A high school athlete was arrested today after allegedly threatening a referee and grabbing his shirt then pushing down a security guard at the Texaco/HHSAA Wrestling State Championships at Blaisdell Arena.
According to witnesses, Vitale Afoa, 18, of Leilehua was upset about losing his 285-pound preliminary round match against Baldwin’s Nephi Laga due to penalties assessed by officials. While other matches were going on, Afoa approached the referee, grabbing his shirt and threatening him, witnesses said.
The incident caused a commotion in the arena and temporarily stopped all matches going on the six mats.
A security guard, who tried to break up the skirmish after a group of Afoa’s agitated friends and family moved from one mat to another, was allegedly knocked down by Afoa.
Afoa, his friends and family were escorted out of the arena by HHSAA officials, which took about five minutes.
After leaving the arena, Afoa and his family gathered outside on the concourse and were eventually met by a police officer. About five minutes later, two squad cars arrived and a group of officers handcuffed Afoa, who was still wearing the bottom half of his singlet with the top half pulled down.
“I’m glad we had adequate security enough to handle it,” HHSAA executive director Chris Chun said. “I appreciate the police response that came. It just shows that we need to protect our officials and our administrators and we need support from the whole community. I’m just thankful no one got hurt and we handled this situation so our tournament can go on.”
A bill in the state Legislature would make assaulting a sports official a felony.