PITTSBURGH (AP) – Police charged two men Tuesday with shooting five Duquesne University basketball players after a school dance, and they accused a 19-year-old sophomore of helping get the men and their friends into the dance despite knowing some were armed.
Brandon Baynes, 18, was arraigned on five counts of criminal attempt at homicide. Prosecutors also filed charges of aggravated assault, criminal conspiracy and weapons counts against him and William Holmes, 18. A reckless endangerment charge was also filed against Holmes, who is still being sought.
Three players remained hospitalized following Sunday’s shootings after the dance. The most seriously wounded, junior forward Sam Ashaolu, 23, was in critical condition with bullet fragments in his head.
Brittany Jones, accused of helping get some young men with guns into the party, was arrested Monday on charges of reckless endangerment, carrying a firearm without a license and criminal conspiracy. She was arraigned and posted bond Tuesday morning.
According to the criminal complaint, Jones – who is active with the Black Student Union, which sponsored the dance – got a call from a man asking whether he and his brother could attend. They arrived with four others, including Baynes and Holmes, about midnight, according to police.
While walking to the party, Jones told police, she became aware that several of the men had guns, authorities said.
They asked Jones whether they were going to be “patted down” before entering, officials said. The doorman reportedly told Jones partygoers weren’t being searched, and the men went into the dance, police said.
According to the criminal complaint against Baynes, a witness at the dance reported hearing an argument and saw two men firing guns at the victims. Using driver’s license photos, the witness identified one man as Baynes.
Baynes did not speak during the brief court hearing. His father said the teen was not guilty.
“My son never fired a gun in his life,” A.J. Baynes said. He said his son knew Holmes, but he would not discuss what his son told him about the shooting.
Sumner Parker, an attorney representing Baynes, denied his client was the gunman but said Baynes had identified the shooter in a statement to police. Parker said Baynes had gone to the dance with three friends, none of them part of the group believed involved in the shooting.
In interviews Monday with The Associated Press, several players said the shooter was a non-student unhappy that the woman he accompanied to the dance had talked with a player. The shooter and at least one other man followed the players when they left the dance to walk to their dormitory, they said.
Jones’ attorney, James Ecker, would not confirm Tuesday whether she was cooperating with authorities and would not comment on reports that authorities may drop charges if she provides information to the police.
“I can say she’s spent a lot of time with police in the last couple of days, Sunday and Monday,” Ecker said.
“Until this case goes to a hearing or trial, she’s presumed innocent,” he said.
University president Charles Dougherty said he was grateful to police for the “swift arrest of the individual who may have been the shooter in the vicious attacks on Duquesne University students last Sunday morning.”
A university spokeswoman said the school was examining the allegations against Jones and would act in accordance with school policy.
Besides Ashaolu, the other injured players were junior guard Kojo Mensah, 21; 6-foot-7 forward Stuard Baldonado, 21; junior center Shawn James, 23; and Aaron Jackson, 20, a guard who is one of only two returning players from Duquesne’s 3-24 team last season.
Baldonado was in fair condition Tuesday with arm and back injuries; he likely won’t play this season because his back injury will require two to three months of rehabilitation. He was expected to be released from the hospital by the end of the week.
Mensah, shot in an arm and shoulder, was kept at a hospital to receive additional injections of antibiotics but was expected to be discharged later Tuesday.
In an interview with The Associated Press on Monday, Jackson said he and teammate Stephen Wood dropped to the ground when shots rang out. Mensah, Baldonado and Ashaolu were the first players hit in the attack. James was wounded on the foot but escaped by running across the football field.