SAN FRANCISCO -- Huddled in the shadow of AT&T Park, blocks from where Jonathan Denver was stabbed to death last week after watching his Dodgers play the Giants, his emotional family on Sunday appealed to witnesses who might give any answers about his death to step forward.
"This is an incredibly difficult time for our family as you can imagine," Denver's father, Robert Preece, said at a news conference at Willie Mays Plaza about an hour before the Giants final game of the season. "Losing a child is a heartache no parent should endure."
Wearing Dodger blue T-shirts emblazoned with the message "RIP Jon" and handing out fliers reading, "Justice for Jon," the family was met by sympathetic Giants fans as they appealed for help in their quest for justice.
Denver, 24, of Fort Bragg, died shortly after the Giants' 6-4 win over the Dodgers when he was stabbed near Third and Perry streets following a melee between two groups of people about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, police said. That fight occurred just moments after the group argued at Third and Stillman streets, police said.
Police detained a 21-year-old Giants fan, Michael Montgomery, of Lodi, after the incident, but he was released Friday evening without being charged. Montgomery's parents have maintained in separate media interviews that their son stabbed Denver in self-defense. Denver's family would not address those claims Sunday, and his father declined to talk about the events of the evening.
"Both our families, the Montgomerys and us, are looking for some sort of closure regarding the situation," said Preece, who works as a security guard for Dodgers home games and attended Wednesday night's game in San Francisco with his two sons to celebrate his birthday.
Preece said he believes somebody videotaped the incident and urged anyone with information to call police. Calls to the San Francisco Police Department on Sunday were not returned. Preece did not say why he believes the stabbing was taped.
Denver's mother, Diana Denver, tried to read a statement to those gathered but was too overcome with emotion. Jonathan Denver's aunt, Jill Haro, read the statement, saying the family was "outraged" at reports they say portrayed their son in a false light. His mom described Denver as a peaceful, down-to-earth human being who loved his family.
"My family and the entire community are outraged at the media's portrayal maligning my son's character," Haro said. "They've made untrue statements about his life that are intended to create bias and are completely irrelevant."
The family did not cite specific reports, but a booking picture of Jonathan Denver wearing a Dodgers shirt after a recent DUI arrest was widely circulated. Reports also indicated the confrontation, reportedly stemming from the long-standing rivalry between the Giants and the Dodgers, might have been started by Denver or one of the members of his group.
The family also indicated they were not pleased with Montgomery's release from custody. Montgomery walked out of jail Friday after prosecutors declined to file murder charges, citing a lack of evidence.
"The alleged perpetrator was released from jail 48 hours after my son was fatally stabbed, and yet my Jonathan is gone forever," Haro said, reading a statement by Denver's mother¿.
Calls to the office of San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon were not returned Sunday, but Gascon said Friday that the burden to prove Montgomery did not act in self-defense is on prosecutors, and that his office needs "independent corroboration of the incident in order to meet the ethical obligation to charge in this case."
Calls to Marty Montgomery, Michael Montgomery's father, went straight to a voice mail Sunday. His mother, Victoria Montgomery, told the Stockton Record in Sunday's editions that her son was back at home in Lodi and maintained he acted in self-defense. She also said he was struggling with "mixed emotions" over the incident.
"I think he's relieved -- really relieved -- but at the same time, he's still really messed up about what happened, what he did and what he saw," Victoria Montgomery told the Record. "How could you ever get that out of your head? It's traumatizing."
Denver's family would not comment on the Montgomerys' claims of self-defense. Preece said he planned to return to Los Angeles on Sunday, and Diana Denver was expected to return to Fort Bragg
"The only thing I know is I lost my son too soon," Preece said, through tears, and a cracking voice. "More than once at that game, my son told me how much he loved me. That will remain the most cherished memory I have."
Anyone with information is urged to contact San Francisco police Sgt. Daniel Dedet at 415-553-9130. Anonymous tips can be left at 415-575-4444.
Staff writer David DeBolt contributed to this report. Contact Rick Hurd at 925-945-4789. Follow Hurd at Twitter.com/3rdERH.