SAN JOSE, Calif. _ Two feuding fraternities at San Jose State University faced off for a gang-style rumble in a park Wednesday that left one student stabbed to death on his 23rd birthday and four others seriously wounded.
The fight broke out just after midnight at Flickinger Park between about 70 members of the Pi Alpha Phi and Lambda Phi Epsilon fraternities, whose longstanding feud boiled over after a dispute last Monday night at a pool hall.
Police Sgt. Steve Dixon wouldn’t say who was armed or how many weapons were involved, but he linked the brawl to a fight between gangs whose members sport Greek letters instead of tattoos and bandanas.
Investigators cordoned off the Pi Alpha Phi house and spent the day interviewing more than 60 witnesses.
“We understand there were some incidents of egging, verbal taunts and some bad blood between them,” Dixon said.
Authorities identified the slain man as Alam Kim, a member of the Lambda fraternity and a computer science student from Los Altos who died from a single knife wound that pierced his heart.
Police named no suspects in his death and said those responsible were probably on the run.
Three others were stabbed and another was knocked unconscious, but all are recovering, including a 25-year-old man in serious condition at San Jose Medical Center with a stab wound to the back.
Police said the fraternity members got into an argument at a pool hall Monday night and decided to settle the dispute the next day at William Street Park, just south of campus.
“We had no indicators this kind of thing was in the works,” said San Jose state police chief Ric Abeyta.
Lucia Fagundes, 43, who lives in an apartment next door to the Pi Alpha Phi house, said she called police around 11:30 p.m.
Tuesday over a noisy fight, which broke up almost as soon as she picked up the phone.
Fraternity members from Pi Alpha Phi reportedly called brothers from their chapter at the University of California, Santa Cruz, for reinforcements, police said.
The students drove in packs to the park but saw police in the area and headed across town to Flickinger Park in northwest San Jose.
Officers arrived to find about 20 people still at the park and many others fleeing. The five people most seriously injured had already been taken to hospitals by their friends.
Kim died within an hour.
San Jose State University President Robert L. Caret said he was “greatly saddened by the tragic events.”
(Knight Ridder Newspapers correspondents Becky Bartindale, Ken McLaughlin and Cecelia Kang contributed to this report.)
© 2003, San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.).