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Soccer referee killed at a game

A man knocked a referee at a Detroit-area soccer match unconscious with a punch to the head, then ran to a car before "peeling out," a witness to the attack says on a 911 call released Wednesday.

The emergency call was distributed by Livonia police a day after the referee, 44-year-old John Bieniewicz, died at a Detroit hospital. Police said the weekend attack at Mies Park came after Bieniewicz announced his intention to eject the man from the game.

"The referee is knocked out. He's not waking up," the unidentified woman says on the 911 call. She says CPR was being performed on the referee, who did not appear to be breathing.

After the assault, the woman says, the assailant and another man ran to a black Jeep Wrangler featuring "a huge Brazil flag."

"Oh God. They're peeling out," the woman tells the dispatcher.

Prosecutors have charged 36-year-old Baseel Abdul-Amir Saad of Dearborn with assault with intent to do great bodily harm. The Wayne County prosecutor's office said the charges would be reviewed and possibly amended when it had the necessary documentation.

No new charges had been brought as of Wednesday, said Maria Miller, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor's office. County medical examiner's spokeswoman Mary Mazur said an autopsy would take place Thursday at the earliest.

Saad, an auto mechanic who has been playing soccer for 16 years in the area, is not guilty of the charges and "wishes to extend his deepest sympathy to the family and friends of John Bieniewicz," said defence lawyer Brian Berry.

Berry said Saad has two children and supports two stepchildren.

"Just yesterday, when I visited Mr. Saad at the Wayne County jail, he stated: 'I just want to go home and hug and kiss my kids,'" Berry said Wednesday.

Bieniewicz, a dialysis technician at Mott Children's Hospital, lived in the Detroit suburb of Westland with his wife and two sons, ages 13 and 9. He was a soccer enthusiast who refereed games for two decades.

Two funds have been set up to help with funeral expenses and for Bieniewicz's family. One, set up by friends, had raised $50,000 as of Wednesday afternoon. The other is through Huntington Bank.

 

The Canadian Press

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