3 Men Face Felony Charges For Throwing Firecracker During Ballgame

CLEVELAND (AP) - Three men were charged with felonious assault and aggravated arson for throwing an explosive device akin to a firecracker at an Indians baseball game Tuesday.

The explosion injured two people and briefly disrupted the ninth inning of the Indians' 5-1 win against Philadelphia.

The three men charged with throwing the device, which fire officials said may have been homemade, will be arraigned Saturday.

Donald Kreiger, 22; Clifton Oliver, 22; and Andrew Mendez, 20, all of Elyria, were charged in municipal court Friday.

Because the charges are a felony, the case will be turned over to county prosecutor William Mason, who will take the matter to a grand jury for an indictment in the next week or so, said spokeswoman Kim Kowalski.

Witnesses told police that three men tossed the firecracker from the upper deck in right field into the street-level smokers' plaza below, yelling "Watch out for the bomb!" an instant before it blew up.

Witnesses said the device was about 8 inches long. It shattered the plastic name tag on usher Brian Burke's chest and burned the legs of Judith Knight, 43, police said.

Knight, of Strongsville, was leaving the game when the device exploded a few inches from her. She was treated at MetroHealth Medical Center and released.

Burke's chest was burned. He was treated at Jacobs Field.

As the explosion echoed through Jacobs Field at 9:23 p.m., players on both teams stopped in their tracks, a few ducked for cover and both dugouts emptied.

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