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SHARON Probe continues into brawl at game



Published: Tue, February 5, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Future Sharon-Farrell athletic contests could be in jeopardy.

By HAROLD GWIN

VINDICATOR SHARON BUREAU

SHARON, Pa. -- Police say it may be weeks before they are able to sort out Saturday night's brawl at the Sharon-Farrell high school basketball game in Sharon High School.

"It's a very, very extensive investigation," said Capt. Michael Menster, explaining there are a lot of people to be interviewed.

There has been only one arrest so far, but Menster said there could be a lot more. At this point, it appears that most of those involved in the fight were juveniles or young adults, he said.

There were no serious injuries, and a report that someone was stabbed was apparently false, Menster said, noting that no one has reported such an injury to the police nor did any local hospitals treat anyone for stab wounds.

Future unclear: While authorities try to sort out what happened, the question facing school officials is whether there should be future Sharon-Farrell athletic contests.

Officials from the two districts and police met Monday, but no decisions have been made.

"There was some talk about discontinuing, but that's up to the school," said Police Chief Thomas Burke.

Sharon Superintendent Richard Rossi said the high school administration and the school board's athletic committee will come up with some recommendations for the full board to consider, perhaps within a month.

Sharon and Farrell recently agreed to open next football season against each other, and that game could be a casualty of Saturday's fracas, Rossi said.

Charles Sanitate, Farrell High School principal, said his district hasn't made any decision.

"It's been such a good competition between the systems," he said, adding, "We've always had a good relationship with the [Sharon] school system."

Seeking source: Police are trying to determine who started the fight and why. Sanitate noted that authorities don't even know if the fight was directly related to the game, which Sharon was winning when the fight broke out with less than two minutes to play.

Officials ended the game with 1:28 on the clock, with Sharon leading 80-70.

Menster said between 70 and 100 people were involved in the fight, which started in the student section of the bleachers and eventually spilled out into the cafeteria commons area just off the gymnasium.

The gym was packed and, when officers working security tried to climb the bleachers to break up the fight, they were attacked from all sides, Menster said, noting that the four police officers called for backup support.

More than one officer was pushed down the bleachers and some had their uniforms torn, he said. Officers also said people were trying to grab their cans of chemical spray and their guns. "It's something we're not going to tolerate," Menster said.

Sharon Regional Health System reported treating seven people for exposure to chemical spray and four others for fight injuries.

Tempers flared among those at the hospital, and police had to stand guard there while the injured were treated.

Arrest: Jesse J. Wilson, 20, of Sherman Avenue, Sharon, formerly of Farrell, was arrested at the school on assault, riot and other charges. He is free on $20,000 bond.

Wilson is a defensive back for the University of Cincinnati football team, and university officials said Monday that Wilson has been suspended from the team pending the police investigation.




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