Two University of Maine football players from New Jersey have been suspended from the team indefinitely and sanctioned by the university after allegedly shooting two other students with BB guns.
Freshman defensive backs Aamad Bush and Malik Walker, both 18, were charged with assault and criminal threatening for their involvement last week in an incident on the first floor of Somerset Hall on UMaine’s Orono campus.
Bush and Walker allegedly fired shots from BB guns at the room’s occupants after an unidentified third student, who was not charged, had knocked on the door and propped it open, according to UMaine Police Chief Roland LaCroix
“I guess one of the guys said, ‘all right, don’t do that again,’ and he [Bush] shot him again. Then a scuffle ensued,” LaCroix said.
During the subsequent fight between Bush and the first victim, Walker allegedly shot the room’s other occupant with a BB gun.
BBs are tiny, round, steel projectiles that are sometimes coated with zinc or copper to prevent corrosion. They are used in guns such as the famed Daisy “Red Rider” rifle of “A Christmas Story” fame.
Some BB guns utilize spring-loaded action, while some more modern models, including realistic-appearing handguns, use pressurized carbon dioxide canisters to propel the BBs. LaCroix said he did not know which variety was used in the alleged assault.
LaCroix said the incident was not reported until Jan. 18, at least a day after it occurred. He said the men all live in Somerset Hall.
While neither of the victims required hospitalization or medical treatment, such actions must be treated seriously, LaCroix said.
It probably started out with the alleged assailants, “thinking it was funny, thinking that it’s goofing around, horsing around, but the problem is, the university’s not going to tolerate that type of behavior,” said LaCroix, who described BB guns as very dangerous.
The students must comply with three areas of discipline, including sanctions by the UMaine administration through Dr. Robert Dana, vice president of student affairs and dean of students. Part of their punishment under the UMaine student code of conduct reportedly includes being removed from university housing for the rest of the semester.
UMaine athletic director Steve Abbott said for violating the school’s student-athlete code of conduct, Walker and Bush will be prohibited from practicing with the team during the winter workouts and spring practices. However, their scholarships will remain in effect through the end of the semester.
Abbott said head football coach Jack Cosgrove ultimately will determine whether the players can rejoin the team. To be eligible to do so, they must meet several requirements.
“We have put in place certain criteria that they have to meet in order to earn back their place on the team,” Abbott said. “There’s academic criteria and there’s social criteria that will be monitored regularly.”
If reinstated, both players would serve a one-game suspension for the opening game of the 2012 season.
Bush and Walker are scheduled to appear Feb. 16 in Bangor District Court. The assault and reckless conduct charges, which are Class D offenses, carry a maximum penalty of 364 days in jail and a $2,000 fine, according the Maine Attorney General’s Office.