Three men have now been arrested following the fatal stabbing of a 23-year-old non-league footballer on a Birmingham nightclub dance floor on Boxing day night. Cody Fisher, who initially played youth football for League Two side Walsall, but was currently with Southern League Premier Division Central outfit Stratford Town, was attacked shortly before midnight at The Crane, which is a popular venue in the Digbeth area of the city.
Two of those held are from London with the other from the West Midlands. Four others have also been detained having been picked up over the past 24 hours on suspicion of assisting an offender, or offenders.
Victim approached by several men on dance floor
It is believed that Mr Fisher was approached by a group of men on the dance floor and after an altercation he received a fatal stab wound. Despite frantic efforts to save him, sadly he was pronounced dead approximately 30 minutes later. Detective Chief Inspector Ian Ingram, from West Midlands Police confirmed that seven individuals were in custody, as his force continued to “build a picture of events” that had led to the murder.
Police appeal for more witnesses to come forward
There were hundreds of people in the club at the time and the police urged everyone who was there to get in touch as they may have vital footage captured on phones that may be very useful to the investigation. “We are determined to get answers and justice for Cody’s friends and family, and will not stop until that happens” said Inspector Ingram. He continued to inform the media that Mr Fisher’s devastated family were being kept updated with all the developments as soon as they happened and that they were receiving specialist support at “this awful time.”
He added: “While we have spoken to a number of witnesses already, we still need to hear from anyone who was there and who may have witnessed, and possibly even filmed what happened, or even if they did not see the incident may unwittingly have images on their devices which will assist with the enquiry.”
He appealed for anyone with information to “do the right thing” and come forward and speak to the police. A dedicated website has been set up where people can upload images and footage from that dreadful night’s events, or the period just before the tragic incident occurred.
Probable murder weapon found
A post-mortem test confirmed Mr Fisher, who played left full-back for other non-league clubs including Bromsgrove Sporting and Stourbridge, died of a stab wound and West Midlands Police also announced that a knife had been found.
Two of the three held on suspicion of murder are aged 22, whilst the third is 21 and they continue to be questioned. The staff at the club were said to be “deeply shocked and saddened” and said their thoughts were with the victims family and friends, and confirmed that they were working closely with investigators.
Short family statement
His family were naturally distraught saying in a brief statement that they have had their hearts broken and lost their “best friend”.
Tragic loss of a “talented” school sports coach
Mr Fisher also worked as a school sports coach at Woodrow First School, in Redditch, Worcestershire, where in a tweet posted soon after receiving the shocking news the school said that everyone had been left devastated over the tragic and needless death of such a: “bright, friendly and talented young man.”
Tributes pour in from former clubs
Walsall Football Club, where Mr Fisher had been part of the youth set up as a teenager, held a minutes silence before a training session on Wednesday 28 December; whilst Steve Beech, who worked at Stourbridge when Mr Fisher signed for the club, said the non-league world in the West Midlands was “one big family” meaning that he and others all across the region had been left utterly “devastated” at the shocking news.
One of his previous clubs, Bromsgrove Sporting are due to host Stratford Town – who he had been playing for over the past few seasons – on 2 January, and the Bromsgrove chairman Mike Burke said it would be an opportunity to “show our love and respect to him on that day.” He added: “There is nothing we can say that can make the family feel any better, but we can just send our thoughts out to them at this really sad time.”
Stratford Town who Mr Fisher made 54 appearance for, paid their own tribute through its website sending their “sincere condolences” to his family and friends.
Championship club Birmingham City FC, for whose academy Mr Fisher had been part of during his childhood years, tweeted that their thoughts were with Cody’s family and friends at what they called an “extremely difficult time”.
Other clubbers tell of “weird atmosphere” and shocking security
There appears to have been trouble in the air at the club on the night and several attendees at the Boxing Day event described a disturbing atmosphere in the place for much of the evening, leading up to the tragic incident.
Sydnee Power a 23-year-old local said that there was a “group of lads” who were seemingly “looking to cause trouble” and added that: “as soon as me and my friends walked in, we got a very weird vibe and the atmosphere just was not good.”
Another who had travelled the short distance from Wolverhampton said the event was a “disaster waiting to happen”. Describing the security procedure upon entering the venue the individual said: “Not once did we get asked to clear our pockets out, even though mine were full and I had cargo trousers on”.
They continued: “After we got in we both agreed that it was worst search ever; anyone could have brought anything in”, and tragically that seems to have certainly been the case as an individual appears to have been allowed in with a knife which has been used to take an innocent man’s life.
Nightclub’s license to be reviewed
Crane nightclub opened five years ago as a multi-purpose space and had become a “go to” spot in the region. It has a 12,000 square-foot ground floor, in a building that was formerly an industrial facility.
Following the incident the West Midlands police requested a review of the club’s license and said they would be seeking “immediate measures” be put in place at a Birmingham City Council hearing set to take place at 10:00 am on Friday 30 December.
They announced that in their application the force were calling for the re-evaluation of the licensing due to the seriousness of the crime committed and the “serious management failings of the premises concerned.”
New Year’s Eve event cancelled
An event that had been planned to take place on 31 December has already been cancelled by the venue. In a statement on The Crane website there is a notice which reads: “We do not feel it is right to hold the New Year’s Eve event under these circumstances.”