The marching band director for the Florida Gators, Dr. John ‘Jay’ Watkins, was attacked by a Miami Hurricane fan on August 24th, 2019 after the season opener. The Florida Gators of the University of Florida won their Saturday night game, toppling the Hurricanes with a 24-30 victory.
The attack happened outside of Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida. It is still not clear if Watkins has hired a lawyer against the assailants or against the administration for lack of security, or if he plans on filing for workers’ compensation benefits.
The Orlando Police Department has issued a comment stating that the band was about to march towards their buses from the stadium when a Miami Hurricanes fan tried to cut through. The woman, currently unidentified, attempted to push through many band members. When Watkins tried to halt her, another Miami Hurricane fan grabbed him “around the neck from behind and threw him to the ground, causing him to strike the back of his head on the pavement.”
Upon reaching the premises, the responding officer noticed Watkins “holding the back of his head.” He wrote in the report: “the other individuals informed me that a UM fan had attacked him from behind and thrown him to the ground.”
According to the incident report, fans were leaving the stadium at the same time as the Florida Gators marching band. The report stated, “the crowd was already unruly and the band was now adding to the delays.”
It went on to say that Watkins “saved multiple members from worse injuries by stepping in to stop these fans and in turn put himself in harm’s way.”
Only one other band member was injured, having suffered a blow to the nose. University of Florida officials have confirmed that Watkins was injured on Saturday night, requiring on-scene medical treatment from the Orlando Fire Department.
Watkins reportedly had a cut on the back of his head. The official treating him reported seeing “slight redness but no bleeding.” Another band member was also treated at the scene “for hyperventilation, brought on by seeing her band director battered.”
The Florida Gators and the Miami Hurricanes have been rivals for almost three decades. The game on August 24th sold out the entire stadium. It was the first game between the two teams in more than six years, which is why tensions were high. The season-opener was also their fifth-regular season in about 32 years.
Watkins did not press charges against the Miami fans who attacked him so far, although he did ask the responding officers to report the incident. The person who had injured him from behind remains unidentified.
Lt. Wanda Miglio, in the official statement, reported: “there was no description of the person who grabbed him.”
Cases such as these are known as a simple battery. There have been many incidents of battery in Florida within the past few years, including in Pembroke Pines and Margate. If you or anyone you know has been a victim of battery or attempted battery, you should hire a lawyer. Contact us today to take the first step towards the best possible legal outcome for you.