Atwater man in comedy show fight dies

rparsons@mercedsunstar.comApril 10, 2014 

An Atwater man who was involved in a fight last month at a stand-up comedy show in Merced died earlier this week, but police said it remains unclear whether his death was the direct result of injuries suffered in the brawl.

Jack Kline, age unavailable, died Wednesday at a hospital in Modesto, the Merced County Coroner’s Office confirmed.

Efforts to reach the victim’s family were unsuccessful Thursday.

Merced police confirmed the man got into a fight with several others around 9 p.m. March 21 in the Merced Theatre on Main Street during a performance by comedian Ralphie May.

Capt. Tom Trindad said a scuffle broke out after one group accused another group of “making too much noise during the show.” Police said reports of an outlaw motorcycle gang’s involvement in the incident were unfounded.

Security guards and police broke up the incident and several people were removed from the theater, but it was unclear if any additional fighting occurred outside.

Many questions remain unanswered, including whether Kline had been hospitalized since the incident, or was released but later returned to the hospital.

Adam Miller, the theater’s managing director, said he was aware of the incident, but declined to comment because of the ongoing police investigation.

The case has not been ruled a homicide, though investigators have not ruled out that possibility, police said Thursday.

Trindad said detectives will not be able to determine whether the death was related to the altercation from March or the result of some independent cause until a final autopsy report is complete. It was unclear when that report will be finalized.

No arrests have been made and the identities of any potential suspects in the case have not been released.

A preliminary investigation report has been sent to the Merced County District Attorney’s Office for review, though police declined to say whether they have requested any criminal charges in the case.

Staff writer Rob Parsons can be reached at (209) 385-2482 or rparsons@mercedsunstar.com.

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