police chief who oversaw major game security operations. “You want to get the persons responsible for this heinous attack into custody as soon as possible.”
Butts on Thursday similarly denied that Inglewood wanted to hide Luna’s injuries.
“Absolutely no, you don’t notify anyone every time you have an injured person…. There are all types of injuries that occur in crowds and you don’t call and hold a press conference to everyone,” he said.
The $5-billion stadium, which opened in 2020, has largely been seen as a boon to the community. The Super Bowl is projected to bring in as much as $477 million for the Los Angeles area, with total tax revenue up to $22 million, according to recent reports.
Sunday’s game, which saw the Rams best the 49ers 20-17 to advance to the Super Bowl, was attended by more than 70,000 people — including Gov. Gavin Newsom and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti — but so far no video footage of the incident has been made public.
The incident drew comparisons to the infamous 2011 beating of San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow outside Dodger Stadium.
Butts said it was inaccurate to liken the incident at SoFi to what happened to Stow.
“The situation in Dodger Stadium is nowhere comparable to this,” he said, “and to be blunt about it, it looked like a small altercation that went very bad…. It wasn’t like you had people ganging up on somebody and beating them.”
On Wednesday, hours before The Times revealed Luna’s injuries, public health officials, local leaders and representatives from the NFL and SoFi Stadium held a news conference to discuss COVID-19 safety protocols for the Super Bowl, but the incident with Luna was never mentioned.
In a statement to The Times, SoFi Stadium officials said they were “aware and saddened by the incident” and “working with law enforcement officials.”
The 49ers expressed a similar sentiment.
“What happened to Daniel Luna is reprehensible, and we strongly condemn all violence. We know local authorities in Los Angeles are conducting a full investigation and we’re here to support them however we can,” the team said in a statement.