Final game of 49th John Wall Holiday Invitational ends in massive BRAWL, tear gas fired

Tear gas was deployed by a security guard to stop the massive fight that broke out between fans at the prestigious high school basketball tournament


                            Final game of 49th John Wall Holiday Invitational ends in massive BRAWL, tear gas fired
Screengrabs of the fight that broke out between fans at the basketball tournament at Wake Technical Community College on the night of December 29 (Bryce Stueck/Twitter)

RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA: Tear gas was deployed by a security guard to stop a massive fight that happened between fans during a popular high school basketball tournament at Wake Technical Community College on Wednesday night. 

The crowd fight interrupted the final game of 49th John Wall Holiday Invitational — one of the top high school basketball tournaments in the US. The tournament was renamed in 2016 when NBA All-Star and Raleigh native John Wall became its title sponsor. The tournament sees the very best high school basketball teams in the state and country competing for the win. 

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It is unclear what prompted the fight that broke out at Wake Technical Community College's Northern Wake campus, where the finals were hosted. But it was very clear that none of the players were involved. 

According to Bryan Hanks, spokesperson for the tournament, "the fight happened during a game between Farmville Central and Kissimmee, Florida's Life Christian Academy." Hanks stated that when the fight began, the security "had already been stretched thin" due to a prior fight that occurred among players from Southern California Academy of Castaic, California, and Moravian Prep from Hudson, North Carolina. The spokesperson said, "security guard sprayed tear gas to successfully break up the fight" after the crowd brawl began." The gym was evacuated by officials shortfly afterward. 

Hanks said that the organizers are working hard to make the event safe. He added, "This event has taken place for 49 years, we've never had anything even close to something like this." "I can guarantee you nothing like that happen today is going to happen today." The deployment of tear gas "created an unsafe situation for players in the Farmville Central and Life Christian game" prompting the tournament to reschedule the game to Thursday morning, on December 30. 

In a video shared by a Twitter user Bryce Stueck, several fans can be seen beating each other up near the court sidelines. The fight escalates to the point where some people start lifting up chairs to hit others. A security guard attempted to break up the fight. When he was unsuccessful, the guard sprayed tear gas at those involved. Still, several individuals continued fighting, prompting the security to spray tear gas again. At the end of the video, the unruly fans are seen running away from the court after having successfully disrupted the finals. 



 

Hanks, tournament spokesperson said, "in response to the incident, the tournament games on Thursday are expected to have a smaller attendance and increased security presence." Webb Wellman, the tournament's co-director, also expressed his disappointment. "What happened tonight doesn't represent John Wall, the Triangle Education Advancement Foundation or the Holiday Invitational," he said, adding, "We love our players, we love our fans and we will work hard to ensure this doesn't happen again. This event is about the love of the game and violence will never be acceptable. We apologize to our fans and supporters and look forward to better serving you moving forward."