Despite reports that investigators may have the wrong suspect, Toronto police say they are “confident” they have correctly identified the fan who threw a beer can at a Baltimore Orioles outfielder during the Toronto Blue Jays American League wild-card game Tuesday.
“We will not confirm any reports. However, we are confident we have made a positive ID and will continue to work with the Rogers Centre to further the investigation,” Const. Jenifferjit Sidhu said Thursday, adding that police are expected to provide an update later in the day.
“Police have been working hand-in-hand with the Rogers Centre and they’ve received information, which is the photograph that has been released late last night, and working together we’ve identified the person that we’re looking for.”
With the score tied 2-2 in the seventh inning of the AL wild-card game, Jays pinch hitter Melvin Upton Jr. flied out to deep left field.
But as Baltimore Orioles left fielder Hyun Soo Kim made the catch, he narrowly avoided being struck in the head by a beer can.
Global News confirmed through a senior executive at Postmedia late Wednesday that the suspect in the investigation is Ken Pagan, a sports copy editor at the media company’s head office in Hamilton.
The Toronto Sun, which is also owned by Postmedia, issued a $1,000 reward to anyone able to identify the man who police allege threw the can at Kim.
Pagan told the Sun police may have the incident wrong, but declined to speak directly to the allegation on the advice of his lawyer. He added there were Twitter photos showing a cup in his hand after the can was thrown.
Pagan also said he had spoken with police and had made arrangements to turn himself in, according to the newspaper.
“I’d love to tell you what happened and my story … but I can’t say anything,” he said.
Sidhu said she could not speak directly to the questions regarding whether the release of Pagan’s photo by police had incited a witch hunt on social media, but added it was standard police procedure.
“With anything that happens throughout the city, it’s very common for us to release photograph stills of the people that we’re looking for and seeking the public’s assistance for that person to turn themselves in — or for someone to identify them so that police can further investigate,” she said.
“An offence had taken place and just like any other investigation we always work in cooperation with the organization. We were able to pinpoint who we’re looking for, we know what happened and we’re appealing to the public for their assistance in helping us with this investigation.”
After the can was thrown, Orioles centre fielder Adam Jones could be seen angrily gesturing towards the crowd and manager Buck Showalter came out of the dugout to speak with umpires.
Details of the incident also grew uglier after Jones said he was taunted with racial slurs.
Jays and baseball fans alike took to social media to quickly condemn the beer tossing and called for the person to be banned from the Rogers Centre.