PLYMOUTH (AP/WWJ) – A fundraiser is planned for the family of a Detroit-area referee who died after being punched by a player during a recreational soccer game this summer.
The event honoring John Bieniewicz is Saturday at Compuware Arena in Plymouth, where the Plymouth Whalers play the Windsor Spitfires in exhibition hockey. Ticket sales also benefit an organization that helps families of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.
Kris Bieniewicz, 45, told the Detroit Free Press that the support her family has received since her husband’s death shows there’s “more good than bad in the world.”
After his father’s death, 14-year-old Kyle Bieniewicz began wearing his father’s running shoes. His 9-year-old brother, Josh, started wearing his father’s sunglasses. The boys and their mother also have been wearing bracelets honoring John Bieniewicz.
“I want the kids to remember him and be proud of him as much as he was proud of them,” Kris Bieniewicz said.
She said she tries to remain strong to show her sons “we’re not going to let the evilness that took place beat us. … We’re going to persevere through it.”
The Bieniewicz family will be introduced at Saturday’s game, and there will be a moment of silence and a ceremonial puck drop.
Bassel Saad, a 36-year-old auto mechanic from Dearborn, is charged with second-degree murder in John Bieniewicz’s death.
The attack on Bieniewicz came during the second half of an over-30 Michigan United Soccer League game on June 29 at Miles park in Livonia. Bieniewicz reached into his pocket and was in the process of pulling out a red card when he was punched, according to witnesses and police, who said Saad fled while Bieniewicz was being tended to.
Bieniewicz died two days later. Cause of death was “blunt impact to left side of his neck” the Medical Examiner said.
Defense attorney Ali Hammoud has argued that second degree murder is an over-charge, and his client should be charged with involuntary manslaughter.
He said Saad became emotional in a competitive game.
“He’s very sorry for his actions,” Hammoud said. “He never thought in a million years that he would kill anyone.”
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