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Three football players face gun charges

Three football players were arrested Sunday after police said they fired several shots from a handgun on East Campus.

Freshmen John Drew, Kyle Griswould and Brandon Putnam were charged with felonious possession and discharge of a weapon on educational property. All three have been dismissed from the team and are barred from campus until the charges are resolved.

The three were held in jail Sunday, each on $40,000 secured bond, said Chief John Dailey of the Duke University Police Department. According to jail records, the three have since been released.

A fourth suspect, who is not a student, is still under investigation and police have not released his name.

Officers responding to a fire alarm in Aycock Residence Hall at around 3 a.m. Sunday heard shots fired from a car near Jarvis Residence Hall. Dailey said the alarm was unrelated to the gunfire.

Police located the vehicle near Blackwell Residence Hall and traced it to one of the charged players. After further investigation, officers also believe the suspects discharged the weapon on Campus Drive, according to a Duke news release.

Dailey said he does not know how many shots were fired, but thinks the suspects were firing the weapon—a semi-automatic handgun—into the air.

“Clearly anyone who fires a weapon on campus is dangerous, at least at that time,” Dailey said. “We charged them with a pretty serious crime.”

Although Dailey said the suspects’ motives remain unclear, he said the incident does not pose a continuing threat to campus.

Head football coach David Cutcliffe released a statement Sunday about the incident.

“These types of offenses are going to be associated with dismissal from our team,” Cutcliffe said. “While these three young men did not meet the expectations of those in our program, our prayers are with them and their families during this difficult time.”

Drew, a 315-pound defensive tackle, played in all 12 games his freshman season and recorded 34 tackles. He was projected to start during the 2010 season.

Griswould, a running back, and Putnam, a defensive end, did not see playing time last Fall.

The three could face 13 to 16 months in prison if convicted, Dailey said.

For now, the investigation into the incident is ongoing.

DUPD is collaborating with multiple law enforcement agencies to investigate where the weapon came from, Dailey said. More charges could be filed as the investigation proceeds, but Dailey said he does not anticipate charges being filed against any additional students.

Dailey said DUPD is still investigating whether alcohol or drugs were involved in the incident. None of the students have been charged with substance violations.

The campus did not receive a DukeAlert notification following the incident.

“We felt like there was no ongoing threat and that we had the situation under control,” Dailey said. “Our officers did a really good job and were able to locate the car very quickly and then identify the suspects.”

Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta said Monday that he does not plan to send an e-mail about the incident, citing the quick apprehension of the suspects. Although he said the three freshmen behaved in an “extraordinarily stupid and extraordinarily dangerous manner,” he said other students were not endangered.

“I limit the broadcast e-mails to situations where students need to know things for their own safety,” Moneta said. “I am confident you will provide the reporting students need to know.”

But several Aycock residents said they would have appreciated information from the University about what happened early Sunday morning.

A fire alarm in Aycock forced all 90 residents to evacuate to the East Campus Quadrangle. As students stood outside around 3 a.m., they heard gunshots and saw a DUPD officer with his weapon drawn, freshman Jordan Swearingen said. The students remained on the quad until resident assistants suggested they move to the Jarvis common room, he said.

“I feel like it took police way too long to respond and because of that I feel a little unsafe,” Swearingen said, noting that students remained on the quad for five to 10 minutes after police left to pursue the suspects. “You can’t prevent things like this, but I felt their response time was too slow considering the fact that there were [about 90] people standing outside.... I guess it was just the RAs around, but still.”

Aycock residents were not told what events surrounded the gunshots or what actions were being taken to control the situation, Swearingen said. Sunday’s events also took place on the first weekend of selective living group and greek recruitment, and several students estimated that more than half the students in the dorm were intoxicated when it was evacuated.

“It’s clearly concerning any time anyone fires a weapon on campus,” Dailey said. “Whether or not people are intoxicated or not, it’s just not safe. As it turned out at this site, everything seemed to work well.”

By Monday night, students had not received any official information about the events. Swearingen said he feels the University is not acknowledging how much potential danger the students were in.

“It’s our right to know that,” he said.


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