CALIFORNIA, Pa. (KDKA/AP) – Five football players from California University of Pennsylvania were arrested and suspended from the school after police say they beat and stomped a man outside an off-campus restaurant, then fled yelling “Football strong!”
The victim was in intensive care Friday with severe brain trauma.
Police said the Cal U players attacked Lewis Campbell, 30, of West Chester, as he was trying to stop an argument between his girlfriend and a player at about 2 a.m. Thursday.
Police said witnesses heard the players yelling “Football strong!” as they fled to a car and Campbell lay unconscious.
Phil DiLucente, the attorney for suspect Corey Ford, admits his client was with the alleged attackers, but he claims he has a witness who will testify that Ford was not involved in the attack.
“Maybe his friends participated, maybe they did not, but it was not at the direction of my client whatsoever,” said DiLucente. “My client’s a lover, not a fighter.”
The university declared later Thursday that its Division II football team would forfeit Saturday’s against Gannon University, jeopardizing its best season in three years.
“Behavior has consequences,” the university’s interim president, Geraldine Jones, said in a statement.
Officers said they arrested the players – Ford, Jonathan Barlow, D’Andre Dunkley, Rodney Gillin Jr. and James Williamson – at practice Thursday afternoon.
They are charged with aggravated assault, recklessly endangering another person, harassment and conspiracy to commit aggravated assault. They remained jailed Friday in lieu of $500,000 bond.
“Mr. Ford is on $500,000 as we sit here without touching anyone,” said DiLucente.
Jones added, “California University does not tolerate violent behavior, and the five student-athletes charged in connection with this incident will face University sanctions, along with any penalties imposed by law.”
The Cal U football team has won seven of eight games this season and this week reached No. 19 in D2Football.com, its highest ranking since 2012. The team has two games scheduled after Saturday’s forfeit. It is unclear if they will be played.
The team took swift action Thursday to scrub its website of the arrested players, removing their names from the roster and deleting their biography pages.
Ford, a 22-year-old senior from Harrisburg, and Gillin, a 20-year-old junior from Reading, were starters at defensive back, according to a cached version of the team’s website.
Barlow, a 21-year-old sophomore defensive lineman from Pittsburgh, and Dunkley, a 19-year-old tight end from Philadelphia, have seen limited action.
Williamson, 20, of Parkville, Maryland, transferred this year after two seasons at West Virginia Wesleyan.
Jones said they would face university sanctions for potential violations of the student code of conduct, in addition to any penalties imposed through the legal system.
At the same time, she said, “it must be clearly understood that the actions of a small group of individuals are not representative of our entire student body, nor of all Cal U student-athletes.”
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