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Police investigate attack on referee after church basketball game in Georgia


Police are investigating an assault on a referee after a Georgia church basketball game was caught on camera.

In a brief statement shared with NBC News, the DeKalb County Police Department said it responded to Stronghold Christian Church in Lithonia, about 20 miles east of Atlanta. The referee told officers “he was assaulted by multiple suspects after the basketball game.”

The incident is under investigation, police said. It is not known who was playing and it does not appear that the teams were affiliated with any registered school or league, NBC affiliate WXIA reported.

Video posted on social media appears to show the end of a basketball game – a player misses a shot and the buzzer sounds.

Seconds later, five people on the pitch can be seen in the video following the referee. They are quickly joined by others, and the group begins punching the referee, who appears to be trying to defend himself.

The group of about 10 people force the referee to the ground and kick and punch him, video appears to show. The video has not been independently verified by NBC News.

Benjamin Gaither, senior pastor of Stronghold Christian Church, called the violence “unfortunate”.

“We open our doors to serve our community and our goal is to provide an atmosphere conducive to enjoyment, enrichment, etc.,” Gaither said in a statement. “While we cannot control people, we hope and pray that those who enter our facility conduct themselves in the best manner.”