Three men were behind bars after an alcohol-fueled brawl that left two men with knife wounds broke out in the Rose Bowl parking lot just hours before the USC-UCLA football game.
Arturo Cisneros, 44, of Northridge, was booked on suspicion of attempted murder, and Steven Radu, 27, of Monrovia, and Joshua Elder, 23, of Temple City, were booked on suspicion of assaulting a police officer, Pasadena police Lt. Diego Torres said.
Joshua Dirling, 27, a Cal State Fullerton student, was stabbed in the cheek, and a knife tip was stuck in his cheekbone, according to relatives and published reports.
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Vimal Patel, 24, who was stabbed in the back, was in intensive care at Huntington Memorial Hospital, The Times reported.
Pasadena police Cmdr. Darryl Qualls said alcohol and team rivalry helped spur the fight, but it was an errant football throw that triggered the first exchange about 4:20 p.m. in Parking Lot 1.
Someone in Patel's group threw a football that hit a Mercedes-Benz, leading to a showdown between the owner and whoever threw the ball.
When police arrived, they reported as many as 40 people involved in the fight. Cell phone video of the brawl showed only a few combatants, with others trying to separate the fighters.
Two officers were injured while breaking up the fight, Torres said. One sprained a hand, and one sprained an ankle, he said.
"We do believe alcohol played a factor," Qualls said. "Due to the high fan level because of the game tonight, we think it had to do with some little rivalry."
Hours later, UCLA lost USC 28-14.
Dirling and Patel, also a Cal State Fullerton student, were among a group of 15-20 that had been tail-gaiting in the parking lot since about 6:30 a.m. Saturday, police said.
One of the group, Martin Keeley, told The Los Angeles Times he went to Patel's aid about the time he got stabbed.
"I grabbed the first guy I could and wrestled him to the ground," he told The Times, still wearing a torn and bloodstained shirt.
Others soon began fighting as well.
"It was just people and punches being thrown," Keeley said.
Matthew Dirling told how his brother was stabbed.
"We were in the middle of it, and my brother got popped in the face," he said. "We were having a good time and this broke out."
His girlfriend, Renee Breceda, blamed the fight on drunkenness.