Sources: Ballpark Beating Left Victim's Face Unrecognizable

Police believe as many as 30 people were involved in the brawl

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    David Sale, 22, was at his future brother-in-law's bachelor party at the ballpark.

    A spilled drink was the spark that set off a brawl, which led to the beating death of a man outside Citizens Bank Park Saturday, said police. Now, the three men accused of holding the man down and kicking him until he was unconscious are charged with murder.

    Police charged Charles Bowers, 35, of 6100 Bustleton Ave., James Groves, 45, of the 800 block of East Almond St., and Francis Kirchner, 28, with the beating and murder of David Sale Jr. in the parking lot of Citizens Bank Park.

    3rd Suspect Charged in Beating Death

    [PHI] 3rd Suspect Charged in Beating Death
    David Kirchner, 28, is the third suspect charged in the beating death. (Published Tuesday, Jul 28, 2009)

    Sale's death was the very violent end to a fight that began in a bar inside the ballpark late in the Phillies-Cardinals game, according to police. 

    The argument started between two groups -- a bachelor party of eight guys and a bar tour from Fishtown of 30 guys -- inside McFadden's Restaurant and Saloon at the ballpark. Bar staff removed the crowd, but the pack quickly moved over to parking lot "M" at 7th Street and Pattison Avenue and continued the melee.

    Spilled Drink Leads to Beating Death of Man

    [PHI] Spilled Drink Leads to Beating Death of Man
    Three men are in police custody accused of beating David Sale to death during a melee outside Citizens Bank Park Saturday. (Published Tuesday, Jul 28, 2009)

    Sale, 22, was with the bachelor party. He was the brother of the bride-to-be, reports KYW.

    The North Penn High School grad was held down by at least two men and kicked repeatedly in the head by a third man, officials said. When police arrived at the scene, Sale was "unresponsive." He was pronounced dead at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania around 7 p.m. Saturday. The beating was so severe that his face was unrecognizable, police sources said.

    A second victim -- who just happened to be walking through the parking lot was jumped by the mob. He was taken to Methodist Hospital where he was treated and released.

    Some of the fighting inside and outside the bar was caught on surveillance tape but the actual assault of Sale wasn't on any tape viewed so far, police said Monday.

    Both groups came to the ballpark in buses and as many as 30 people were involved in the fight. Police took many of them in for questioning.

    "It's just ignorant is what it is," said Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey. "All over a spilled beer. It makes absolutely no sense, that something like that would happen." He cited the fight as one example of "senseless violence" plaguing the city.

    Sale was a passionate sports enthusiast and may have been a Pittsburgh Steelers fan. He owned "a box truck" full of baseball cards and Steelers memorabilia, neighbors told the Daily News.

    "I was thinking, 'God that's terrible,' not thinking it could be your neighbor," Grant Lindaberry, 46, said.

    Phillies Senior Vice President for Administration and Operations Michael R. Stiles, issued the following statement on behalf of the team:

    The Phillies want to express heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of David Sale. We also want to express our appreciation to the Philadelphia Police Department for their efforts in this matter. We trust in the justice system and have confidence that the persons responsible for this tragic loss of life will be held accountable. In light of the fact that there are open homicide charges, we do not intend to make any further comments.

    The next major event at the ballpark is the Elton John/ Billy Joel concert on Thursday. No word yet if extra security is expected.