Several youth basketball players jumped a referee on Sunday at the “Love Of The Game” basketball event in Lithonia, Georgia.
The captured video shows the attack began at Stronghold Christian Church with at least five young men confronting the official.
The referee attempted to defend himself from many punches before being taken to the ground in the clip. The group repeatedly punched and kicked the official as spectators crowded around to watch.
Kenneth Tarver, the founder of KB Sports, told TMZ Sports an investigation is underway. The police arrived at the scene, and the unidentified ref received 30 stitches following the attack, but no severe injuries have been reported.
Tarver said the referee is expected to recover fully, and he vowed to increase security at future events to make it “safer for the officials.” He noted that the teams consisted of eight graders, and the team involved in the brawl has been barred from future events.
Paris Cherry, a former pro basketball player who is now the youth basketball development coach, said that he was disappointed in the crowd for not intervening.
“The referee appears outnumbered from the very start,” Cherry told WSB-TV. “I was appalled. It was a very scary video. To see the adults instigate and then the kids follow up to the point where it was the kids who chased down the referee at the end of the video it’s just disgusting. And it seems like there wasn’t any adult trying to break it up.”
Dr. Benjamin Gaither, the Stronghold Church pastor, released a Facebook statement calling the incident “truly unfortunate.”
“It is truly unfortunate about the turn of events that took place during the basketball game held at our facility this weekend,” Gaither said. “We open our doors to serve our community, and our goal is to provide an atmosphere conducive for enjoyment, enrichment, etc.”
“While we can not control people, our hope and prayer is that those who enter our facility will conduct themselves in the best manner. Our prayers go out to all those involved in this current situation,” he added.
No charges have been pressed against the five young men.