Details released in arrest of Winter Classic beating suspect
PHILADELPHIA - January 13, 2012 (WPVI) -- Police have made an arrest in connection with a brawl between Philadelphia Flyers fans and New York Rangers fans following the Winter Classic.
32-year-old Dennis Veteri of Glassboro, N.J. was taken into custody on Thursday and charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, conspiracy and recklessly endangering another person. Bail was set at $100,000.
Veteri was arraigned shortly after 2:00 a.m. Friday and was released after posting bail. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for January 31.
The charges stem from what is described by police as a "vicious beating" on an off duty Woodbridge, New Jersey police officer and Iraq war veteran back on January 2, 2012 outside Geno's Steaks in South Philadelphia.
Video of the fight posted on YouTube showed the argument between a group of Flyers fans and a handful of New York Rangers fans standing in line at Geno's.
Things quickly got physical when one of the Flyers fans, identified as Veteri, suddenly took a swing at the New Jersey police officer, who was wearing a Rangers jersey. After several punches, the officer is overcome and falls to the ground. On the ground, the officer was then punched by a second man while a third tried to intervene, both wearing Flyers jerseys.
A man also wearing a Rangers jersey then joined the fight in defense of the officer, but he too was quickly attacked, being punched and knocked to the ground.
The officer, no longer the focus of the attackers, managed to get back on his feet. But within seconds, Veteri noticed him and delivered a brutal punch - knocking the officer to the ground unconscious.
After reviewing the video and talking to witnesses, police say it is clear that the fight was instigated by Viteri and his associates.
The police officer, identified as Neal Auricchio, received a concussion and severe facial damage, which will require facial reconstructive surgery. The former Marine earned a Purple Heart after being wounded in Iraq in 2007.
Police said the video prompted tips that eventually led them to Veteri by way of a credit card receipt from another restaurant at the intersection that was paid just before the fight. Police say Veteri is no stranger to law enforcement. Online court records show Veteri has a history of arrests in Philadelphia, including a guilty plea following a 1998 aggravated assault arrest.
Police are still looking for at least two others involved in the beating. The investigation continues.
Information provided by The Associated Press was used in this report.
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