SAN FRANCISCO (CBSLA.com) — A key suspect detained in connection with the deadly stabbing of Dodger fan Jonathan Denver has been released.
Citing insufficient evidence, a prosecutor said there wasn’t enough to charge 21-year-old Michael Montgomery of Lodi in the stabbing death of Jonathan Denver, according to the newspaper.
The 24-year-old Denver died late Wednesday night following a confrontation near the AT&T Park after the Giants beat Los Angeles, 6-4.
Earlier in the day, police told CBS2’s Tom Wait that Montgomery implicated himself during his interrogation.
But Montgomery’s father told lodinews.com, a Northern California newspaper, that he was acting in self-defense.
He said, “[Michael] got jumped. [Denver and friends] started swinging chairs and he stabbed [Denver] … ” He went on to say, “[Denver] mouthed off about the San Francisco hat. It wasn’t even [Michael's] hat.”
Reacting to those claims, Denver’s aunt Jill Haro, told CBS2′s Dave Lopez that, “[Jonathan] was so gentle and I think anybody that knew him, felt that spirit about him. I find it very hard to believe that he would have initiated this.”
Although Denver had prior arrests for public drunkenness, Haro said, “I don’t think that defines the character. It’s not the Jonathan that we know and it’s not the Jonathan that I want the world to know.”
Prior to the altercation, Denver and his brother were celebrating their dad’s 49th birthday. The trio left the game in the eighth inning and went to a bar for a drink. After leaving the bar, police say they encountered another group and a fight over baseball ensued.
Robert Preece, Sr., Denver’s grandfather, told Lopez that his son was already in his car ready to travel back to Los Angeles when the fight broke out just a few feet away.
“The first thing that he had told us when we first talked to him was that Jonathan had died in his father’s arms,” Preece, Sr. said.
Meantime, family and friends of Denver were still trying to fathom how a baseball rivalry could lead to murder.
“It’s just a game. And I think the players understand that and it’s the fans that get so uptight about it,” Preece, Sr. said.
Gisela Ornelas, the victim’s friend said “I still can’t believe it. It just doesn’t seem real.” She added, “I don’t understand who could even do that over Giants or Dodgers. It’s just ridiculous.”
Police were still searching for two others in connection with Denver’s death. While it’s unclear exactly what role the two others played in the attack, police said they wanted to talk to the men to discern what happened.