SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants and Dodgers fans gathering for Thursday's night final game of the season denounced the stabbing death of a 24-year-old man Wednesday night and said violence in an otherwise heated but friendly rivalry is the work of a few bad characters.
After a confrontation and two separate fights with a group that included a man in a Giants hat, Jonathan Denver, a Fort Bragg plumber's apprentice who was wearing a Dodgers jersey, was stabbed about 11:35 p.m. Wednesday under the freeway at Third and Harrison streets, about four blocks from AT &T Park, where the Giants had beaten the Dodgers about 90 minutes earlier.
No one else was injured.
A San Francisco Police spokeswoman said Michael Montgomery, 21, of Lodi, has been arrested on suspicion of killing Denver. Police have also detained another man for questioning and continue to look for two others and the murder weapon, San Francisco police Chief Greg Suhr said Thursday.
Police said the suspect made "incriminating statements' to investigators, and is believed to be the one who stabbed Denver.
Michael Montgomery's father, Martin Montgomery, told the Lodi News-Sentinel that his son had told him during a phone call Thursday that he had acted in self defense.
"It was a self-defense deal," Marty Montgomery told the Lodi newspaper. "(Michael) got jumped. (Denver and friends) started swinging chairs and (Michael) stabbed (Denver).
Officials at the San Francisco Police Department and the San Francisco District Attorney's Office did not return a call for comment on what charge Michael Montgomery might face.
"It's a game. It should never be about hurting somebody," said Giants fan Todd Walton, 48, who lives in Southern California. "It's just sad how some people take it too far."
Walton said he has been the target of attacks at Dodger games and has been publicly insulted and pelted with aluminum foil wrappers and popcorn.
"I would never justify anything violent," said Walton, who planned to attend Thursday's game with his wife Melodee. "You play hard and go home, win or lose, that's it."
Denver is the son of a Dodgers security guard, team officials said Thursday, and had attended the game with his father and three others. They left during the 8th inning and went to a nearby bar.
Upon leaving the bar, Denver and his group walked northbound on Harrison Street near Third Street, about six blocks away from the park, when at about 11:30 p.m. they encountered a group of people, one of whom was wearing a Giants cap, Suhr said. The second group had not attended the Giants game that night, and instead were out at a nightclub.
The two groups exchanged words about the Dodgers and Giants rivalry and a fight broke out. The melee eventually broke up, but minutes later, the two groups crossed paths again, and a second fight ensued.
It was during this encounter that Denver was stabbed. He was rushed to San Francisco General Hospital, where he died from his injuries.
Art Urrutia is a Dodgers fan and his wife Brandi roots for the Giants, and they were preparing to bring their 19-month-old son Giovanni to his first Giants game. Art Urrutia, who had brought his family from Albuquerque, New Mexico for a visit, was leaning toward not wearing his Dodgers gear at Thursday's game but said he'd dress his son in a San Francisco shirt and Los Angeles hat.
Brandi Urrutia said the violent, extremist fans don't represent her.
"One bad person shouldn't be able to put that appearance on a whole group," she said. "Hopefully it's a one-time issue and it doesn't keep getting worse after this."
The killing comes one night after the Giants held the first of three fundraisers for Bryan Stow, the Giants fan who was attacked outside Dodger Stadium in March 2011. Stow, a former paramedic from Santa Cruz, suffered brain damage during the attack following an Opening Day game between the Giants and Dodgers in Los Angeles.
The Giants are contributing $10 to the Bryan Stow Fund for every special-event ticket purchased for tonight's game against the Dodgers and Sunday's final game of the season against the San Diego Padres.
The Stow family provided a statement this morning following news of the stabbing death of a Dodgers fan.
"We are saddened by this senseless killing and our thoughts and prayers go out to the victim's family," the statement said.
The two teams play the final game of their series Thursday night at AT&T Park, their last meeting of the 2013 season.
San Francisco police will send extra officers, including some in Dodgers gear, to the ballpark for the game, said department spokesman Officer Gordon Shyy.
"We want people to feel safe coming to AT&T Park," Shyy said. "There is no room for this type of behavior. The rivalry should stay on the field. We're working with the Giants to make sure nothing spills out."