Police have arrested a man who they say threw the first punch in a post-Winter Classic Rangers-Flyers brawl that left an Iraq war veteran from New Jersey battered outside Geno's Steaks in Philadelphia.
Police say 32-year-old Dennis Veteri surrendered to authorities shortly after a warrant was issued for his arrest Thursday. Authorities say he went to his attorney's office and was taken into custody there, reports NBC Philadelphia.
The South Jersey man was charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, conspiracy and recklessly endangering another person in connection with the Jan. 2 incident, prosecutors said.
Veteri was arraigned early Friday and released after posting $100,000 bail. He is next due in court on Jan. 31.
Authorities say Veteri is accused of starting the brawl between Flyers and Rangers fans about an hour after the two teams faced off in the NHL’s Winter Classic earlier this month.
That attack left Neal Auricchio, a 30-year-old off duty New Jersey cop and war veteran, unconscious and in need of stitches, police said.
The entire attack was caught on cell phone video.
In the video, a Flyers fan wearing a No. 28 Claude Giroux Flyers jersey is seen taking off his coat as he goads a fan, believed to be Auricchio, in a No. 24 Ryan Callahan Rangers jersey.
The Flyers fan swings at the Rangers fan and a melee ensues in the middle of the street between Geno's and Pat's Steaks.
Police say tips called in after they released an edited version of the video led authorities to the South Philadelphia Bar and Grill, where Veteri and friends were allegedly drinking on the day of the fight.
A search warrant uncovered a credit card receipt for a bill totaling more than $225 that was paid just before 7 p.m. on the night of the fight.
That credit card matched the name of Veteri, who allegedly threw the first punch at about 7:15 p.m., police sources said.
Earlier this week, three different people, including Auricchio and another Rangers fan hurt in the fight, identified Veteri from photo lineups, according to police sources.
Veteri has a prior arrest record including drugs, armed robbery and aggravated assault, sources said.
Police say they are still trying to track down other men involved in the fight.
Anyone with information about the fight should call South Detectives at 215-686-3013.