VENTURA COUNTY (CBSLA.com/AP) — A California junior college football player has been arrested after being accused of punching a referee during a game Saturday night.
The Ventura County Star reports that Mount San Antonio freshman offensive linesman Bernard Schirmer was immediately ejected from the game and later arrested on suspicion of battery and taken to Ventura County jail.
According to the school’s team roster, Schirmer is 6 feet, 5 inches tall and weighs about 270 pounds.
Police say the official, whose name was not released, had broken up an argument between players and was struck while walking Schirmer back to his huddle.
Trainers from both Mount San Antonio and Ventura College immediately raced onto the field to tend to the injured official. He was replaced and did not return to the game.
On Sunday, the college issued a statement about the incident. The statement read in part:
Mt. San Antonio College (Mt. SAC) maintains high standards of conduct for all students and student -athletes.
During the Saturday night football game between Mt. SAC and Ventura College, a Mt. SAC player was removed from the game for allegedly striking a referee.
After closely reviewing video footage and interviewing those involved and outside witnesses, Mt. SAC maintains that the student-athlete, Bernard Schirmer, unintentionally hit the referee.
During a disagreement after a play, numerous people surrounded him and pulled him away from the opposing player. Out of frustration, Mr. Schirmer struck himself on the helmet, a habit he often does to calm himself down. In doing so, he inadvertently hit the referee and initially believed someone else had done so.
Mr. Shirmer expressed deep remorse about the incident and any harm to the referee.”
The Ventura County Star reports that California Community College Athletic Association bylaws say striking an official is punishable by a five-year ban.
Schirmer and the school as well as a Schirmer teammate, quarterback Rico Bruton, insist what happened was an accident.
“I saw when he hit his own helmet,” says Bruton, “there wasn’t even no, like the way the video makes it seem he punched him, but he did not punch him.” He insists Schirmer is a “good kid” and just let his anger get the best of him.
KCAL9’s Erica Nochlin spoke to some people who said not so fast.
The game’s announcer, Mike Zepeda, said he thinks the college freshman just ended his football career with one punch.
“When we looked at the replay,” he said, “it was pretty clear. He knew exactly who he was going after with the punch, and it landed. It was quite the haymaker.”
Campus police said the ref was treated at the scene and released.
CBS Los Angeles