Family seeks public's help after fatal fight during Oxnard soccer game
The family of a Port Hueneme man who died two weeks after a fight broke out during an adult soccer league match in Oxnard this month is asking witnesses to come forward.
Relatives of Misael Sanchez, 29, spoke during a press conference Thursday morning at the family's Ventura law firm.
Sanchez — called "Misa" by friends — was the first in his family to attend a university. He was a biomedical scientist who had earned a master's degree from Cal State Northridge and was working on his doctorate, relatives said.
“He had lots of dreams and a life ahead of him,” his father, Guadalupe Sanchez, said in Spanish. “The death of my son wasn’t an accident. We wish for justice.”
Sanchez was gravely injured during a melee that broke out during a game on July 10 at Oxnard High School, according to the Oxnard Police Department. He was taken to Ventura County Medical Center in critical condition. On Monday, he died from his injuries.
The family's lawyer, Danielle De Smeth of Bamieh & De Smeth, said the Ventura County Medical Examiner's Office has performed an autopsy but is awaiting a toxicology screen before reporting the results.
Through the law firm, the Sanchez family asked witnesses to come forward with observations, photos, videos and and other information that could assist with the investigation into the fatal incident. The private law firm's investigation is separate from the police investigation.
Sanchez was a member of La Nueva Liga Oxnard 805 soccer league. The sanctioned game was between the teams Panteras and Cruz Azul, according to De Smeth.
The law firm, citing witness accounts, claims a teammate of Sanchez and a player from the other team got into a shoving match that "quickly turned into a melee." Sanchez was reportedly pushed to the ground and kicked by multiple people. He was found unresponsive after the crowd cleared, attorneys said, and a good Samaritan performed CPR until paramedics arrived.
Oxnard Police Cmdr. Luis McArthur said Thursday detectives are still trying to determine exactly what happened. The department is also awaiting results of the medical examiner's report as to the formal cause of death.
De Smeth said the soccer league paid a monthly fee of $1,500 to use the Oxnard High field every Sunday, adding it wasn't immediately clear whether the league had insurance as required by the Oxnard Union High School District. A school district official could not immediately be reached Thursday afternoon.
De Smeth also claimed other league players had been attacked "on the same field in the same week.”
The law firm is looking into whether aggressive players have been penalized, she said, and whether rules protecting players were being enforced.
A soccer league representative could not be reached Thursday.
De Smeth said Oxnard police arrested a 46-year-old man at the soccer field on suspicion of felony battery. He was not a team member, she said, but was one of several bystanders who allegedly came onto the field to join in the brawl.
McArthur, the police commander, said officers arrested a man pointed out by witnesses who was trying to leave the scene in a car. The man has since been released from jail with no charges filed by the Ventura County District Attorney's Office, he said. The case remains under investigation with the potential for charges to be filed.
The number of police responses related to soccer disturbances at Oxnard High was not immediately available Thursday afternoon, McArthur said.
Nearly a hundred people attended Thursday's press conference, held on the front lawn of the law office on Thompson Boulevard in downtown Ventura.
Family members made a plea to people who were at the game to share video of the incident. Sanchez's cousin, Eric Abmriz, said in Spanish that Sanchez grew up playing soccer with his family.
“It’s heartbreaking that Misael’s life was taken with something he truly loved and cherished,” Ambriz said.
Sanchez set a good example of hard work for his family, Ambriz said, adding his smile lit up the room when he entered.
Oxnard police have asked people to submit photos or videos to the department through a link devoted to the incident at oxnardpd.evidence.com/axon/citizen/public/oxnardhighsoccer.
Residents can also can contact police Detective Carey Everhart at 805-486-6228 or Detective Jaime Miranda at 805-385-7547. Information can be submitted anonymously by calling Ventura County Crime Stoppers at 805-222-8477.
Victoria Talbot is a courts and breaking news reporter with The Star. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 805-437-0258.
Cytlalli Salgado is a breaking news reporter for the Ventura County Star. She can be reached by calling 805-437-0257 or emailing email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on Ventura County Star: Family seeks witnesses after fatal fight at Oxnard soccer game