49ers fan in coma after apparent beating outside SoFi Stadium during NFC championship
Police are investigating the apparent beating of a San Francisco 49ers fan found severely injured in the parking lot of SoFi Stadium during Sunday’s NFC championship game against the Rams.
Daniel Luna, a restaurant owner from Oakland, remains hospitalized at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in what Inglewood police said was a medically induced coma.
Luna, 40, was discovered on the ground by Los Angeles County Fire Department paramedics in the stadium’s Lot L about 4 p.m., half an hour into the Rams-49ers contest, said Inglewood Police Lt. Geoffrey Meeks. Luna was wearing a San Francisco jersey and black pants, Meeks said.
Emergency room staff at Harbor-UCLA noted wounds suggesting Luna had been attacked and contacted Inglewood police later that night.
“They believe he suffered from an assault at the stadium to his upper body and facial area,” Meeks said. Detectives are working with stadium officials to determine what happened to Luna, he said.
“We are relying heavily on video to try to identify the people involved,” he said. “We are going to leave no stone unturned.”
Inglewood’s mayor called the incident “a small altercation that went very bad,” saying one punch caused the man to fall and hit his head.
More than 70,000 people were on hand Sunday to see the Rams best the 49ers 20-17 to advance to the Super Bowl, which SoFi Stadium will host Feb. 13. So many San Francisco fans were expected that the wives of some L.A. players campaigned on social media to give away tickets to Rams supporters.
A spokeswoman for the stadium declined to comment on Luna’s case, citing the police investigation.
Luna grew up in the Bay Area and owns a Peruvian fusion restaurant, Mistura, on Piedmont Avenue in Oakland, according to published reports about the restaurant. Its website Wednesday indicated it was temporarily closed. Luna’s wife was at the hospital with him and, she said in a brief phone call, too upset to speak.
Luna flew to L.A. and attended the game alone after other fans who were to accompany him canceled, said Vernon Hill, a friend from Oakland who is in touch with his family. He said Luna usually chronicled his outings in photos and shared them with friends and relatives, but they did not receive the usual pictures Sunday night.
He said that Luna still had his watch, wallet and phone when taken to the hospital, suggesting robbery was not a motive. Police said they could not confirm those details.
Until The Times sought to confirm Hill’s account, authorities had not released a public statement about the attack.
On Wednesday, hours before The Times revealed the attack, public health officials, local leaders and football representatives held a press conference to discuss COVID-19 safety protocols ahead of the Super Bowl. But the beating was never mentioned.
“I don’t want this to happen to anyone else,” Hill said. “They are having the Super Bowl there.”
The circumstances of Luna’s injuries shared some similarities with one of the darkest days in L.A. sports history, the brutal 2011 beating of San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow in the Dodger Stadium parking lot. Two men were convicted in the attack that left Stow, a paramedic, with brain damage.
Meeks said that thus far in the investigation, “we have not come across any information” suggesting Luna was targeted for being a 49ers fan.
SoFi Stadium released a statement Thursday saying: “We are aware and saddened by the incident. Our thoughts are with Mr. Luna’s friends and family during this difficult time. We are working with law enforcement officials in their investigation.”
The stadium didn’t address when officials learned of the beating, and a spokeswoman declined to comment further.
The 49ers said Thursday that “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. Our thoughts and prayers go to Mr. Luna, his family, friends and the medical team providing him care.”
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