Basketball Referee Assaulted by Players and Parents in Church Gym: Video

Police are investigating the assault of a youth basketball referee that took place inside a gymnasium at a Georgia church.

A spokesperson for the DeKalb County Police Department told Newsweek that the incident took place Sunday at Stronghold Christian Church in Lithonia. Police were called in reference to an assault on a referee, allegedly at the hands of both youth basketball players and adults.

"Upon arrival, officers located the victim who advised that he was assaulted by multiple suspects after the basketball game," the spokesperson said. "The incident is under investigation at this time."

A video of the incident taken from the stands by an unknown individual was posted on Facebook. In the video, one of the players takes a shot as the buzzer sounds and then a handful of players and adults slowly move toward a referee near one of the baskets.

Suddenly, a cascade of punches are thrown at the ref as he attempts to dodge the attack as the group shifts to the other end of the court. At one point, the referee takes a swing and seems to connect with one of the youth players. Another ref on the scene is seen scrambling and avoids getting into the fray.

Referee
A youth basketball referee was assaulted by youth and adults following a game Sunday in Georgia. Police are investigating what provoked the incident. iStock/Getty Images

Meanwhile, the fight shifts over to another court where another game is in session. At one point the ref is bombarded and is seen on the floor when a man dressed in red seems to hit him with an uppercut before walking away. Some youth and adults are also seen kicking the ref.

The audible crowd included some people cheering and laughing. Others are heard yelling "No!" and "Oh my god!" and "What did y'all do that for?"

It remains unclear what led to the assault.

The Facebook video has nearly 10,000 comments. Some comments included the words "ignorant" and "heartbreaking."

"It starts with the coaches," one man commented. "They condoned and participated in this violence. And to the other male ref. What kinda dude are you to allow that man to get jumped like that?"

"And this is funny to some of y'all?" a woman commented. "But yet, when the police shows up & touches your child, they're wrong? Disgusting & I hope all of them got arrested!"

Dr. Benjamin Gaither, a pastor at Stronghold Church, posted a statement Monday on the church's Facebook page.

"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, it is our hope and prayer that those who enter our facility will conduct themselves in the best manner," he continued. "Our prayers go out to all those involved in this current situation."

Newsweek reached out to Dr. Gaither for further comment.

Parris Cherry, a former professional basketball player who is now the youth basketball development coach, told WSB-TV 2 Atlanta he was horrified by the incident.

"The referee appears outnumbered from the very start," Cherry said. "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."

A similar incident involving a basketball coach and referee occurred last month in Thousands Oaks, California, that was also captured in a Facebook video.

DeKalb County Police said they are not providing any other information.