Stow family praises police after arrest
Relatives of a San Francisco Giants fan who was brutally beaten outside Dodger Stadium two months ago were grateful Monday after police arrested a suspect with a violent criminal record.
The parents and two sisters of Bryan Stow made a brief appearance outside San Francisco General Hospital, looking relieved but still shaken by the nearly two-month ordeal of caring for the badly injured father of two and awaiting news that his attackers had been found.
Stow, a 42-year-old paramedic, remains in critical but stable condition under heavy sedation to prevent seizures caused by the traumatic brain injury he suffered in the March 31 attack.
Los Angeles police raided an East Hollywood apartment building Sunday and arrested Giovanni Ramirez, 31, on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon. The case was submitted to the Los Angeles County district attorney's office and was under review.
Ramirez has a violent past, according to court records. In 1999, he pleaded guilty to one count of attempted robbery after he grabbed a purse from a woman boarding a bus and she was thrown to the ground.
He was sentenced to a year in jail and placed on three years of probation. An assault charge was dropped by prosecutors.
In 2005, Ramirez was convicted of possessing or importing for sale composite or hard wooden knuckles, a misdemeanor. Prison records indicate Ramirez served time, but no other details were immediately available. Two drug-related charges as well as one count of firing a weapon in public were dismissed.
Stow's family members never gave up hope that someone would be arrested, said his sister Erin Collins. They thanked the Los Angeles Police Department for its ''exhaustive efforts.''
''Bryan has a long road ahead of him, but we are thankful that this suspect is in custody and is unable to do this to another family,'' Collins said.
Police were still seeking a second attacker and a woman suspected of driving the pair from the scene. Police Chief Charlie Beck called Ramirez the main aggressor.
The Los Angeles man was being held on $1 million bail. Beck did not know if Ramirez had hired an attorney.
Prudencia Strong, 72, recalled the attempted robbery by Ramirez in November 1998 and said she fears for her own safety, even after learning about his arrest.
She said she was headed to her job as a maid at a Century City hotel when she felt a strong tug from behind while standing on a step in the bus. She fell to the ground and broke a finger on her left hand when it struck a newsstand.
Fortunately, she was able to hail a police officer, and Ramirez was captured soon after in a nearby parking lot.
''I was so scared,'' said Strong, who added she was robbed two more times at the same bus stop by different thugs. ''Every morning I looked around and around to see if someone was coming.''
She believes having her name made public will bring her undue attention from cohorts of Ramirez.
''I have no defense myself,'' Strong said. ''I think he or his friends could do this again to somebody.''
A tip from a parole officer late last week gave detectives the break they'd sought for seven weeks following the attack on Stow that occurred in a stadium parking lot after the Dodgers' season opener.
Ramirez was detained in the early morning raid by detectives and SWAT team members. Beck choked back tears as he described getting a call at 7 a.m. Sunday from Assistant Chief Earl Paysinger after the investigation that involved 20 full-time detectives who worked for more than 6,000 hours.
''He said the words I've been waiting for, for seven weeks,'' Beck said. ''He said that we had Bryan's assault suspect in custody.
Ramirez was among several people detained for questioning after police served search warrants and seized evidence in the apartment building and a home, police said in a statement.
All except Ramirez were expected to be released, the statement said.
Beck said many people in Los Angeles had seen an image of ''Suspect 1'' on flyers and billboards. Police described the man as having a bald head, goatee and tattoos on his neck. Both men were wearing Dodger jerseys during the attack.
Rewards totaling $250,000 were offered for information leading to arrests.