Wounded Duquesne basketball player sues school

Updated: April 26, 2007, 6:47 PM ET
Associated Press

PITTSBURGH -- One of five Duquesne University basketball players shot on campus last year has sued the school, alleging it failed to provide adequate security at a dance.

The lawsuit, filed late Wednesday in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court, says university officials did not take action once they knew of potential criminal activity. A doorman let two armed men into the dance even after their friend asked if the men would be frisked, according to the lawsuit.

"Rather than alerting the campus police who were present inside the ballroom about [the frisking inquiry] or taking other similar reasonable steps, the doorman simply responded that they would not be frisked" and allowed the men to enter, the lawsuit states.

The player who filed suit, Stuard Baldonado, was one of five shot early Sept. 17 as they walked back from the dance. Also wounded were Aaron Jackson, Shawn James, Kojo Mensah and Sam Ashaolu, who was shot twice in the head.

Baldonado, a junior transfer from Miami-Dade Community College in Florida, was shot in the arm. The bullet, according to the lawsuit, hit an artery and then continued through his chest, missing his spine by a centimeter.

Two alleged gunmen and two women who allegedly helped facilitate the shooting are awaiting trial. Each has pleaded not guilty.

The school will not discuss the lawsuit but is committed to its students' safety, spokeswoman Bridget Fare said.

"The university has a long-standing, proven record of providing a safe living and learning environment," Fare said. The shooting, she said, "was a totally unprecedented event for Duquesne."

Baldonado remains a scholarship player and works out with his teammates, after taking a medical redshirt last season because of his injuries, said Teresa Toriseva, his attorney.

The bullet damaged Baldonado's elbow and back "preventing him from doing the full range of things he did as a basketball player," Toriseva said. "That was really the motivating factor for moving forward with the lawsuit, the dramatic impact these injuries are going to have on the rest of his life."

Baldonado and Ashaolu, a 6-foot-7 junior forward from Toronto, missed the season because of the shootings. It remains uncertain if either will play again, though both were cleared to work out with the team.

James, a 6-10 center, and Kojo Mensah, a 6-1 guard, also missed considerable practice time because of their wounds but were ineligible to play this season after transferring from other Division I schools. Jackson, who was grazed by one of the bullets, was the only one of the five who played last season.

Baldonado is not seeking specific damages from the university. None of the suspects was named as a defendant.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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