(WXYZ) - Witnesses called for help as a soccer referee was knocked to the ground by a player – a player who’s now in serious trouble because that referee has died.
The 7 Action News Investigators are taking a deeper look at the suspect accused of throwing that deadly punch.
That soccer player is now being held in the Wayne County Jail.
The spectators and players at a men’s over-30 soccer league game in Livonia were horrified on Sunday when one of the players punched their referee.
Police say that blow to the face killed 44–year-old John Bieniewicz, leaving his 9 and 13-year-old sons without a father.
Now 36-year-old Bassel Abdul-Amir Saad is charged with Assault with Intent to Do Great Bodily Harm.
“Guy had a foul on him, didn’t like it, started talking to the ref, John pulled the card, next thing you know, just hit him in the face – never seen it coming,” said Joe Cosenza, who was playing in the game Sunday.
Witnesses say after the assault, Saad and a friend tried to flee.
Saad does not have a violent criminal record, but the 7 Investigators have learned he has a very lengthy driving record, including tickets and 30 different suspensions of his driver’s license.
Neighbors on his Dearborn street say Saad has children, and his lawyer tells us he works as an auto repair mechanic. His attorney, Brian Berry, also said what happened on Sunday is being mischaracterized.
Saad could face even more serious charges now that Bieniewicz has been taken off life support. Bieniewicz lived in Westland with his wife and sons and worked as a dialysis technician for Mott Children’s Hospital.
“It’s a very rare and very unfortunate incident, pray to God it never happens again,” said soccer expert Roger Faulkner. Faulkner was Chairman of the Detroit World Cup in 1994, and he now works with the U. S. Soccer Foundation.
“You shouldn’t ever swing at a referee – you’re banned from the game,” Faulkner told 7 Investigator Heather Catallo. “We don’t allow it, we don’t approve it. And it’s awful that this would happen with this consequence.”
Faulkner says the close-knit soccer community will help the Bieniewicz family.
“This morning I contacted by email the president of the United States Soccer Federation, who’s naturally in Brazil with the team, and he emailed me back immediately saying we will make a donation, this is awful,” said Faulkner.
Faulkner says he also reached out to the U.S. Soccer Foundation which will be making a donation as well.
A fund has been established to help the family at Huntington Bank. Contributions can be made at the Livonia Police Department at 15050 Farmington Road in Livonia or at any Huntington Bank in Michigan. You can also make a donation on the family's GoFundMe page HERE .
Currently, people have donated more than $104,000 for the Bieniewicz family through their GoFundMe page.