It’s the phone call that you dread receiving. The kind that makes your heart sink into the pit of your stomach. You hear the words, but they don’t completely sink in. You experience tunnel vision and the numbness takes over. It is amazing how the body reacts to stress. This is what we experienced on September 17, 2004.
The words from the caller, a friend of our son, were that he was unconscious and had been transported to San Francisco General Hospital and he had been attacked. My wife and son’s girlfriend left immediately for the hospital. I was told to stay home and field phone calls.
It had only been 45 minutes earlier that our son had called the house in a euphoric state from the ballpark. He had attended the game specifically to be present when Barry Bonds hit his historic 700th home run. Carlos, a rabid Giants fan, is my adult step-son. He bleeds orange and black like I bleed blue. His dedication to the Giants is to the point that he desecrated, (term I use), his body with a Giants tattoo that covers his back from shoulder blade to shoulder blade. “He hit it so close to us, I thought I had a chance to get it,” he said as he reported the event of the homer to me over the phone. “That’s great,” I said. “Have fun.” It never dawned on me that his life would be in danger.
We knew the game was over, so a call from the friend was certainly unusual. My wife barely knew the voice of the person that called. “What happened?” were the words of my wife. “They were gang members, and they wanted to fight,” was the reply.
So as it has been reported and rerun, time after time again in court room testimony, the events went as follows. Carlos and his four friends were in a celebratory mood following the Giant win and the Bonds homer. As they joyfully walked to their car, one of them inadvertently brushed a car mirror with his coat. The occupants of that vehicle got out and challenged them to a fight. Words were exchanged. Carlos, who was 20-25 feet ahead of everyone turned around to see one of his friends being punched by a group of four persons. Testimony in court was that he responded like a “wild man” to his defense, throwing a punch so hard that he broke his wrist. But the numbers were too much for him. Carlos, at the time, an outfielder on the local community college baseball team, was probably in the best shape of his life at the time, but he was struck down with a blow to the head from behind.
His friend was already down and bleeding. One of the thugs had pulled a knife and plunged it into his heart. Within minutes he friend Tim was dead.
Carlos, unconscious and on the ground, then received some kicks to the head. The cowards then got into their car and shouted some gang related words, bloating of their accomplishment as they sped off.
That was it, an incident that lasted about 30-40 seconds. Leaving a young 21 year old man dead and another unconscious.
When I arrived at the hospital emergency room, I informed at the E.R. desk who I came to see. They nurse asked if he was a victim of the ballpark attack. I said “yes” and they directed me to a room. I started to enter and saw a number of people in a grieving state, crying and being comforted. I knew none of them. At that moment a policeman asked for my son’s name and when I told him, he quickly shuttled me to another area where my wife was. I told my wife what I had witnessed and said I think that someone has died and she said to me, “No, Carlos is fine.” And I said, “and the others. I was just sent to a room where clergy was comforting a family.” It was then that our daughter returned to our waiting area and confirmed that someone had been killed.
What subsequently followed for our son over the past several years were numerous interviews with detectives, private investigators and attorneys. The search for the killer that fled to Mexico, who was eventually apprehended a month and a half after the murder. Getting to know the family of the slain boy and the nearly impossible task of trying to help them in their grief. Carlos’ feelings of guilt over the incident and the psychological trauma of the event. Dealing with rumor after rumor, some of which unbelievably actually blamed Carlos for the incident. Pre-trial testimony and court room testimony. Delay after delay for a speeding trial to occur, until, finally, four years after the attack, it finally took place. Negotiations with one of the other attackers, who eventually testified against the killer in exchange for a lessor sentence. The verdict, which was second degree murder, and eventual sentencing (16 years to life). Threats from the family of the assailant against my wife that testified in the sentencing hearing. There was so much more. I don’t wish these events on anyone.
Associated Press article on trial’s outcome:
Oct 11, 2008
SAN FRANCISCO (AP)—A California man has been sentenced to 16 years to life in prison for fatally stabbing a fellow baseball fan after a San Francisco Giants game four years ago.
Rafael Cuevas was sentenced Friday after a jury convicted him of second-degree murder for killing Tim Griffith on Sept. 17, 2004, the night slugger Barry Bonds hit his 700th home run.
The 26-year-old had testified that he stabbed Griffith in the chest in self-defense during a confrontation outside the Giants ballpark.
San Francisco Superior Court Judge Cynthia Lee ordered Cuevas to begin serving his sentence immediately and to pay $10,000 in restitution.
Information from: San Francisco Chronicle, http://www.sfgate.com/chronicle
Our son has suffered a number of setbacks in life since the incident. It has truly been a nightmare for him, and today, seven years after the event, he seems to be pulling forward with his life. But it took a while. The most difficult thing he has had to deal with is his lack of memory of the incident. Knocked down and kicked in the head into unconsciousness, the defense took advantage of his amnesia and attempted to place all the blame on him. Thankfully, there were enough witnesses to the incident to prove their deceit.
The family of Tim? They were thoroughly devastated and hold annual events in his memory. You can see the latest events chronicled in the link below:
They are such good people and I feel so terrible for the suffering that they have had to endure.
The San Francisco Giants were very helpful and giving to all the families of the victims from the date of the incident. Larry Baer specifically reached out to all of us. I was so impressed with the class and dignity they displayed when dealing with this incident that shed little positive light on their organization. They never cowered to publicity out of fear that they would be criticized for lax security around their ball park. It was the exact opposite with them. They put out messages on their diamond vision screen with sketches of the assailants in efforts to catch them. They also had a moment of silence for Tim and a day at the ballpark in his honor. J.T. Snow wrote his name on the infield dirt with his spikes and he showed up at the home of the grieving parents following a game that took place in the heart of the pennant race.
Today, a park bench, overlooking San Francisco Bay, sits in Tim’s memory at the sight of where he perished.
When Bryan Stow was attacked at the Dodger Stadium parking lot on opening day, I knew this would open old wounds in my mind. Someone asked me to tell this story and after contemplating it, I figure that if one additional person gives to the Bryan Stow foundation, then it is worth it.
When it comes to life. There is no team allegiance. Team colors fade. The morning after the attack, I went on the Giants message board and asked the readers, if any of them were present in the parking area, anyone that may have seen something, to please call the police. I was shocked at some of the responses of people that checked my profile and found out I was a Dodger fan, (I was a regular poster on the Dodger board at the time), and accused me of making the whole thing up. It was quite disturbing to say the least. And many came on the message board and started blasting those that had derogatory things to say about me once the story had hit the media. I can’t tell you how much I regretted posting that plea for help when it was received with those ugly comments and accusations at first. I saw a repeat of that this past week, as team allegiances surpassed common sense with some people.
I am so impressed with the Stow family, who in their grief and turmoil, saw above the negativity and have unified fans of both sides with kind words. That family deserves so much support from us all. We are all fans of that family and baseball should be the furthest thing from our minds.
I highly encourage all to contribute to the Bryan Stow fund. I can't stress enough the importance in catching these assailants. I wish Bryan the best. I know his injuries are severe and that a lot of lives have been changed forever by this senseless act. I want to offer my support, thoughts and prayers to him and his family in this difficult time.
Wonderful post, Evan. Such a compelling/moving tragic tale.ReplyDelete
Thank you for writing and sharing this - what a great way to put things into perspective. I'm sorry to your son and I'm sad for Tim's family. My hope is that with all the people involved in hearing these stories that we can touch lives and make this world a better place. Sounds cliche, but it's amazing how many wonderful people have already stepped forward... We can all do our part in stopping violence - ON ALL ACCOUNTS!ReplyDelete
Thank you for sharing your story. I'm happy that you did and I've deeply saddened myself by this entire episode. I grew up in the bay area as a Dodgers fan and let me tell you that I've encountered a great deal of fear and attack at Candlestick over the years, and this was as a 12 yr old with just his Mom taking him to the game. My mother and I were spit on, had food and other things thrown at us at a constant and steady pace, and were just generally hated by people. It infuriated me, not because they were attacking me but because my dear mother had to be the recipient of all of it too.ReplyDelete
It reached a point where I gave up and quit going to games at Candlestick all together!
I remember many Dodgers fans getting attacked, all the windows bashed in on cars that carried anything related to the Dodgers like stickers on them, and I can recall at least one murder of a Dodgers fan after a game. It was the mid 80s and fan violence was not a big topic of discussion. I carried a great deal of animosity for anything to do with the Giants for the next 15+ years.
I guess the point I've wanted to make was that Dodger Stadium and Dodgers fans are not the only culprits of fan violence and that its been happening for a VERY long time, as evident by your story as well. I'm extremely impressed by the cooperation and efforts of both Dodgers and Giants and their respective fans. And I'm glad that bloggers, media, and organizations have finally rallied around the cause and efforts to donate to the victim's family. This is a dark time in baseball and humanity. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and with everyone who has ever been a victim of fan violence.
amen Evan. Blessings to you and your family.ReplyDelete
God bless you and your family Evan. Thanks for sharing.ReplyDelete
you had me in tears reading this. Thanks for sharing. I will share it with others. Heading to San Diego soon.
Evan, thanks for sharing such a personal story. I linked it on my blog, it's a must read for all baseball fans.ReplyDelete