Brawling Fans Interrupt Action At East Regional Wrestling Tournament

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While wrestlers from around central Arizona battled for East region supremacy Saturday, a fight broke out in the stands that for a few moments took the focus off the competition at Wilson Dome.

That fight led to the arrest of 23-year-old Chad Lewis Williams of Show Low, who was charged with disorderly conduct and making threats.

"Apparently, a kid got hurt on the mat, and that set the whole thing off," Payson Police Officer Dave Blalock said.

That wrestler was Show Low athlete Tim Williams, who suffered a broken elbow in a bout against his Snowflake opponent.

"The kid getting hurt made some of the fans from Show Low upset, and one of them ran down to the floor and was asked by a ref to return to his seat," Blalock said.

The officer, who was standing outside Wilson Dome at the time, heard the call for medical help over his radio, and went inside in time to see the fight starting in the stands.

"I noticed some people yelling back and forth and pointing fingers," he said. "That's when I went up and contacted one of them. He didn't want to leave, so I helped him."

Blalock said that as he was escorting Williams out of the dome, fans started cheering, "which lit everybody up inside,"

Outside the dome, officer Doug Johnson who was on duty at the match along with Blalock ordered Marty Williams, another brother of the injured wrestler, to leave the school grounds.

Both Williams brothers were involved in the altercation in the stands, officers said.

After shouting and arguing with Johnson, Marty Williams reluctantly left the campus.

While Blalock and Johnson were trying to restore order, fans from other White Mountain area schools spilled out of the dome into the south parking lot. Payson High coaches and some local parents also left the dome, ready to lend their support to the local officers.

"To make a long story short, one brother was arrested, and basically other people associated with him ended up leaving," Blalock said.

Three other spectators also were asked to leave one local and two out-of-towners for their behavior, Lt. Don Engler said.

Chad Williams was booked into Gila County jail that and was released that day after posting a $601 bond.

"The neat thing about the disturbance was the way the staff handled it," Payson High School principal Phil Gille said. "The police were also good with the quick way they handled the situation.

"We always try, as a staff, to stress good sportsmanship in front of our students," he said.

Read about the Payson Longhorns' winning their 23rd regional wrestling title in today's (Feb. 6) Internet Edition of the Payson Roundup.

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