Two charged for murder attempt in Duquesne attack

Updated: September 20, 2006, 6:30 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

PITTSBURGH -- A second man charged in a shooting that wounded five Duquesne University basketball players turned himself in Wednesday, police said.

William Holmes, 18, of the Pittsburgh suburb of Penn Hills, was to be arraigned later Wednesday on charges of attempted homicide, aggravated assault, criminal conspiracy and weapons-related offenses.

Holmes is the third person arrested in Sunday's shooting after a dance at the private, Roman Catholic university. Two of the wounded players remained hospitalized, with one critically injured.

The other man charged in the shooting, Brandon Baynes was arraigned on five counts of criminal attempt at homicide on Tuesday. Prosecutors also filed charges of aggravated assault, criminal conspiracy and weapons counts against Baynes, 19, who was still in custody after being arrested Tuesday.

Holmes and Baynes are not Duquesne students.

Attorney Giuseppe G.C. Rosselli, whose firm represents Holmes, said the shooting was "just a bad situation every way around."

"When it's all said and done, our client will be found not guilty," he said.

The team was encouraged that junior forward Sam Ashaolu, the most severely injured player, appeared to be gaining strength.

Ashaolu, 23, remained in critical condition with one bullet and fragments of another in his head. He has squeezed teammates' hands during their frequent hospital visits, and he seemed to respond to their words of encouragement.

Stuard Baldonado, a junior forward shot in the back and left arm, had a bullet removed from a patch of muscle in his back. He could be released within days.

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 $2,000 bond Tuesday morning, leaving the Allegheny County Jail out of the view of TV cameras.

On Wednesday, Duquesne announced she had been suspended for multiple violations of the student code.

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 Tuesday. His father said the teen was not guilty.

"My son never fired a gun in his life," A.J. Baynes said.

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 to be involved in the shooting.

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 if 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.

It wasn't immediately clear whether Baynes and Holmes were part of the group. Police Cmdr. Thomas Stangrecki did not take questions at a news conference announcing the charges against the men.

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.

According to the Tribune-Review, one of the men was her boyfriend, but ESPN was told by police that is not the case.

Investigators said that at the dance Jones hugged and flirted with several members of the basketball team, angering one of her male friends. The two argued, and the basketball players left the dance.

A short time later outside Vickroy Hall dormitory, the man with whom Jones had argued and another man allegedly pulled guns and fired approximately 12 shots at the players, police 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. Investigators told the Tribune-Review that they will speak with the Allegheny County District Attorney's Office about dropping the charges against Jones if she continues to cooperate.

"I can say she's spent a lot of time with police in the last couple of days, Sunday and Monday," Ecker told the AP. "Until this case goes to a hearing or trial, she's presumed innocent," he said.

Jones, whose mother is a volunteer campus drug and alcohol counselor, decided to cooperate with officials only after she was charged, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Police tried to arrest Jones at one of her classes Monday morning, but she had already left. They returned in the afternoon, but she did not attend her scheduled class. After receiving a tip, police tracked her down and arrested her at an undisclosed location.

Two other men are in police custody, but are thought to be witnesses to the shooting, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Tuesday.

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."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this story.

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