The Carolina Panthers promised to punish a fan who was caught on video punching a 62-year-old man in the face multiple times during the team’s 28-23 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday. By late Friday afternoon, it appears the perpetrator was found.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department identified the suspect as Kyle Adam Maraghy on its official Twitter account, announcing he has been arrested and charged with simple assault.
— CMPD News (@CMPD) October 13, 2017
Earlier Friday, the Panthers released a statement saying they had identified Maraghy and were working with the CMPD on pursuing charges.
“We have reviewed video tape of the incident and have identified the perpetrator,” Panthers executive director of risk management Lance Emory said in a statement (via Fox 46 reporter Caroline Fountain) on Friday. “We are working with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department to pursue charges to the fullest extent of the law.”
Emory added: “The Carolina Panthers are committed to a fan-friendly and family-friendly stadium experience. The behavior exhibited by the perpetrator is unacceptable and will not be condoned at Bank of America Stadium.”
The incident went viral overnight after an Instagram user named “Warren C” posted the tail end of the altercation on social media. The video, which is graphic, shows the perpetrator delivering a series of punches to the face of the 62-year-old fan, who remains seated with his hands over his face during the incident. Several other fans attempted to stop the perpetrator after the first punch, but they failed and the victim was left bloodied. Eventually, the assaulter appeared to leave voluntarily with a female companion, who continued to argue with others in the stands as she left.
The Instagram user, whom the Charlotte Observer identified as Warren Carrigan, described what led to the incident in the caption to the video, noting the man who wound up throwing the punches had been standing with his female companion “for the entire game.”
“Words gradually got more and more escalated,” Carrigan continued. “There previously was a single mom and her son between us, [but] they left halfway through the 3rd [quarter]. After that, the lid was off. The [older] dude took offense to the couple never sitting down and obstructing his view. The victim telling the dude bro how they’re being jerks and how rude they are for not sitting. The dude bro turns around and calls the victim a “geriatric [expletive]”, “f—–”, and “hick.” Then sucker punches him right in the face.”
“[I] don’t know if he got away or left in handcuffs, but I hope it’s the latter,” Carrigan added, noting all parties involved were Panthers fans, so team allegiance did not play into the incident.
— Caroline Fountain (@FountainFox46) October 13, 2017
The victim, meanwhile, whom police have not identified, filed a police report Friday morning, according to Fountain, who posted images of the public file on Twitter. The victim is described as having suffered minor injuries, consisting of cuts and bruises, and was treated by a medic on the scene. The incident has been classified as simple assault.
The NFL helped in the investigation, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, who reported the league had been in contact with the Panthers and local police at least since early Friday morning.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 13, 2017
“We take all of these [incidents] very seriously,” a league official told Rapoport.
Fan violence is nothing new at NFL games, although this incident appears to have struck a particular nerve with the public because of the age difference between the parties, as well as the manner in which the punches were doled out. Hundreds of Twitter users retweeted images of the culprit to help authorities identify him. It is unclear whether social media helped lead police to the culprit, however.
According to an analysis by Post reporters Kent Babb and Steven Rich, arrests due to fan violence at NFL games have been trending slightly upward since 2011.
“[In 2015], 6.34 arrests per game were reported leaguewide during the 17 weeks of the regular season,” Babb and Rich reported last October. “In the 10th week of the  season, 126 arrests were made — the second-highest total during the five-year period. That was the most since 129 arrests were made in Week 14 of 2012.”
“If you are concerned about bringing your family to a game, then that is an issue,” Amy Trask, a former executive with the Raiders who has served on the NFL’s security committee, told The Post. “It’s not just an issue for one team; it’s an issue for all 32 teams. The teams know this. The league knows this.”