Fire

One man shot during Kentucky fans' celebration

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One man shot during Kentucky fans' celebration

From Comcast SportsNet
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) -- One man was wounded by gunfire early Tuesday in Lexington, numerous small fires were set and dozens were arrested as thousands celebrated Kentucky's win over Kansas to claim another NCAA title, authorities reported. Battalion Chief Ed Davis of the Lexington Division of Fire and Emergency Services said he saw the shooting as he was filling out paperwork on a wreck involving a fire engine. Davis said he heard yelling about 25 feet away, and one man started shooting at another. He said the gun was fired "quite a few times." Police Lt. Clayton Roberts said no arrests had been made in the shooting, which happened shortly after 2 a.m. EDT. The gunman disappeared into the crowd and behind some buildings and police could not locate him, Roberts said. The wounded man, who is in his 30s, was taken to University of Kentucky Medical Center with serious injuries that weren't believed to be life-threatening, Roberts said. The shooting happened after some people inside a vehicle had words with others who were standing on a sidewalk, Roberts said. He said the people in the car got out, and a person on the sidewalk opened fire with a handgun, hitting a man from the vehicle. Fans filled the streets near the Lexington campus within minutes of the championship game's conclusion late Monday. They jumped up and down, screamed, sprayed beer and waved Kentucky flags. Lexington police had arrested several dozen people by the time the game had been over only a few minutes, police spokeswoman Sherelle Roberts said late Monday. "We're seeing fires being lit and things of that nature," Roberts said, adding that people had set couches and at least one car on fire. A car crashed into the patio area at a bar and grill where some people were dining, but the metal-and-brick wall kept the vehicle from getting onto the patio, she said. She didn't have information about injuries. Police had also handed out numerous citations, many for alcohol-related offenses, Roberts said. "I think that we're taking a more zero-tolerance approach," she said. "That has a part to play in it, but also people started celebrating much earlier than they did on Saturday. The amount of time to become intoxicated and the amount of time for us to be in contact with these intoxicated people has increased." About two hours after the game, Roberts said police had arrested people for charges such as criminal mischief, disorderly conduct, alcohol intoxication and setting fires. She said officers were still making arrests but didn't have a precise estimate. She said police had used some pepper spray to break up fights. The fire division's Davis said about 56 fire runs had been made in the area where fans had gathered. One was a garage fire, but the rest were smaller nuisance fires involving couches or bedding, he said. Davis knew of no fire-related injuries. Emergency medical workers transported about 25 people to hospitals for treatment, mostly minor, he said. A lot of them were people who were intoxicated, while some had been hit by thrown objects or been involved in fights, Davis said. The situation was similar to Saturday's celebrations that resulted in several small fires, Davis said, although the area was more widespread Monday. "There are literally thousands of people downtown everywhere," he said a couple hours after the game was over. "Ninety-nine percent are doing what they're supposed to." For their part, revelers said the post-game celebration was a far cry from the weekend mayhem. They credited heavy security. "It was much worse Saturday," said 20-year-old Miranda Snow, who recalled seeing couch fires and other blazes two nights earlier. UK sophomore Cameron Chaney, 20, agreed. "It seems like they have more authorities tonight." Police had said they would be prepared following the disturbance that accompanied the Wildcats' win over cross-state rival Louisville on Saturday night. Rowdy fans torched couches and turned over cars that night. After Kentucky sealed its win Monday night in New Orleans, fans back home streamed out of bars to fill the intersection of Euclid and Woodland streets, some throwing beer cans into the air. Police in riot gear looked on but kept their distance at that corner. Some revelers even stopped officers and asked to get photos taken with them and to shake hands. Officers happily obliged. Students weren't the only ones celebrating. The revelers included Marie Allison, a 1968 UK graduate who was wearing a blue Final Four shirt. She recalled the last championship in 1998 and said, "This night is terrific. It's even better than back then." Meanwhile, Kansas fans in downtown Lawrence took their team's loss to Kentucky in stride Monday night as they poured onto Massachusetts Street amid random cries of "Rock Chalk Jayhawk," with many proclaiming their pride in a team that wasn't picked to finish in the top three in the Big 12 Conference. Storekeepers said basketball fans -- students and older residents alike -- began crowding the entertainment strip of bars, restaurants and specialty shops near the Kansas campus, well before 5 p.m. in anticipation of the game against the heavily favored Wildcats. "It's OK, because look how far they made it," Jobi Pierson, 51, from McLouth, about 20 minutes from Lawrence, said as the final seconds ticked away from Kansas' national title hopes. "No matter what, they did well. I feel proud of them and I'm happy with what they've done." A heavy police presence -- one police officer estimated about 250, but told a reporter "that's not enough" -- emerged at halftime and set up in groups of six along street corners to deter troublemakers. That included 70 Kansas Highway Patrol troopers brought in from across the state. A mass of red and blue-clad basketball fans spilled into the street afterward, bringing traffic to a standstill. In Kentucky, police earlier Monday had forcefully warned Wildcat fans that a repeat of the dangerous weekend celebrations around the Lexington campus wouldn't be tolerated. Lexington Police Chief Ronnie Bastin said some revelers Saturday night acted in a "dangerous and criminal" way by setting fires, overturning cars and hurling bottles into the air. Police used pepper spray in small amounts for crowd control after thousands of rowdy fans swarmed into the streets. Officers made more than 30 arrests near the UK campus Saturday night for arson, criminal mischief and disorderly conduct, and authorities were expecting more arrests from that night's revelry. Police showed the media photos of people in Saturday night's crowds who have been targeted for arson and assault charges once they are identified. Bastin had said patrols would be beefed up for Monday's game. University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto also issued a warning Monday ahead of the game, saying the rowdy behavior detracted from the success of the players "who have worked tirelessly to represent UK at a national level." University officials warned students that aside from criminal charges, students could face suspension or expulsion for bad behavior. UK's campus was peaceful Monday afternoon, but excitement was in the air as blue-clad fans and students eagerly anticipated Kentucky's first trip to the title game in 14 years. Shouts of "Go Cats!" and honking horns were already audible near the campus' main library in the early afternoon. Across the street, sophomore Colby Myers and a friend were constructing a humorous tribute to Kentucky star forward and AP Player of the Year Anthony Davis. In the front yard of the Farmhouse Fraternity on Hilltop Avenue, they were sticking black plastic forks in the ground in the shape of Davis's bushy eyebrows -- which Myers and other fans endearingly call Davis's "unibrow." In Louisville, home of the University of Louisville Cardinals, Kentucky Wildcats fans out filled bars and celebrated as the game neared an end Monday night. "This is huge, this is unbelievable," UK fan Jeff Douglas told WAVE-TV. "I can't believe we got past Louisville and I just want to beat Kansas so bad." Things were going so well for Kentucky that one Wildcats fan even looked on one of the team's chief rivals with fondness. "I'm not a Cardinal fan, but I'm glad that they were there with us. It made it magical, and frankly if they would have won, I would have been rooting for them, so it's about bringing it back to the state where basketball is king," Billy Wade told the station.

Joao Meira spills the first news of the Fire's offseason

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USA TODAY

Joao Meira spills the first news of the Fire's offseason

The wait to find out which players have their options picked up or declined by the Fire might still be a couple weeks, but the first news of a player move in the Fire's offseason came via Twitter.

Defender Joao Meira announced he won't be returning to the club in 2018.

Meira signed with the Fire just before the start of the 2016 preseason after being out of contract in Europe. The Portuguese center back signed a one-year deal with a club option for the second year.

After he played 28 matches with 26 starts in 2016, the Fire picked up his option. He became even more of a fixture at center back in 2017, beating out Jonathan Campbell for the other starting spot alongside Johan Kappelhof. Meira played in 30 regular season matches and made 27 starts, finishing fourth on the team in minutes played (2,412).

That Meira won't be back isn't a major surprise for a few reasons. First, he was out of contract. He was one of two players, along with Bastian Schweinsteiger, on the Fire's roster that the team had no control over for 2018. On top of that, the 30-year-old had made it clear that he wanted to be closer to his home and family in Portugal.

Meira's departure leaves a gap at the center back position for the Fire. Kappelhof, who enters the third year of a three-year guaranteed deal in 2018, and Campbell, who will likely have his club option picked up, enter as the only healthy center backs in 2018. Christian Dean was added in August via trade, but is coming off a broken foot, an injury that has plagued him before. His status for the start of the 2018 season is unclear.

Grant Lillard, a potential homegrown signing and a senior at Indiana, could compete for time at center back next season. He is one of the top rated players in the country for the Hoosiers, which are the No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. While Lillard could step in from a numbers perspective and would add size to the Fire's back line (Lillard is 6-foot-4), he wouldn't be able to replace Meira's ability on the ball. Meira wasn't as effective of a defender as Kappelhof, but was arguably the best passer among the Fire's center backs and helped alleviate pressure at times.

This also opens up an international spot on the Fire's roster. The Fire went over the alloted total last season, but were able to put John Goossens and Jorge Bava on the disabled list to clear room. Meira's exit gives a bit more flexibility in that department.

Bears-Lions prediction: Will special teams continue John Fox's NFC North woes?

Bears-Lions prediction: Will special teams continue John Fox's NFC North woes?

Only three of John Fox’s 12 wins as Bears coach have been against NFC North opponents, while 12 of his 29 losses have come against divisional opponents. 

That’s a recipe for back-to-back-to-back last place finishes in the NFC North. And if the Bears can’t beat an Aaron Rodgers-less Green Bay Packers team, why could it beat a Detroit Lions team that has a healthy franchise quarterback?

The positive end of that answer is the Bears do have wins over two playoff teams (Pittsburgh and Carolina) while six of their four losses have been by eight points or fewer. Sunday’s game will probably be close, again (if it’s not, and the Bears are on the losing end of it, it would raise some significant concerns about the state of Fox within the locker room). 

So if the game is decided by one possession or less, this could be the difference: Detroit has one of the best special teams units in the NFL, ranking second in Football Outsiders’ DVOA, while the Bears are 28th by the same measure. 

Getting Sherrick McManis back this week should help solidify Jeff Rodgers’ special teams units, but Jamal Agnew has two punt return scores and is averaging 18.3 yards per return. 

“Tough guy — he’ll return inside and outside,” Rodgers said. “He’s got multiple longer returns against people this year. it’s not just, ‘I had a long return in Week 2 or Week 1,’ and kinda held onto that. he’s been productive in a lot of games. certainly a guy that we’ve gotta do a good job against.”

If the Bears don’t do a good job bottling up Agnew, though, he could be the reason why the game flips to Detroit — or, at least, why the Lions keep the Bears at arm’s length. 

Prediction: Lions 24, Bears 16