DEDHAM, Mass. — Police are investigating the death of a New Hampshire man at a New England Patriots home game, after a witness said he saw a Miami Dolphins fan punching the man in the head.
Police and personnel responded to the upper deck at Gillette Stadium shortly before 11 p.m. Sunday against the Dolphins. Dale Mooney, 53, of Newmarket, New Hampshire, “was in apparent need of medical attention,” the Norfolk County district attorney's office said in a news release Monday. Mooney was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead, the news release said.
“Numb. I just feel numb. I just can’t even believe this is for real,” his wife, Lisa Mooney, told WCVB-TV. “I want to know what happened. What caused this?”
In an interview with several local media outlets, Joey Kilmartin said he saw Mooney confront a rival Dolphins fan who he had been arguing with during most of the game.
“He (Mooney) went over to Section 311 and he basically engaged in mutual combat with another fan," Mooney told The Boston Globe. “A lot of people started trying to pull them apart. ... It looked like somebody was in the middle of them, and then a man in the Dolphins jersey reached over and he connected with two punches to the victim’s head. It wasn’t something crazy or out of the ordinary until, 30 seconds later, the guy wasn’t getting up."
The results of an autopsy were expected this week, a spokesperson for the district attorney's office said.
“The death of a 53-year old New Hampshire man following an incident in the 300’s tier of Gillette Stadium during the September 17, 2023 game is, according to normal protocol, under investigation by Massachusetts State Police assigned to the Norfolk District Attorney’s Office,” the release said.
The Miami Dolphins defeated the Patriots in Sunday's game. Gillette Stadium officials said they were “heartbroken” to learn about the death of Mooney, whom they described as a lifelong Patriots fan and 30-year season ticket member.
“We continue to work with local authorities to assist them with their ongoing investigation," according to the statement. "We extend our sincerest sympathies and heartfelt condolences to Dale’s family and to all those who are mourning his loss.”
Fan violence at sporting events, especially among rival supporters, is a long-running problem. Among the most famous instances was the 2011 savage beating of a paramedic and San Francisco Giants fan by Los Angeles fans at Dodger Stadium. The Giants fan, Bryan Stow, was awarded about $14 million when a jury found the team was negligent.
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