Town officials are considering a host of changes to the town’s park rental policy in the wake of a fight that left two Raleigh men in jail for their roles in a Sunday afternoon stabbing.
Police say Rigobertto Cruz Estrella was at Thompson Road Park Sunday about 6:15 to watch a soccer game when he got involved in an argument. The fight that followed spilled out onto the playing field and when some of the players tried to break it up, police believe Estrella pulled out a knife and stabbed some of the players. Garner police Sgt. Troy Young said two people were transported to WakeMed with what were believed to be non-life threatening injuries.
Police say Estrella was intoxicated at the time of the incident. Officers found kegs of beer at the park and that was what sparked conversation at Tuesday night’s town council meeting.
Councilman Gra Singleton asked how the town polices its parks facilities on the weekends. Assistant town manager Rodney Dickerson said it was not the town’s practice to patrol the parks when renters are making use of town facilities. He described the incident last Sunday as an unusual one. “We haven’t had any problems out there,” Dickerson said.
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Singleton said the town needs to be more vigilant in policing its property. “They had the field rented until 5 p.m. and this fight happened about 6 p.m.,” Singleton said. “They also fgured out that no one was checking on them. To let someone stay on the property all day and not check on them is probably not a good idea,” Singleton said. He said the park, which is off Timber Drive, is not easily visible from the roadway.
Dickerson told council members that there were between 100 and 150 spectators at the park when the fight broke out. The field was rented by Mayco Calderon of New Hill. Dickerson described Calderon as a long-term renter who pays $30 an hour to rent the Thompson Park field from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. He rents the field every Sunday of the year, making quarterly payments to the town in advance. Dickerson said Calderon has rented the field for at least two years. An informal soccer league plays several games on the soccer field there each Sunday.
Contract prohibited alcohol
In addition to being on the property after rental time had expired, there was also beer on the property, which violates the contract Calderon signed with the town. Dickerson said there are also signs on the park property that prohibit alcohol.
Dickerson said police who arrived on the scene of the fight were told by some of the spectators that some of the people there had beer on the premises. According to reports Dickerson received from some of the officers there were a couple of beer kegs at the field.
Calderon’s lease on the property has been discontinued and the town has refunded the unused portion of rental. Dickerson said Calderon told investigators he was on the other side of the field from where the fight broke out and that he had not seen any beer on the premises.
Calderon will not be allowed to rent the property for at least four to six weeks and Dickerson said parks and recreation staff may decide not to rent the park out to the public at all. Staffers discussed the possibility of requiring any future renters to hire an off-duty police officer or parks and recreation staffer to monitor the park while it is in use.
Estrella, 32, of 1404 Steinbeck Drive, Raleigh, was charged with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill.
Young, the police Sgt., said people were attempting to flee from the park when police arrived. Officers were able to keep the people on the site and later discovered Estrella in a car being driven by Ari Santiago Arias Balderas, 25, of 4420 Fawn Glen Drive, Raleigh. Balderas was charged as an accessory to the crime.
Estrella remains in the Wake County jail under $77,000 bond. Balderas has been released from jail.