Baseball Blast Wasn't Caused By Firecracker - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Baseball Blast Wasn't Caused By Firecracker

CLEVELAND (AP) - Authorities said that the explosive device thrown at Jacobs Field during Tuesday night's game wasn't just a firecracker. Cleveland Fire Chief Kevin Gerrity said that it was either homemade or something used by a pyrotechnics professional.

As the explosion echoed through Jacobs Field, players stopped in their tracks, a few ducked for cover and Philadelphia manager Larry Bowa cringed.

"I didn't know what is was," Bowa said. "These days you think the worst."

Three men suspected of throwing the explosive remain in City Jail on Thursday. They are Donald Kreiger and Clifton Oliver, both 22, and 20-year-old Andrew Mendez. All are from Elyria.

They have not been charged but are being held on suspicion of felonious assault and aggravated arson while investigators try to determine exactly what kind of explosive they allegedly set off. Fire Lt. Clayton Cunningham said investigators want to be sure what was set off before deciding what to do about charges.

Police had believed that it was a large firecracker that was thrown from the ballpark's upper deck. Whatever it was, it injured two people -- one an Indians employee.

One of the injured, identified as Judy Knight, was treated for superficial burns at MetroHealth Medical Center and then released. The other injury was suffered by Brian Burke, an usher who works for the team, said Indians vice president Dennis Lehman.

The blast in a lower-level smoking area was heard throughout the ballpark in the top of the ninth inning of the Indians' 5-1 victory over Philadelphia.

"I looked around for smoke," Indians designated hitter Ellis Burks said. "And all the fans got really quiet."

Burks said he doesn't feel unsafe on the field, but worries about how fans could be susceptible in today's uncertain times.

"With the stuff that's going on, you come out to a ballgame and you are open prey for a terrorist or anybody," Burks said. "All it takes is for somebody to do something stupid."

A few of the players on the field ducked their heads, and both dugouts emptied when the explosion went off at 9:23 p.m.

"It was loud," Indians manager Charlie Manuel said. "It sounded like two trucks running together."

Team spokesman Bob DiBiasio said security personnel could not have stopped the fireworks from being brought into the stadium since none of the men carried a bag.

"They didn't bring it in anything we checked. We do not ask for fans to unload their pockets when they enter the ballpark," DiBiasio said.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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