Los Angeles

Off-Duty Firefighters, Including ‘Sandlot' Actor, Among Those Charged in Halloween Assault

Two off-duty Los Angeles firefighters and a third man are facing charges they beat up a man on Halloween night, the District Attorney’s office said Tuesday.

One of the firefighters, Michael Vitar, is a former child actor best known for playing Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez in the 1993 movie “The Sandlot.”

According to the felony complaint, Vitar, 36; fellow firefighter Eric Carpenter, 38; and a third man, Thomas Molnar, 45, were all arrested on assault charges Halloween night.

The district attorney’s office said Carpenter was having a Halloween party at his home in Northwest L.A. when they attacked a 22-year-old man on the street who was handing out Halloween candy to children.

Carpenter is charged with inflicting great bodily injury.

Vitar was featured in a 2011 LA Weekly article that said he joined the fire department in Hollywood in 2002 after having spent his childhood working as an actor.

He has a cult following from playing the role of Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez in the 1993 film “The Sandlot,” and he also appeared in “The Mighty Ducks” and numerous commercials.


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Attorneys for Vitar and Molnar told NBC4 the case should never have been filed.

They said the defendants spotted a man in a Halloween mask and costume acting strange and handing out candy to kids from a tray.

They confronted him, and when they couldn’t get a straight answer they worried he might harm the kids, so they escorted him from the area but he returned several times.

Finally, they restrained him while calling authorities. The defense attorneys said during the restraining process the 22-year-old man lost consciousness and Carpenter resuscitated him and eventually an ambulance took him away.

The defense attorneys said they were acting to protect children and they feel confident they will be vindicated.

LAFD issued a statement that said the two firefighters were off duty at the time of the incident. They’ve been placed on administrative leave with pay pending the outcome of the criminal case.

All three are free on bail and they are slated to be arraigned Jan. 21.

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