scorecardresearch Skip to main content

Initial autopsy results identify medical issue in death of Patriots fan at Gillette, did not suggest ‘traumatic injury’

Dale Mooney, a New England Patriots fan who died Sunday.GoFundMe

Preliminary autopsy results in the death of a New England Patriots fan who collapsed after a fight with a Miami Dolphins fan at Gillette Stadium on Sunday night identified a “medical issue” and suggest that he did not die from “traumatic injury,” Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey said.

An autopsy on Dale Mooney, 53, identified a “medical issue” as a potential contributor to his death, although the precise cause will require further testing, Morrissey said in a statement Wednesday. The preliminary results did not indicate that the blows delivered by a man wearing a Dolphins jersey during a fight in the stands were the cause of Mooney’s fatal injuries, Morrissey said.


“Our investigation has included numerous law enforcement interviews and the examination of multiple angles of video capturing the scuffle prior to Mr. Mooney’s collapse during the Sunday night game at Gillette Stadium,” he said. “Preliminary autopsy results did not suggest traumatic injury, but did identify a medical issue. Cause and manner of death remain undetermined pending further testing.”

No charges have been filed in Mooney’s death. The criminal investigation is continuing.

“Any eyewitness who has not already been interviewed by police, or anyone in possession of original video of the incident, is asked to contact” detectives in his office, Morrissey said.

Mooney’s family could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

The fight broke out in the upper deck at Gillette Stadium during the fourth quarter of the nationally televised game.

“We are heartbroken to learn of the tragic passing of Dale Mooney, a lifelong Patriots fan and 30-year season ticket member, who died while attending last Sunday night’s Patriots game,” stadium officials said in a statement Tuesday. “We continue to work with local authorities to assist them with their ongoing investigation. We extend our sincerest sympathies and heartfelt condolences to Dale’s family and to all those who are mourning his loss.”


Mooney was also an avid dart player, according to posts on the Seacoast Dart Association’s Facebook page.

“We should have a moment of silence/raise a toast this Wednesday at darts for Dale Mooney,” member Don Cochrane wrote. “His tragic/brutal death at Foxboro on Sunday is such a sad event. He was a good friend and a great competitor on the toe line. Dale my brother, you will be sorely missed and never forgotten.”

Another man, Dan Leduc, recalled that Mooney had introduced him to darts.

“He was one of my first introductions to the dart community,” Leduc wrote Tuesday on the association’s page. “Down at good ol’ legends. His booming voice and laugh will always be remembered.”

Criminal defense attorneys said Wednesday that the preliminary findings do not eliminate the possibility the medical examiner could declare Mooney’s death a homicide. That determination is legally required before a manslaughter or murder charge can be brought.

Speaking in general terms and not about Mooney specifically, lawyers said that prosecutors must establish a direct link between the person who delivers a punch and its medical impact on the victim.

“There has to be causation,’’ said Steven J. Sack, a veteran Boston criminal defense attorney. “Let’s assume for a minute a victim had a preexisting condition. … If the guy had a heart attack while he was in a fight, that may not be a homicide, it may be an assault and battery. It may not be a homicide because what the suspect did, it didn’t lead to the death.”


Stephen J. Weymouth, a longtime Boston defense attorney, said that regardless of the medical examiner’s final determination, prosecutors could file assault charges in connection to the fight.

“That’s a possibility for sure,” Weymouth said.

A spokesman for Morrissey, David Traub, said Wednesday that law enforcement “has spoken with some of the people in that group” of Dolphin fans. He declined to say if they included a Dolphin fan wearing a Tyreek Hill jersey who is seen in videos of the fight being led away by stadium security.

“I am not going to comment on specific individuals at this time,” he said.

Mooney, a married father of two from Newmarket, N.H., had verbally sparred with a Dolphin fan throughout the first three-quarters of the game, according to witnesses. During the fourth quarter, Mooney moved from his seat in Section 310 and directly confronted the Dolphins fan in Section 311, according to Joey Kilmartin, a witness.

The verbal exchanges turned violent, and as people tried to separate the two men, the Dolphins fan was captured on cellphone video delivering at least one blow in Mooney’s direction. The Dolphins fan was later escorted out of the stadium by security, according to witnesses.

Mooney collapsed to the ground and emergency responders provided first aid inside the stadium, at one point using a defibrillator, witnesses said. He was rushed to Sturdy Memorial Hospital in Attleboro where he was pronounced dead.


A GoFundMe site created by a relative described Mooney as a “loving soul.”

“Dale Mooney was a loving soul who cared so much for those he loved, especially his wife Lisa which he was married to for 20+ years. Dale was a proud father to Aaron and Brandon, constantly laughing and creating moments with them throughout their lives,” the relative wrote.

The site had raised more than $21,000 of its $25,000 goal as of Wednesday evening.

Dolphins running back Salvon Ahmed urged fans to donate to the GoFundMe campaign set up for Mooney’s family.

“This is the link for the GoFundMe,” Ahmed wrote on X, the site formally known as Twitter. “Stuff like this should never happen, especially at a football game that we all love.”

Travis Andersen of the Globe Staff contributed to this report.

John R. Ellement can be reached at Follow him @JREbosglobe.