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Man who brought tortillas to Coronado High game speaks out

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Posted at 1:23 PM, Jun 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-24 16:23:12-04

CORONADO, Calif. (KGTV) — The man who brought tortillas to a basketball game between Coronado High and Orange Glen High, that ended up being thrown at players on the losing team, is telling his side of the story.

The tortillas were thrown at players from Orange Glen, a predominantly Hispanic school, after they lost to Coronado High, sparking outrage.

Luke Serna declined to do a formal interview, with ABC 10News, but said he brought the tortillas to the game. Through text messages, he said he graduated from Coronado High in 1999 and went to UC Santa Barbara, where tortilla tossing is a tradition.

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"Yes, I handed out the tortillas myself before the game. I indicated that they were strictly for use if the team won. I never said anything about flinging them at the other team to either the bench players or the cheerleaders," a text from Serna read.

Tuesday, the Coronado Unified School District Board voted 5-0 to fire Coronado's head basketball coach JD Laaperi following the heated incident.

In a lengthier Q&A session with The Coronado Times, Serna, who says he's half Mexican, added that Laaperi knew he brought the tortillas and the two knew each other at Santa Barbara.

"He knew as well as me that its intent was to be celebratory," Serna said.

However, Laaperi wrote on Twitter the night of the incident: "Unfortunately a community member brought tortillas and distributed them which was unacceptable and racist in nature. I do not condone this behavior."

Still, Serna said that he believes coach Laaperi was unfairly fired.

"My concern right now is with Coronado administration's and school board who colluded together to make JD the scapegoat, so they wouldn't have to truly investigate and learn about what really happened at the end of this game. JD deserves to have his coaching job back!!!" Serna wrote.

ABC 10News reached out to the district's superintendent for a response to Serna's claims but were told they can't comment on confidential, personnel matters.

Watch video of the school board meeting's public comments in the player below: