Stun gun used at 9/11 football game; ex-president is at game
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A football fan who angered another man by not standing during the singing of the national anthem allegedly pulled out a stun gun and jolted his heckler Sunday, sparking pandemonium in a crowd already edgy on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
The incident occurred during the Dallas Cowboys-New York Jets game at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. Video shows fans scrambling to get away from the man and yelling angrily at his ability to enter the stadium with the weapon despite extra security that included bomb-sniffing dogs and car checks. Fans also were patted-down upon entry, and bags were checked.
Former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura Bush, were among those at the game, but there’s no indication they were aware of the melee, which occurred during halftime in the stadium’s upper deck seating.
‘How did he get in here with that thing?’ one man yelled as he fled the chaos. ‘How ... did that happen?’
That’s something nobody has been able to explain. Several media reports, quoting New jersey police, identified the arrested man as Leroy McKelvey of South Carolina and said the 59-year-old was charged with three counts of aggravated assault and two weapons charges.
In a statement, the MetLife Stadium chief executive, Mark Lamping, said nobody was seriously hurt in the incident and that security measures were in effect at all entry gates. He described the weapon as ‘an illegal Taser the size of a small cellphone’ and carried in the man’s pocket.
The Jets won the game 27-24.
The New York Daily News quoted witnesses as saying the trouble began when a Marine in the same row as McKelvey became angry that McKelvey and his friends did not remove their hats or stand during the national anthem, and continued talking as taps and ‘Amazing Grace’ were played to honor victims of wars and of the September 2001 attacks.
The Marine, who was not identified, was at the end of the row and refused to let McKelvey get out to visit the restroom at halftime, which is when McKelvey pulled the stun gun, according to the witnesses.
The Marine fell down, and two other people suffered minor injuries.
McKelvey’s son, a New York radio deejay whose on-air name is Charlamagne Tha God, told the Daily News that his father suffered a broken nose in the melee and that he was attacked by Jets fans for wearing a Cowboys hat and jersey and showing Cowboys tattoos on his arm.
‘He shouldn’t have had a Taser on him. But I really feel he took a risk because he felt threatened,’ the son said, adding that his father is a Jehovah’s Witness and does not believe in standing either for the pledge of allegiance or national anthem. ‘He’s not a violent guy at all. He just likes to have fun,’ he said of his father.
Bail was set at $22,500.
There was no immediate word on whether the incident could spark a review of security procedures at NFL games, where fans regularly are subjected to searches of their bags. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in a statement reported by ESPN that the league is ‘always refining and improving our security procedures. These procedures have been successful in keeping items that can cause serious injuries out of our stadiums,’ the statement said. ‘We will continue to be vigilant in protecting the safety of our fans.’
[For the Record, 12:09 p.m. Sept. 14: An earlier version of this post characterized the device as a Taser in the headline and first paragraph. Taser is a trademark; an official with the company says the device in this instance was not a Taser.]
-- Tina Susman