David Gerken Jr., the Miami Dolphins fan whose body was found in a creek the morning after the Bills-Dolphins game last Thursday, had been ejected from the stadium for “disorderly conduct,” Bills officials said Tuesday.
Gerken was one of 94 fans ejected from Ralph Wilson Stadium that night, the team said.
The Bills confirmed that Gerken was ejected – but not arrested – for what the team termed “disorderly conduct.” Bills officials would not answer any questions about whether he appeared intoxicated, or what he was accused of doing.
“Arrests and ejections are routine aspects of our game-day security procedures,” the team said in a statement. “While we do our best to control rowdy behavior, we are compelled to turn away some fans at the gate, eject some fans from the stadium for various offenses, and in extreme situations, arrest fans for criminal conduct.”
The ejection came at about 9:55 p.m., roughly at the end of the first half of the game, which kicked off at 8:29 p.m., team officials said.
Gerken’s body was found at about 7 a.m. the next morning, after family members reported him missing at about 12:30 a.m.
Disorderly conduct, the Bills said, includes various forms of misbehavior.
“We continue to review the circumstances surrounding this particular ejection,” the team stated. “Mr. Gerken was one of 94 fans ejected from that game. Our review of this incident is ongoing, and we continue to cooperate with law enforcement during its investigation.”
Law enforcement officials have not provided any indication of whether they believe Gerken was intoxicated.
The Bills also released information showing the total number of people arrested, ejected or turned away that night – 116 – was just slightly above the average for the team’s first four home games this season.
In addition to the 94 fans ejected from the Miami game, deputized security officers arrested 17 fans on stadium property, and staff members turned away another five at the entrance gate.
Besides the 116 fans removed from the premises that night, the other totals were 98 for the Kansas City game on Sept. 16, 125 for the New England game on Sept. 30 and 117 for the Tennessee game on Oct. 21.
For each game, the large majority of people removed from the premises were ejected. As part of their Fan Code of Conduct, the Bills routinely eject dozens of fans each game, for actions that may be disruptive or offensive to other fans but fall short of criminal behavior. The idea, in many cases, is to defuse situations before they get ugly.
Family members have said that after he left his brother and a friend to go to the men’s room, Gerken called his brother at about halftime to tell him he had been ejected. They then agreed to meet after the game at a bar just north of the stadium after the game. But Gerken never met them.
Instead, his body was found the next morning in a creek near the opposite end of stadium property, behind the fieldhouse, southeast of the stadium.
Family members still don’t know the circumstances that led Gerken to the remote spot where his body was found.
“No clue whatsoever,” his mother, Marion, said Tuesday of his whereabouts after he left the stadium. “That’s one of the big questions that has to be answered.”
While Gerken had attended previous Bills-Dolphins games, he didn’t know the area well, and he left the game well after dark.
“Why would he be [in that area]?” his mother asked. “We have no idea. It doesn’t seem like any place where the general public would go.”
Family members also don’t know whether Gerken ever went to Tailgaters, the bar where he was supposed to meet his brother and friend. Hundreds of people probably went into that tavern before, during and after the game, and the family doesn’t know whether he ever made it there.
They hope that some facility or group has security tapes that might clear up some of the mystery.
Marion Gerken was asked Tuesday morning whether she would blame anyone for her son’s death. She either didn’t have enough information, or didn’t think it was the right time to lay blame, just before her son’s afternoon wake and funeral Mass today.
“I have no comment,” she said. “He’s my 26-year-old, my first-born son. I’m trying to come to grips with what happened. I just need to get through today and tomorrow.”