Football players face felony charges

Harrisonburg police arrest three University students on counts of assault, battery, burglary; London issues suspensions immediately

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Three Virginia football players were arrested on misdemeanor and felony charges Tuesday.

Police charged sophomore cornerback Devin Wallace, sophomore center Mike Price and redshirt sophomore linebacker Ausar Walcott each with three counts of assault and battery by mob and burglary-entering a dwelling with the intent to commit an assault. After police obtained warrants Tuesday, all three players "cooperatively turned themselves in," according to a police report.

The report specifies that the incident occurred at an apartment complex near James Madison University Jan. 30 at 1:34 a.m. Wallace, Price and Walcott allegedly assaulted three males after a verbal altercation escalated. Two victims were taken to Rockingham Memorial Hospital in Harrisonburg, Va. with non-life threatening injuries and have been released since then, the report said.

James Madison senior Kyle Kelly said the assaults took place during a party he helped host.

"A few of my friends that are alumni came down, and we decided to throw a party at another friend's house," Kelly said. "I was playing beer pong, and all the sudden, three or four guys barged in screaming, and they wanted to fight because they thought somebody had [directed a racial slur toward] them, and there was a big scuffle."

Kelly said a full-scale fight did not develop because of the apartment's crowded space, but some damage did occur.

"My friend got a bloody lip, went to the hospital and got eight stitches," Kelly said. "We just tried to get them out of the party. They broke a piece of trim on the door as they left."

The party was held on the apartment's third floor. Kelly said when the guests went downstairs, they discovered another injured party, whom he described as "bleeding profusely from his head."

Kelly said he did not know who the players were at the time.

"We hadn't seen them in the party the whole night," Kelly said. "We didn't invite them, we didn't know who they were. We actually thought they might have been JMU football players. They could have been NFL players for all I knew, I had no idea."

The University has responded to the news by immediately suspending the three football players from the team.

"The players know the expectations I have for them as student-athletes both on and off the field, and as representatives of both the football program and the University," coach Mike London said in a press release Tuesday. "I am disappointed in the conduct of these individuals and the fact they chose not to represent themselves in the appropriate manner."

Walcott started 11 of Virginia's 12 games last season, recording 56 tackles - the team's third-highest total. Wallace started seven games for the Cavaliers, playing in place of injured senior cornerback Ras-I Dowling. Pierce served as the team's reserve center.

"They will not participate in any team activities while suspended," London said. "But they will continue to attend all study halls and to meet their academic requirements."

The arrest comes a day after The Cavalier Daily reported that sophomore tailback Torrey Mack is no longer enrolled in the University. He previously faced academic probation, according to a source who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

The Jan. 30 incident was not Wallace's first encounter with Harrisonburg Police, The Washington Post reported yesterday. Online court files confirmed the Post's report that Wallace was arrested at James Madison Sept. 17 for underage purchase and possession of alcohol. Harrisonburg courts ruled Wallace guilty in absentia and suspended his license for six months. The conviction also imposed a $500 fine, which Wallace has yet to pay. That incident occurred during a Virginia bye-week, and Wallace started Virginia's next game against Virginia Military Institute. He played in each of the team's remaining games.

It is unclear whether alcohol was involved in the recent incident. Beyond the alleged verbal altercation, Kelly could not offer another motive for the players' anger or entrance to the party.

"We didn't want them at our party," Kelly said. "We didn't want to fight them. We didn't know why they wanted to fight. It just seemed like a totally random act of violence"

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