[UPDATED: Oct. 6, 2013 @ 12:12 p.m.]
West LA’s football team realized they lost more than just the game on Saturday night when they returned to find their valuables missing from their locker room at Pierce’s John Shepard Stadium.
Sometime during the second half, the locker room was broken into and an undetermined amount of property was stolen, according to Pierce Sheriff’s Department Sergeant Gary Novelich.
The West L.A. players said iPads, iPods, cell phones, wallets and car keys were taken. One player said he had $2,000.
“At the conclusion of the game, once people from West LA College determined that their property was stolen, a fight occurred,” Novelich said. “I started heading up this way a couple minutes after 10 p.m. [to respond to the confrontation].”
Sheriffs lined up in a barricade with batons in an effort to keep the two teams away from each other. However, according to Sheriff’s Deputy Al Guerrero additional assistance was necessary from the LAPD, Lost Hills, the Transit Services Bureau, and the College Bureau after the crowd overflowed to the parking lot.
Out of frustration, the players also damaged mats and air vents, broke windows and a fence, and wrote on walls, according to Pierce Wide Receiver’s Coach and Assistant Equipment Manager Torrie Hughes, Athletics Director Bob Lofrano, and head coach Efrain Martinez.
During the chaos that followed, #57 defensive lineman Michael Addison of West LA College picked up a metal rod and headed into the crowd before a coach physically stopped him and took it from his hands.
“That’s bull,” West LA’s Running Backs Coach Marguet Miller yelled at police before turning to another coach. “They don’t want to hear nothing; let’s go.”
“Don’t talk to me ever!” he shouted at officers before grabbing another screaming coach to re-enter the locker room.
Some family of the players’ whose valuables were stolen wanted serious action to be taken, like Carolin Hyman, there to support Al Buckley, a defensive backer whose iPad was among one of the missing items.
“Since it happened here, on their turf, I think they should not be able to play again,” she said. “[Pierce’s] whole season should be ended.”
Bobby Sojka, #43 safety for Pierce, did not believe it was his team’s fault; he said while they were having a meeting on the field, a few of the players on the other team decided to enter the home team locker room, which is why he believes the confrontation came about.
“I think their whole coaching staff and their whole team could have handled it better, and we could have handled it in a better way too,” Sojka said. “[But] it’s not our fault that somebody on [the] Pierce campus decided to break in there.”
Pierce’s defensive end Ean Katz, #54, said that he did not believe it was anyone from the Pierce team because they were all on the field or on the sidelines, and that it could have been a worse situation had they not been calmed down by their coach.
“[Coach Martinez] talked to us, [and] he told us to keep our composure—you know, show some class,” Katz said. “Bad things happen when you’re upset.”
Lofrano explained that the doors had been unlocked during half time for the players and that they may not have been locked again afterward.
“This is the first time that I know of that [the locker room] has been broken into during a game— not in the history of Pierce that I know of, and I’ve been A.D. for seven years,” he said. “And I think they told me they were broken into two weeks ago at Santa Monica – the same team.”
Martinez alluded that although he understood the team’s frustration because this has happened to his team in the past, he did not appreciate the chaos that ensued.
“They were very upset, and their head coach is really the culprit of everything, which is pretty embarrassing,” Martinez said. “They are just upset and angry, so they’re not thinking rationally—they want answers.”
Kelcie Davis, a 20-year-old who attends West LA College was one of the people who wanted answers, and she felt that the section should have been more secure.
“Where is the administration at this point?” she asked. “Why is there not a person patrolling? Why don’t you know things like that? Why don’t you know who locked it last? Why is that confusing?”
Lofrano explained that officials already plan to have more security and to ensure that all doors are locked at appropriate times, but that even then things can still go awry.
“We were broken into at Citrus College three years ago—not to justify this [situation]—but it just happens,” he said. “Even with locked doors it happened.”
Officials did not leave the premises until approximately 11:40 p.m.; Novelich said the campus sheriffs made a report of the damage to the room and the players’ stolen property, and their detectives will continue to follow the case.
Written by: Kashish Nizami
Additional reporting by: Raymond Garcia and Kate Noah
[End of update]
Featured photo by: Mohammad Djauhari
Reporting by: Raymond Garcia, Kashish Nizami and Kate Noah