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Auburn Police: Racial slur sparked fight involving Patterson players after Placer football loss

Details emerge from confrontation that left 14-year-old Auburn youth injured
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Details emerged Monday about a racially charged, physical confrontation between Patterson High School football players and Auburn spectators after the team’s Nov. 11 playoff loss to Placer. One Auburn teenager was injured in the ruckus while another was referred to Placer County juvenile probation authorities on an allegation of battery on school grounds. Because of identification difficulties during the skirmish, no Patterson players have been linked by name in the police investigation of the late Friday night incident. While officials from both schools were silent on the issue Monday, Auburn Police released information from its just-completed investigation stating that it was touched off by a 14-year-old white, male juvenile from Auburn directing a racial epithet at Patterson players. Sgt. Dale Hutchins said the epithet – the inflammatory and denigrating N-word – was called out by the youth as Patterson players were coming off the LeFebvre Stadium field and walking to the locker room. The 14-year-old was not a Placer High student, he said. The confrontation came after a first-round playoff game won by Placer 48-28 over the Patterson team. Patterson is a central valley farming community of 21,000, located 20 miles south of Modesto. Its population is predominantly Hispanic according to census records. Thirty-six percent of its residents are white and 1.6 percent black. Officer Dave Nehr, Placer High school resource officer for Auburn Police, said the youth who touched off the confrontation is not associated with the Hillmen football program. An Auburn Police officer at the game was able to intervene after the 14-year-old’s friend – another white juvenile who did not go to Placer – was knocked to the ground. The friend suffered minor injuries and was taken by ambulance to Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital, Nehr said. Punches were thrown in the melee but no one was knocked out, Hutchins said. “One kid was on the ground but he was fully conscious when the officer found him,” Hutchins said. The youth who initiated the confrontation was seen involved in a physical confrontation with a Patterson player and his case was referred to juvenile authorities on the battery-on-school-grounds allegation, Hutchins said. With players in full football gear and helmets, it was not possible to identify Patterson team members involved in the altercation, Nehr said. For the Patterson Tigers, the incident marred a season in which the team finished with a record of 7-4. Placer played Friday against Del Oro High School in Loomis, losing 41-12 in their second Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoff game. Placer Coach Joey Montoya and Principal Pete Efstathiu were unavailable for comment Monday. The Patterson Irrigator newspaper reported the Tigers coach had declined since the incident to comment. The Patterson Irrigator contributed to this story.