Charlotte, NC - The Carolina Panthers and Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department are still trying to determine how four protesters got rappelling equipment and banner into Monday night's Carolina Panthers game.
During the second half of the game, two protesters began lowering themselves from an upper seating section. They continued to hang there with a banner while police evacuated fans from below. NFL officials decided not to delay the Panthers game against the Indianapolis Colts, which was being televised nationally on ESPN's Monday Night Football.
Two others were also arrested. All four were charged with trespassing and resisting arrest.
On Tuesday afternoon, Panthers spokesperson Ryan Anderson sent out the following statement regarding the ongoing investigation. He answered some of the frequently asked questions following the incident:
Can you tell us what happened? How do you think they got that stuff into the stadium?
Let me first of all say that we are cooperating with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department regarding the four suspects arrested as a result of the incident. We do know that the suspects entered the stadium legitimately and that they purchased tickets via the Ticket Exchange for the upper deck so we know that happened. We are conducting an inquiry as to how the rappelling equipment got in. We just don’t know at this point in time but we are trying to determine that. That is an ongoing inquiry internally. Everybody’s cooperating and we are also reaching out to fans that may have been inconvenienced to talk to them about their experience and so, that’s an ongoing effort.
Do you think they brought the rappelling equipment through security?
I just don’t have any idea at this point. We don’t know. We’re not that far into the inquiry.
Can you say what kind of equipment they did bring in?
At this point, I haven’t seen it. The police department seized it as evidence so they’ve got it as part of their charges.
What changes will you guys make coming up for future home games to make sure this doesn’t happen?
Well, we’re just going to reemphasize our training and execution of ingress procedures. You know, everybody is subject to search when they come to the stadium. So, we just redouble our efforts in that regard. Hopefully we didn’t have an incident that could’ve been discovered before. As you know, we have NFL security policy that dictates what we do stadium to stadium and that’s what we try to follow and do our best to execute it.
A question a lot of folks have had is will fans have to expect that even potentially longer lines getting into the game next week? Do you think there’s going to be additional searches?
I don’t know that they can expect longer lines. Since we are going to reemphasize the whole process, people are probably going to go the extra mile to make sure that we are looking as close as we can without inconveniencing the fan which is a delicate balance every time we do it so I wouldn’t say it’s going to have a negative effect. Everybody realizes what happened and so they don’t want a reoccurrence of that.
Are you able to list or say all the stuff they had in that isn’t supposed to be allowed in the stadium?
Well, the prohibited items list is on the website if you want to look at that and read that as a result of what came into the stadium and the police seized the equipment. I haven’t actually physically seen it. I’ll see it later.
Will fans that were moved get refunds?
We are in conversation with fans that were inconvenienced as a result of the incident.