CrimeNews

Intramural basketball brawl at Gerlinger Annex leads to DPS, EPD intervention



Two students were taken into custody after a fight at an intramural Division I men’s basketball playoff game around 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Amin Tufa and Shamsu [email protected]@both [email protected]@ were handcuffed, questioned and let go with notifications that the Department of Public Safety would be following up with them at a later date.

Tufa and Said were a part of the QUACK CITY intramural team that was playing the Blouses team late Tuesday night. After a few fouls, the game was getting tense.

“It was a really physical game that just got out of hand,” Tufa said.

The victim, University junior Lee Van Pelt,@@[email protected]@ saw teammate Dane [email protected]@[email protected]@ fall and thought Tufa had hit him.

“I was fouled really hard, and then I fouled this other kid, and we fell together on top of him,” Tufa said.

“My friend was tackled, and then he (Tufa) started punching him,” Van Pelt said. “I went in to go help him, and then I started punching (Tufa).”

Quickly other team members from both sides came in trying to break up the fight, which led to Van Pelt being struck a number of times.

Department of Public Safety officer Hermans takes photos of university junior Lee Van Pelt's injuries after he was allegedly assaulted during an intramural basketball playoff game in Gerlinger Annex Tuesday night. After a player on the other team fell on one of Van Pelts's teammates after a hard foul, Van Pelt ran across the court and tackled the other player, starting the fight. (Michael Ciaglo/Oregon Daily Emerald)

“I was kicked in the back of my head,” Van Pelt said. He also had two cuts on his face that had been bandaged, bruises on his shoulders and arms and bite marks on his arms. The game was stopped, and DPS was there within five minutes.

However, it appeared to witnesses that both teams were not aggravated, and there was no escalation in the matter.

“The players knew each other fairly well,” University senior Nash Cotton said. Cotton had been working with the officiating crew as intramural supervisor. “The most hot-headed ones walked away, but players from both teams were talking to each other.”

Van Pelt walked away with minor injuries but plans on pressing charges against Tufa.

“DPS came in and questioned me, and then things seemed fine,” Tufa said. “Then another guy came in and asked me to sit down. They told me I was resisting arrest.”

A manager cleared the court and the rest of the building, which led Said and others on QUACK CITY to move outside. DPS handcuffed Tufa, cut off his backpack and put him in one of their cars while taking statements from others.

Amin’s teammate and brother Abdul Tufa had been recording the arrest with his phone. Shortly after Amin was placed in the police car, DPS forcefully confiscated Abdul’s phone, claiming they wanted the recording on the phone as evidence of the fight and arrest.

Another DPS officer arrived on scene after questioning Van Pelt and pulled Said aside. Van Pelt accused Said of kicking him in the back of the neck, although it was unclear whether Said was being charged at the time.

When Said tried to leave, officers told him to stop by “issuing a lawful order.” Said kept trying to leave despite the order, which led to DPS handcuffing him as well. He was taken off to the side and questioned before being put into another car.

Teammates were standing outside waiting for their friends, witnessing the entire thing. Teammates and fans made multiple claims of racial profiling, citing the fact that the other team had gone home already.

“Sham is the calmest person on Earth and the most responsible,” junior Amanda Rose said. “For them to chase him around out like that around out here is racial profiling.”

Cotton said he would review the incident with the head of the intramural department to decide the fate of the teams. At worst, both teams could be kicked out of the playoffs and players banned from intramural sports.

Around 11:30 p.m. Eugene Police Department officers were on scene, and Tufa and Said were in custody while DPS relayed what happened to the EPD.

Over an hour after the fight, DPS released Tufa and Said to their teammates but told them the investigation wasn’t over. DPS could not be reached for further comments.

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Becky Metrick

Becky Metrick