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Brawl, arrests mar basketball tournament

Feb 24, 2013 - By Eric Blom, Staff Writer

At least two people were arrested at Lander Valley High School, and police said a half-dozen more arrests could follow.

Two arrests followed a brawl at a St. Stephen's-Little Snake River basketball game at Lander Valley High School Thursday evening. More charges are pending from the fight which erupted in the stands during the Class 1-A West regional tournament.

Police chief Jim Carey said the only one team's fans were involved, but he wouldn't confirm which side it was. He did not think alcohol played a role.

Witnesses said the fight involved St. Stephen's boosters.

LPD arrested Bryan Brown, 39, and Ladeena Bell, 38, both of Riverton, for assault during the melee.

Carey said police expected to arrest from three to six more belligerents.

"It's unfortunate the adults had to act that way and be a very poor example to our community," Carey said.

At 8:31 p.m. on Feb. 21, LPD responded to a reported fight at Bob Carey Memorial Field House adjacent to Lander Valley High School.

Ranger sports editor Bruce Tippets was covering the game and said the fight began after the game ended, a 77-66 win for Little Snake River.

Carey said the fight started when one man pushed another and soon escalated to involve 10 to 15 people. Three on-duty LPD officers at the game, another on patrol, off duty officers, an off-duty Fremont County Sheriff's deputy, bystanders and LVHS staff broke the fight up, Carey said.

The chief said he was not sure if anyone was injured, but he did not know that anyone received medical attention.

Tippets reported Fremont County School District 1 custodian Pat Mowrey acted quickly to break up the fracas.

Carey said police were not to arrest everyone involved because the number of combatants outnumbered the "handful" of officers.

Police had to move from one assault to another, interceding where the situation was most urgent.

Carey added at one point an antagonist grabbed and restrained an officer.

The chief praised the efforts of LVHS tournament staff.

"They were crucial in assisting and maintaining this from spreading," Carey said.

He added that LPD will publicly commend the citizens who stepped in to help.

Carey said security cameras caught the fight on tape, and footage from them will aid in the investigation.

"With the video we'll be able to be fair and reasonable," Carey said. "We don't want to pick two to arrest and have the others go free."

He assured police will charge everyone culpable.

LPD planned to have more officers in place at the rest of the tournament's games. The tournament ended Saturday afternoon.

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