Carrying out a lightning raid in a scruffy East Hollywood neighborhood, police on Sunday arrested a man they believe was the "primary aggressor" in the March 31 beating of Giants fan Bryan Stow outside Dodger Stadium, officials said.
An emotional Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said at a press briefing near the stadium that investigators learned of the suspect, 31-year-old Giovanni Ramirez, thanks to a tip from his parole agent, then obtained a search warrant.
A SWAT team took Ramirez into custody at 7:10 a.m., about 3 miles west of the stadium. The suspect - who has past convictions related to robbery and gun possession, records show - was later booked into jail on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon.
Because he is also accused of violating conditions of his state parole, Ramirez is being held without bail.
Beck said his agency is still looking for a second suspect in the attack as well as a woman seen driving the suspects away from the scene.
"It would be much in your best interest to turn yourself in," Beck said. He said the raid had gone well, but that such operations can be dangerous for suspects.
Beck said the person arrested was "Suspect 1," whose face - as described to a sketch artist - was depicted on police flyers and plastered on billboards around the Los Angeles area. He said more than 20 detectives have worked a total of 6,000 hours on the case, running down more than 630 leads.
Choking back tears, Beck said he got a call after the arrest from Assistant Chief Earl Paysinger, who told him the raid had been successful.
"He said the words I've been waiting to hear for seven weeks," Beck said. "He said we had Bryan's assault suspect in custody."
The tip that led to the arrest came from a parole agent, who noticed that a man he was supervising had added fresh tattoos on his neck - an apparent effort to obscure an older tattoo described by witnesses to the attack, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Stow, a 42-year-old paramedic and father of two from Santa Cruz, has been unconscious since suffering a traumatic brain injury in the attack and remains in critical condition at San Francisco General Hospital, where he was moved last Monday.
Doctors are seeking to reduce Stow's anti-seizure medications so they can get a better idea of his condition. The goal is to prepare him for a move to a long-term rehabilitation center.
Search for suspects
The Los Angeles Police Department has publicized a reward that has climbed to $250,000 for information leading to the arrest of two men who taunted and then attacked Stow in a parking lot after the season-opening game between the Giants and Dodgers. Stow had been wearing Giants apparel and walking with two friends.
Police said the suspects fled in a car driven by a woman who wore a No. 16 Dodgers jersey bearing the name of star outfielder Andre Ethier.
On a website they created to share information about Stow's recovery, his family thanked supporters. "We would also like to thank LAPD for all their hard work on this case," the family wrote. "We are overwhelmed with many emotions today."
Giants manager Bruce Bochy called the arrest "great news" before his team's game against the Oakland A's on Sunday.
"I know it's been hard on the family," Bochy said, "but for them to continue to work as hard as they've been, the Police Department, to have a suspect in hand, is great news. Hopefully, they'll catch everybody involved in this senseless act."
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said he had contacted his counterpart in Los Angeles, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, to express gratitude for the arrest in the Stow case.
"It was good police work and good community work," said Lee, who sent Villaraigosa a thank you via text message and then spoke to him by phone.
Lee said team and political leaders in both cities are unified when it comes to "sending a message that this kind of behavior is just intolerable."
Samantha Tennison, a Santa Cruz paramedic who is one of Stow's co-workers at American Medical Response, said she learned of the arrest in a message from Stow's sister.
"It's bittersweet because it doesn't change what happened to Bryan. He's still in a coma," Tennison said. "But it's good that these guys can't continue to go on and live their lives while Bryan can't. He's going to have justice, and these guys are going to get the long arm of the law."
The arrest occurred on the second floor of a three-story, light-brown apartment building in East Hollywood. The neighborhood is rough; a stop sign across the street from the apartments is scarred by three bullet holes, and gang graffiti marks walls and even trees.
Jesus Lizama, 20, who lives directly below the raided apartment, said he was awakened by the sound of stomping boots, a helicopter and a voice on a loudspeaker ordering people out of the apartment.
Lizama said he knew about the Stow case and had seen the billboards around the city, but he thought the sketches of the suspects were too vague.
"It could have been anyone around here," said Lizama, who doesn't know Ramirez. "Damn, if I had known, I'd be into that 200k."
According to online Los Angeles County Superior Court records, Ramirez was convicted in 1999 of attempted robbery. A separate charge of assault with a deadly weapon was dismissed.
Then in 2005, Ramirez was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Three charges were dismissed: drug possession, carrying a gun while possessing drugs, and discharging a firearm in a grossly negligent manner.