Giovanni Ramirez held on $1 million bail
LOS ANGELES -- A tip from a parole officer led to the arrest Sunday evening of one of the suspects involved in the brutal attack on San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow outside of Dodger Stadium on Opening Day.
Police booked 31-year old Giovanni Ramirez of Los Angeles for assault with a deadly weapon and are holding him on $1 million bail. He was apprehended early Sunday morning during a dramatic raid by S.W.A.T officers at an apartment in the Rampart area of Los Angeles, approximately five miles from Dodger Stadium.
Ramirez is believed to be the "primary aggressor" in the Stow beating, Los Angeles Chief Charlie Beck said at an afternoon news conference at the stadium. However police are still looking for the other suspect in the attack, and a woman wearing an Andre Ethier jersey who helped the suspects flee in a white Mitsubishi or Acura after the attack.
Stow suffered brain damage in the attack and remains in critical condition at San Francisco General Hospital.
The reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Stow's attackers grew to over $250,000 after the Dodgers committed an additional $100,000 earlier this week. The reward is still being offered, as police continue their investigation.
The apartment building, located in the 800 block of North Mariposa Avenue, sits squarely in the territory of one of Los Angeles' most dangerous street gangs.
Beck acknowledged Sunday that the area where Ramirez was apprehended is the territory of several street gangs, but would not say whether Ramirez was part of one of those gangs.
Several neighbors interviewed by ESPNLosAngeles.com said they believed he was and that they feared retribution for speaking to reporters or the police about Ramirez.
"We still have to live around here," said a man in his late 40s, who was sitting outside a house next door to the apartment building where Ramirez was apprehended Sunday morning. The man said he did not wish to be identified because he feared retribution, but he said that he knew Ramirez and had spoken to him recently.
"You only get the reward after he is convicted and we still have to live here until then."
Beck, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Councilman Ed Reyes and Dodgers vice president Howard Sunkin were all present at the news conference.
Beck said the department had received more than 630 leads from the public and other sources in the seven-week investigation. Twenty of the departments top detectives worked more than 6,000 combined hours on the case, chasing tips from San Francisco to San Diego.
Police said tips in the case dramatically increased after 300 billboards with composite sketches of the suspects were put up around the city over the last two weeks, a gesture funded by Lamar Advertising Co.
Beck seemed emotional as he hailed the work of those detectives and recalled the phone call he received from assistant chief Earl Paysinger early Sunday morning, informing him the operation had been successful.
"He said the words I've been waiting for for seven weeks. He said that we had Bryan's assault suspect in custody," Beck said. "This is a huge step."
I can't even tell you the emotions that we're going through right now.” -- Bonnie Stow, Bryan's sister
Police served warrants at two locations Sunday morning, the apartment building on North Mariposa and a house a few blocks away. Ramirez was taken into custody and later booked, several other people were detained for questioning and evidence was seized at both locations.
A young woman who identified herself only as Isabel answered the door at the other location Sunday afternoon and confirmed the early-morning raid. She declined to comment publicly however.
A neighbor who lived across the street from the house and identified himself as Lorenzo, said that police had ordered the family that lives in one of the units outside shortly before 7 a.m.
"It was loud enough to wake the whole neighborhood up," Lorenzo said. "It was crazy. They had M-16s, full body armor, they shut the whole street down. At first we went outside to see what was happening, but the police told us to go back inside very quickly.
"I didn't know it had anything to do with the incident at Dodger Stadium. But if it did, I'm glad they got him. That was a bad thing that happened there."
Captain Bill Murphy of the Northeast Division told ESPNLosAngeles.com that four to five individuals were detained at the apartment building and that the suspects surrendered voluntarily when they were ordered out of the building by police, using a loudspeaker.
One of the men was bald, with tattoos on his neck and arms and a distinctive mole on the left side of his face, a description which appeared to match the police sketches of one of the two suspects.
"We knew we'd get them eventually," said Murphy, who committed 10 of his 40 detectives to the investigation. "We knew someone would come forward with the break we needed.
"This has been our No. 1 priority by far. This attack changed everything for people and we can't live with that. We needed to get this done so that baseball is the focus again, people feel comfortable going to Dodger Stadium with their families again."
Since the attack Beck has noticeably beefed up the police presence at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers agreed to pay for the increased security.
"The LAPD has tried to do two things since the vicious assault on Bryan Stow," Beck said. "The first is ensure safety at Dodger Stadium and we' have done that. Even though the crowds have been small, this has been the safest stadium in the country during these past [few] series and it will continue to be so.
"But this, this piece is even more important. For a police department to be relevant in its city, it has to be effective. You have to be able to count on your police department to solve crime and put thugs, like this individual, in jail. That's what we've done."
Stow, who was wearing Giants gear, was leaving the game at Dodger Stadium with two friends when he was attacked. Moments earlier, Stow texted a family member to say he feared for his safety in the rowdy crowd.
Stow's sister said police called her family Sunday morning to inform them about the search warrants.
"I can't even tell you the emotions that we're going through right now," Bonnie Stow told KABC-TV, occasionally choking back tears. "To be excited is the least we can say."
An outpouring of support for Stow included fundraisers that ranged from bowling tournaments to pasta dinners to donated services such as haircuts and fitness classes. The events are listed on the family's blog.
San Francisco mayor Ed Lee said after hearing the news Sunday he called Villaraigosa to express his thanks for the efforts of LA authorities and to congratulate him.
"That sort of brutality is totally unacceptable," Lee said of the attack. "It's not only unacceptable, but needs to be dealt with. Our hearts are still open for a full recovery of Mr. Stow."
"There were a lot of people who wondered whether we'd find these individuals," Villaraigosa said. "I never had any doubt that the men and women of the LAPD would work tirelessly to find this individual and all of the individuals in this matter."
Dodgers owner Frank McCourt was out of town Sunday and could not attend the news conference. He released a statement which was read by Sunkin.
"On behalf of the Dodger organization and our fans, I want to extend our most sincere appreciation and 'thank you' to Chief Charlie Beck and the men and women of the Los Angeles Police Department," McCourt said.
"From the outset, the chief made an unwavering commitment to do everything possible to find and apprehend the suspects in the brutal and cowardly attack that took place against Mr. Stow on Opening Day."
Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he heard Sunday morning that a suspect was in custody.
"Great news. It's been hard on the family," Bochy said before the Giants hosted Oakland. "For them to work as hard as they have been, I'm talking about the police department, to have a suspect in hand is great news. Hopefully they'll catch everybody who was involved in this senseless act."
Giants team officials also released a statement commending Los Angeles police and thanking "the community for its tremendous support for the Stow family during this difficult time."
Ramona Shelburne is a reporter and columnist for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.