After a man died Sunday in a food booth fight at a packed Discovery Park concert, his assailant remained on the loose Monday, Sacramento police said.
At 5:42 p.m. Sunday, 102.5 Live concertgoers alerted fire officials at the event to an assault and that the victim appeared to be unconscious, Officer Matthew McPhail said.
McPhail said it appeared the 31-year-old victim and another man “got into some kind of confrontation” at a food booth. Some witnesses said the victim was knocked to the ground by a punch.
McPhail said no weapons have been linked to the fatal assault.
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Fire officials loaded the unconscious man into an ambulance and tried to revive him, McPhail said. He died at a hospital.
“We’re still in the process of going through what all (the witnesses) had seen,” McPhail said. “We do not yet know the entirety of the (circumstances) that led up to this. It’s being treated as a homicide until we know otherwise.”
The victim’s name has not been released by the Sacramento County Coroner’s Office.
Police described the assailant as an African American man in his early to mid-20s, about 5 feet, 10 inches tall, and about 175 pounds. He has a light complexion and was seen wearing a white T-shirt and tan cargo pants. Detectives were also looking for a woman seen with the attacker, described as an African American wearing a black tank top, black shorts, dark-colored shoes and a gray ball cap.
Police released images of both individuals Monday evening.
McPhail said police were at the concert, and firefighters were on hand Sunday after a midafternoon fire that reportedly started when a deep-fryer ignited propane tanks at a vendor booth.
Chris Harvey, a Fire Department spokesman, said fire personnel inspected food vendors’ equipment Sunday morning. The fire occurred as a food vendor was changing propane tanks, he said.
Harvey said three people suffered burns, but they were not serious enough to require hospital treatment. Three other people were taken to hospitals with injured wrists, knees or ankles suffered in the rush to flee, he said.
The homicide and fire gave more fuel to critics who say events that attract massive crowds should not occur along the American River Parkway.
Five days before 102.5 Live, the Save the American River Association sent a letter to the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors arguing that the concert and this coming Saturday’s SactoMoFo food festival at Discovery Park are prohibited under the American River Parkway Plan.
Stephen Green, president of Save the American River Association’s board of directors, said such large-scale events are environmentally damaging to the parkway and that massive crowds restrict other people’s use of the parkway, Green said, arguing that they should be held at other places such as Cal Expo or Raley Field.
Discovery Park was home for the hard rock Monster Energy Aftershock Festival from 2012 to 2014. The two-day music event drew 19,000 attendees daily in 2014 and moved to the 325-acre Gibson Ranch in 2015 to further expand the event. Discovery Park also was the site of KNCI’s “Country in the Park,” which drew 10,000 in 2007. Organizers of SactoMoFo 9, the annual food truck festival, predict a crowd Saturday that could swell to 25,000.
“Now we have a very strong argument for a restraining order,” Green said, citing Sunday’s incidents. A request for a restraining order to block large-scale events, he said, would be based on the provisions of the American River Parkway Plan, which was approved by the county Board of Supervisors. He said his group had received no county response to its letter, but “I think we will be meeting very soon.”
Karen Doron, a spokeswoman for Sacramento County Regional Parks, said Monday that parks officials were still assessing Sunday’s incidents and it would be premature to say what effect they would have on future events at Discovery Park or other parkway venues. Under a use agreement with the county, the permit holder and concert promoter are responsible for security and traffic control. At Discovery Park, she said, the Sacramento Police Department oversees security in the area where the event is held.
County Supervisor Phil Serna does not believe concerts should be banned from the parkway. Discovery Park is in the heart of Sacramento’s urban core, providing a unique location for such events, he said.
“It’s incumbent upon the promoter to work with the county parks director to make sure people are safe,” Serna said.
McPhail, the Sacramento police spokesman, said officers were part of Sunday’s security force. Although the department provides guidelines for security staffing to people requesting event permits, he said requirements vary based on the history of the event, expected turnout, time of day, location and how it might be affected by other nearby events.
“Each sort of event has unique variables,” he said.
KSFM’s 102.5 Live concert has been held at Discovery Park since 2012. The event also generated controversy in 2015 when a security guard was caught on camera while punching a disruptive concertgoer who was in handcuffs.
Steve Cottingim, senior vice president and market manager for CBS Radio, which owns 102.5 KSFM, issued a statement Monday: “We are deeply saddened by the senseless tragedy that took place in line at a food stand yesterday. We want to extend our condolences to the family and friends of the victim during this difficult time. We will continue to support the Sacramento Police Department as they look into what happened and will have no further comment until local authorities have completed their investigation.”
Detectives ask anyone with information about the death to call the Police Department’s dispatch center at 916-264-5471 or Crime Alert at 916-443-4357, or submit an anonymous tip using the free “P3 Tips” smartphone app.
The Bee’s Brad Branan contributed to this report.