There’s a story in this morning’s Dothan Eagle that indicates the four former Auburn football players who stand accused of armed robbery chose their victims at random. Clay Stewart, a 20-year old student at a community college near Auburn, didn’t appear to know the players. It’s also clear that, if Stewart is telling the truth, the players were not after anyone or anything in particular.
This blog had received reports that the victims were known to their assailants but this is apparently not the case.
It appears now that this was a random act of violent thuggery.
Stewart, a graduate of Rehobeth High School, was one of several victims in the March 11 robbery at a residence in Auburn. Authorities captured four men shortly after the robbery. Police later determined all four of the suspects were players on the Auburn University football team. All four players, Antonio Goodwin, Shaun Kitchens, Mike McNeil and Dakota Mosley, were later dismissed from the team.
Stewart vividly remembers the events that unfolded that evening at his friend’s house around 11 p.m. He recalled how some of the men who entered the home had shirts over their heads, and wore what he referred to as football player “receiver-like gloves.”
“I thought it was a joke at first. I just didn’t expect it, and then they started yelling,” Stewart said. “One of them walked right up to me, and put the gun in my face. They destroyed the rooms and dumped stuff out everywhere.”
Stewart recalled how one of the men had a cast on his arm from an injury, and wore a long necklace with a cross similar to a rosary during the robbery. Police were able to match the suspects’ description given from the five victims to four men stopped in a vehicle shortly after the robbery.
Court records indicate all five suspects, including Godwin, 20, of Georgia, Kitchens, 19, of Georgia, McNeil, 22, of Auburn, and Mosley, 19, of Auburn, were charged with five counts of felony first-degree robbery, felony first-degree burglary and misdemeanor theft of property.
“I was nervous at first, but I was mostly just mad because there was nothing I could do to protect myself. It was real fast, they were only there maybe five or six minutes,” Stewart said. “I don’t know why they chose us. They didn’t even get anything besides a couple of cell phones, and the safe. But it was empty.”
This is not just an Auburn thing. If you read the Sports Illustrated/CBS story published earlier this month, criminal activity—often violent criminal activity—has seemingly erupted at college campuses across the country, and many of the violations are alleged to have been perpetrated by student-athletes. Some publications countered that the SI/CBS story wasn’t “fair,” noting that the percentage of college athletes with criminal backgrounds is probably less than the national average for people of the same age, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds.
The point still stands however that incidents like the one that occurred in an Auburn trailer park are damaging to the sport of college football and particularly damaging to the image of the average student athlete.