Las Vegas sports official brutally attacked following basketball game
Editor’s note: FOX5 edited this story to reflect one person was arrested and two others were cited.
LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - Veteran basketball referee Perry Woodward is recovering from serious injuries after being punched outside the Doolittle Community Center. He was sent to the hospital with a brain bleed, concussion, fractured teeth and a complete tear of his ankle.
“I show up to do my two-game set, and I’m working with a familiar coach,” referee Shawn Rowe said. “I figure worst case it will be a slight confrontation, but nothing serious. It was everything but.”
Rowe worked a high school recreation league game at the community center May 17. Rowe said one of the coaches continued to chirp at him even after the game was over. Rowe said that continued even as they tried to leave the gym. He said workers at the rec center made sure to separate the coach from the referee since they knew the coach was still heated.
Rowe’s friend and fellow referee Perry Woodward stood by to make sure his coworker was going to get out of the parking lot safely. Woodward was not working the game.
The coach, his wife and teenage son continued to escalate the conflict, according to the referees.
Next, Rowe said the woman lunged toward him.
“Walking in between the Doolittle staff that separates us, and she lunges at me I throw my hand up and I take a step back,” Rowe said.
Rowe said moments later Woodward then became the victim of an attack. He said the coach and his son both ran toward Woodward and punched him in the face.
“It was two guys taking a swing at Perry and they connect with him,” Rowe said. “Then I hear a loud thump against the concrete. It felt like everything stopped. Then I looked at Perry, and I honestly thought he died.”
Doctors said Woodward is lucky to be alive. He still has another surgery lined up this week to repair his ankle.
“We have constant threats towards us all over town doing games, but to see this kind of violence to an official. It’s hard for me to find a story where this much physical injury occurred to someone who was here to officiate a game,” President of the Southern Nevada Officials Association Vince Kristosik said.
Kristosik said violence towards referees is on the rise around the country, at the same time they are having a harder time recruiting new people to work games.
“I’ve been a high school official 30 years,” Kristosik said. “These incidents are increasing every year, and unless people realize, without officials we’re not going to have games.”
Rowe still has a hard time talking about the incident, and even harder to watching his friend in pain. However, the officials said this has to be a lesson to everyone.
“Officials, coaches, parents and kids we have a responsibility. We have to stop that,” Rowe said.
One person was arrested and two others were cited, according to City of Las Vegas officials.
Kristosik said the basketball community, including other coaches, have rallied around Woodward in support.
A GoFundMe was started to raise money for his medical expenses.
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