Church Hill coach accused of assault after melee at youth league basketball game

Rain Smith • Feb 5, 2010 at 12:00 AM

CHURCH HILL — The coach of a youth league recreation team in Church Hill has been arrested after allegedly attacking the opponent’s coach during a Thursday night game and slamming his head into a concrete wall.

Church Hill police report Stewart Warren Johnson, 33, of 154 Sturbridge Lane, turned himself in Thursday night. Police said he originally fled the Church Hill Elementary School gym during a youth basketball game after someone in the crowd called police.

Johnson, the coach of a 7- through 9-year-old basketball team, became embroiled in an argument with referees and was ejected from the game. According to witnesses, as Johnson was leaving the floor he passed the opponent’s bench and had words with their assistant coach, Ernie Long. 43.

Johnson — listed by police as being 6 feet 2 and 240 pounds — allegedly grabbed Long by the throat and slammed his head into the corner of a concrete wall. Police said Long suffered minor injuries to his head that are believed to have required stitches.

A referee attempting to separate the two also suffered minor injuries before fans broke up the melee, police said.

Johnson was charged with aggravated assault, a felony, and disorderly conduct. He was booked into the Hawkins County Jail and has since posted a $2,000 bond.

A report from the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office lists Johnson as self-employed at Church Hill’s Domino’s Pizza.

Teresa Salyer, co-director of the Church Hill/Mount Carmel recreation leagues, said Stewart is banned from future participation in any sports.

“It’s a very unfortunate incident that it happened,” Salyer said. “I really hate it for the kids. But we’re going to move forward now. What we’re doing is totally for the kids.”

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