Thursday, September 07, 2006

Two Middle Tennessee State players arrested on Gun charges

A fall court date has been set for two MTSU football players arrested in July on charges of underage drinking and handgun possession. The Blue Raider offensive linemen Franklin Dunbar, Jr. and Darrell Howard will appear in General Sessions Court Oct. 2.

They were arrested July 23 after a fight broke out at Elk Lodge on Halls Hill Pike.The impending trial has not affected the morale of the team, according to head football coach Rick Stockstill."We disciplined them on the information that we have at this point," Stockstill said. "It's not something that we're taking lightly in any form or fashion."

Mark Owens, who handles media relations for MTSU football, said Dunbar and Howard's reprimand included running laps beginning at 6:00 a.m. As of now, they will be playing in today's game against Florida International. Stockstill doesn't think that the incident will have an "ill effect" on the team's ability to perform, and that they will be moving forward as planned for the 2006-2007 season.

As previously reported by Sidelines, a party at Elk Lodge started become disorderly around 1:40 a.m., and gunshots were fired. The arrest took place at 3:04 a.m. in the parking lot of Neely's market. Deputy W. Lehew, from Rutherford County Sheriff's Department, found a loaded .40-caliber handgun on the passenger side of the car Dunbar and Howard occupied.

According to the police report, Dunbar was also charged with disorderly conduct after not submitting to the officer's demands, and the report stated that a witness saw a black male walking to the trunk of a white compact car before the shooting occurred. Neither Dunbar nor Howard have been implicated in the shooting.

Four other, non-MTSU students were also arrested on gun possession during the incident, said Travis Smith, media director of Crime Stoppers.Howard told Sidelines previously that the gun did not belong to him or the driver of the car, and that "nobody owned up to it so we all ended up in the holding cell."Feelings are mixed from the faculty and student body on how to handle the situation with the players."The football people are just part of regular society. There's a certain percentage of regular society who make mistakes.

The football players are just under a microscope," said Dr. Dave Whitaker, the director of the Horse Science Center.Senior journalism major Geoff Brashear said, "I guess it's a good thing they were caught. If they broke the law they broke the law and they should be punished. What's a football player doing with a gun?"Zane McKee, a senior in electronic media management said, "It's unfortunate but I would withhold punishment until the courts decide."Junior recording industry major Jillian Scott agrees that the players should be punished.

"I do think they should be on a restriction until the trial. I think that they shouldn't be allowed to play until the results of the trial.""They're supposed to be ambassadors for MTSU. They should be better representatives. Because of what they represent for us they should be held to higher standards," said Chris Jones, a senior Horse Science major.Dunbar is a sophomore from Waycross, Georgia and Howard is a sophomore from Covington, Georgia.

They will both be playing in tonight's game against Florida International in Floyd Stadium at 6 p.m. and will continue to play until the trial and the final verdict.

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