ORLANDO, Fla. – An off-duty Orange County deputy who was working security Sunday at the Orlando City soccer match was attacked, beaten and choked while trying to break up a fight between fans, police said.
Orlando City beat New York City FC 1-0 in the first match ever played at Orlando's new soccer-only stadium.
Police said Monday that Felix Vazquez, 27, and Katerine Sopilidis, 24, both of whom live in the Bronx, New York, were arrested in connection with the incident.
Luciano Migliore, 19, also from New York, is charged with affray and resisting an officer without violence.
"I heard a fight between two people," a witness said. "One was a NY fan, the other was an Orlando fan, and then the cops came to break up the fight and they started attacking the cops. They got clothes-lined, and he got slammed to the floor. It just became chaos, the cops had to arrest some people."
Vazquez faces charges of resisting with violence, aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer, resisting without violence and disorderly conduct. Sopilidis faces charges of affray and resisting arrest without violence.
Sopilidis told News 6 that she and her boyfriend, Vazquez, were not the aggressors. Sopilidis said her boyfriend did not touch the deputy. She didn't want to comment further until she hired an attorney, she said.
Several witnesses told News 6 that a New York fan got into an argument after the game with an Orlando City fan on Church Street, about a block from the stadium.
A witness said a security officer, identified as Orange County sheriff's Deputy Gustavo Marinoni, tried to stop the fight, but he was attacked. Orlando police Lt. Robert Bear said several people got involved in the fight struck and choked Marinoni.
Investigators wrote in Vazquez's charging affidavit that Vazquez was "actively choking" Marinoni and "one of his arms was fully wrapped around Deputy Marinoni's neck and he was actively pulling Deputy Marinoni backwards."
"His actions caused the crowd to become more hostile towards law enforcement, including those chanting slurs towards law enforcement," wrote investigators.
Orlando police said Marinoni used his radio to call for help, and about 50 officers responded.
One responding deputy wrote in a report that his Taser battery and flashpoint both fell to the ground and broke during the altercation.
"I was just hoping the officer was going to be OK and they could contain the situation," a witness said. "Then they started attacking the cops. They got clotheslined. He got slammed on the floor, and then it just became chaos."
Marinoni suffered a leg injury and was taken to a hospital. He was later released and is recovering at home, officials said.
Marinoni is assigned to the Orange County Sheriff's Office K-9 unit and has been employed by the agency since 2002.
The Orlando Fire Department said three people were treated after they were pepper-sprayed at the scene.
Sopilidis said she is retaining a lawyer.
Vazquez had his first court appearance Monday morning. An Orange County judge set his bond at $20,000 and Vazquez asked for a public defender.
"The reason the bond is so high is because of the nature of offenses and you not being from the Orange County area," the judge told Vazquez. "I did find probable cause for resisting an officer without violence and aggravated battery on a law enforcement."
Meanwhile, photos posted on social media show a New York fan being arrested while carrying what appears to be a purple seat from inside the stadium.
Orlando City officials said Monday that the organization plans to press charges against all those who were arrested.
"As a club, we do not condone any violent acts and will work with all parties involved to continue implementing the safety protocols set in place with city officials and law enforcement for all future events," a statement released Monday by the team read.
"It is unfortunate that the acts of a few have distracted (attendees) from fully enjoying last night's historic Opening Day for the new stadium."
"The safety of our residents and visitors is a top priority for the city and we take careful consideration of this when planning for special events," city of Orlando press secretary Cassandra Anne Lafser said. "We are pleased those plans were executed appropriately and this one incident was contained. We will continue to evaluate and make any adjustments as needed for future events."