3rd suspect in ballpark death surrenders

July 28, 2009 8:47:22 AM PDT
A third man wanted in the beating death of a 22-year-old Montgomery County man near Citizens Bank Park has turned himself in. Francis Kirchner, 28, of the 1200 block of East Palmer Street turned himself into police Monday evening.

He will face murder and related charges.

Two other men have already been charged in this case: Charles Bowers, 35, and James Grove, 45, both of Philadelphia.

Both are charged with murder in the beating death of 22-year-old David Sale of Lansdale.

The trouble began Saturday evening inside McFadden's Restaurant and Saloon at the ballpark.

Investigators say a spilled beer led to a fight between two groups: a bachelor party and a busload of fans from Fishtown on a bar tour.

Police say the spill lead to a verbal exchange, then to a fight. Both groups were ejected from McFadden's.

The fight then moved to the "M" lot of Citizen's Bank Park. Sale and seven of his friends fought against the suspects and close to 30 of their friends.

Sale was punched and kicked repeatedly.

"All three of them were beating him," said Capt. James Clark of the Philadelphia Police. "At first, one of the individuals was holding him, like in a headlock, while the other two were beating him. He went down on the ground, sort of on all fours, and they started kicking him and stomping him until he went unconcious."

Sale was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. He was part of the bachelor party group, while the men charged were part of a bar tour organized by Moe's Tavern in Fishtown.

Sale was originally said to be the brother of the bride in this case, but Action News has learned that he is, in fact, a very close friend of the bride's family.

Sale's friends say he was a fun guy who worked at Best Buy store in Montgomeryville, and was always supportive.

He was planning on attending Britteny Taylor's birthday party next weekend.

"It's one thing to get into a bar fight, but to actually beat somebody to death makes me sick. I mean, it is awful," Taylor said. "I can't even imagine."

Fishtown neighbors who didn't want to be interviewed on camera said they're surprised and saddened by the violence and its tragic result.

They describe the fugitive, Kirchner, as a milk delivery man, a helpful neighbor and devoted father.

Police say all three suspects have prior records.

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey say he has proposed legislation to city council that would require bar owners to notify police when they eject people.

The Phillies released a statement about the incident Monday afternoon, reading "The Phillies want to express heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of David Sale. We also want to express our appreciation to the Philadelphia Police Department for their efforts in this matter.

We trust in the justice system and have confidence that the persons responsible for this tragic loss of life will be held accountable. In light of the fact that there are open homicide charges, we do not intend to make any further comments."

There was another victim in this incident, a 30-year-old man, who just happened to be crossing the parking lot when he was jumped by the mob. He was treated at the hospital for his injuries and released.