In the wake of a Dodger fan’s slaying just blocks away from AT&T Park in San Francisco, police and Giants officials are unrolling heavier than normal security for Thursday night’s game, officials said.
The Giants-Dodgers games, as well as football games between the Cowboys and 49ers, trigger what San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr referred to Thursday as a "rivalry package" of enhanced police staffing. The same package was in effect Wednesday when 24-year-old Jonathan Denver was stabbed to death a few blocks away from the ballpark.
At Thursday's game, Suhr said, some officers working the game will be wearing Dodgers gear.
Denver was stabbed to death about 90 minutes after the Giants defeated the Dodgers Wednesday 6-4. Denver was wearing Dodgers blue and police said the brawl between two crowds of people started with a discussion of the teams' rivalry.
"Obviously, this is one of the most storied rivalries in baseball," said Suhr. But "there is no place for violence. Please be respectful of everybody rooting for whoever they want to root for."
"Although...the suspects were not at the game and the victim had left. the fact that anybody got in a beef over the Giants versus Dodgers and someone lost their life, it's just senseless."
But there’s only so much that sports teams and stadium security can do to prevent violence among fans, said Lou Marciani, director of the Center for Spectator Sports Security Management at the University of Southern Mississippi.
“We can’t prevent things from happening in the United States obviously,” Marciani said. “You can reduce risk by having a good security plan in place and responding effectively.”
Los Angeles and Bay Area fans alike said the rivalry is good natured. It's just a game, they say.
"For a lot of folks, it's not just a game," Marciani said. “It’s part of their modus operandi. It’s a nation. It’s a nation through social media and they’re engaged more and more, as part of acceptance, as part of something. They’re emotionally wrapped up in it.”
These types of fans can have short fuses, he added.
“Anything can be a trigger,” Marciani said. “Loss of a game, loss of a player, cussing at them or too much alcohol.”
The Giants and Dodgers both issued a statement on the slaying Thursday.
“We were deeply saddened to learn of last night’s horrific incident that occurred several blocks from the ballpark and resulted in the tragic death of 24-year-old Jonathan Denver. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time.”
The Dodger's echoed the sentiment.
“There is no rational explanation for this senseless act which resulted in Jonathan's death. The pain that this has caused his family and friends is unimaginable," the statement read.
The teams planned to observe a moment of silence before Thursday’s game begins.