Lodi Parents of Dodgers Fan Stabbing Suspect: Son Acted in Self-Defense

By Lisa Fernandez
|  Saturday, Sep 28, 2013  |  Updated 3:08 AM EDT
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Two families are devastated over the stabbing death of a Los Angeles Dodgers fan after Wednesday's game against the Giants in San Francisco. Jodi Hernandez Reports.

Two families are devastated over the stabbing death of a Los Angeles Dodgers fan after Wednesday's game against the Giants in San Francisco. Jodi Hernandez Reports.

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The parents of the man arrested for allegedly stabbing a Los Angeles Dodgers fan after Wednesday's Giants game say that their son claims the killing was in self-defense.

Michael Montgomery, of Lodi, Calif., was arrested Thursday in connection with the death of Jonathan Denver, 24.  The suspect's mother, Victoria Montgomery, says her 21-year-old son is "freaking out" about what happened when a rivalry-fueled fight turned fatal late Wednesday night.

"My son says he was hit with a chair," Victoria Montgomery told NBC Bay Area Friday morning. "He was just trying to defend himself. He is in shock."

As of Friday morning, Montgomery's court date had not been scheduled.

MORE: Arrest Made in Dodgers Stabbing Death

His mother's comments mirror what her ex-husband, Marty Montgomery, told the Lodi News-Sentinel after speaking with his son, who remains in San Francisco County Jail. According to that account, the suspect said Denver yelled, "Giants suck," at his friend, who was wearing a Giants hat, then Denver and others hit his son and their friends without warning. They were in San Francisco for a concert, Montgomery's mother said.

The elder Montgomery said his grandson was jumped during the fight and stabbed Denver - ironically, the son of a Dodgers security guard - to protect himself. Denver is about 6 feet 3 inches, and Montogmery is about 5 feet 8 inches, his mother said.

"It was a self-defense deal," Marty Montgomery told the Lodi paper. "(Michael) got jumped. (Denver and friends) started swinging chairs and he stabbed (Denver). (Denver) mouthed off about the San Francisco hat. It wasn't even (Michael's) hat.'"

Denver, a plumber's apprentice from Fort Bragg, Calif.,  was stabbed by the intersection of Harrison and Third streets at 11:49 p.m. Wednesday - about 90 minutes after the Dodgers-Giants game at AT&T Park was over. His father, Robert Preece Jr., works security for the Dodgers and lives in Alhambra, Calif. His sons were there to celebrate his birthday. His friends set up a R.I.P. Jonathan Denver Dodgers Fan Facebook Page to honor his memory.

Denver's grandparents, Robert and Anne Marie Preece, who live in Southern California, released a statement Friday, saying their son was a "gentle, kind-hearted soul."

"Jon was always smiling, and that is how is we will forever remember him," the statement read.

The grandparents said they didn't have details about the fight, but said "everything went bad very quickly."

They said they were in pain because "Jon was taken from us at such an early age."

They said they believe the incident underlines a "symptom of a society whose values seem to have deteriorated over time."

MORE: Son to Celebrate Father's Birthday at Dodgers-Giants Game

According to the police account, Denver's group bumped into the suspects' group about four blocks away from the park, at Third and Harrison streets, and the two groups exchanged some sort of "Dodgers-Giants" comments. The suspects' group had not been at a game, but at a nightclub.

The two groups parted ways after the heated exchange, but moments later a second fight erupted, and Denver realized he had been stabbed.

One of the suspects in Montgomery's group was wearing a Giants hat, police said. Denver, his brother and his father were all wearing Dodgers blue. Two suspects were detained a short time later at Second and Howard streets - although one was let go after questioning. Montgomery is now the only one in custody, and police said they were seeking two other suspects.

Denver died later at San Francisco General Hospital.

At a news conference Thursday, Police Chief Greg Suhr said that  Montgomery made some "incriminating statements" while in custody that led to his arrest. Another person, whose name was not released, was also taken into custody. Police said they were still looking for two more suspects.

The account from Montomery's parents conflicts with what one friend of the victim told the Associated Press.

MORE: Brian Wilson in Post-Game Flap with Giants CEO

Denver's friend Matt Gomes told the Associated Press that Denver was trying to help a friend who was getting beat up during the fight.

"He was defending his friend," Gomes said. "And then he got stabbed and died.'"
 
Gomes said he doesn't believe Denver, his family and friends started the fight. He said his buddy wasn't the type to get violent. 

"He was an amazing guy who made everybody happy and made them laugh. He was there for everybody," Gomes said.

As for Montgomery's mother, she isn't sure what to believe. She last spoke with her son this summer - the day before his 21st birthday. She said since she didn't live with him, she didn't know his exact goings-on. She didn't know if he owned a knife and didn't want to discuss with NBC Bay Area whether he had any past brushes with the law.

"What does it matter?" she said through tears.

She said her son graduated from Lodi Adult School and was working at a bakery, though he had wanted to go back to school to become an electrician, like his father. She hasn't spoken directly to her son - only to her ex-husband who relayed her son's version of the story to her. She learned about his arrest when she discovered reporters camped out in front of her home - she at first thought they were Mormons - and called police for help. It's the authorities who told her why the reporters were there.

Victoria Montgomery did not want to speak on camera about her son; she was emotional during a phone interview as she said she is at a loss for what to do. She feels horrible for both families.

"I don't want to say anything bad about my son," she said. "I'm sure these are both good kids and who ended up both having a bad result."
 
The  Associated Press contributed to this report.

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