Terp running back told police he drove car involved in drive-by shooting

Police also found gun in Wes Brown's dorm room, court documents show

  • University of Maryland running back Wes Brown in a University of Maryland media guide photo
University of Maryland running back Wes Brown in a University… (University of Maryland )
March 11, 2014|By Justin Fenton, The Baltimore Sun

When University of Maryland football player Wes Brown was suspended last year, officials released few details to explain the action other than to tie it to an alleged confrontation with a police officer who wanted to question him in a shooting investigation.

But according to court documents in a wide-ranging prosecution of Black Guerrilla Family gang members in Baltimore, Brown told police that he was behind the wheel of a vehicle involved in the drive-by shooting last June at a birthday party for an alleged high-ranking gang leader.

As part of their investigation, Baltimore police obtained a search warrant and found a .22-caliber handgun in Brown's dormitory room. They also got a court order to be able to track his cellphone.

Brown, 20, has not been charged in connection with the nonfatal shooting, nor any handgun violations. He has returned to the Terps football team after being suspended following his arrest in July on second-degree assault charges in connection with allegedly shoving the police officer. Charges in that case were dismissed.

"I can tell you that, if he had done anything wrong, he would've been charged," said Brown's attorney, Jason A. Shapiro. "There's been no charges lodged against him from that entire investigation."

The university suspended Brown, a top running back on the team, in early August, and he missed the entire 2013 season. He became eligible to return to school after the fall semester when he fulfilled certain criteria, including completing community service. The university declined to answer questions, citing privacy guidelines, instead releasing a statement.

"The University of Maryland conducted a thorough investigation in cooperation with law enforcement officials," the statement read. "Based on that investigation and in accord with the guidelines set forth in the Student Code of Conduct, a suspension was issued. Since that time, Wes Brown has met specific criteria to qualify for reinstatement."

Baltimore police officers went to College Park last summer to question Brown as a "person of interest" in the city shooting, according to the documents related to the Black Guerrilla Family case and obtained by The Baltimore Sun. Police wrote in those documents that Brown said he was driving the vehicle — which had a bullet hole in its side — when the shooting occurred.

The man eventually charged with firing the shots is 22-year-old Montel Harvey, who was indicted in November as part of a criminal conspiracy involving the Black Guerrilla Family gang in East Baltimore. Forty-eight people were charged in that case, including Brown's half-brother, who is alleged to be a member of the gang.

City prosecutors declined to comment on the shooting investigation, citing the pending case.

University of Maryland police spokeswoman Sgt. Rosanne Hoaas confirmed that the gun was found July 4 in a dorm in the South Campus Commons. The search was not documented in campus police incident logs, and that department declined to immediately release a police report related to the search.

But officials said the case was referred to Prince George's County prosecutors, who declined to press charges. John Erzen, a spokesman for the state's attorney's office, said Brown could have faced charges for illegal possession of a handgun because he was under 21 years old.

"The reason we did not move forward with that is because the probable cause for the search warrant, we felt, was insufficient," Erzen said. "Therefore, anything that was recovered as a result of that search warrant would've been inadmissible in court. The warrant shouldn't have been issued in the first place, and didn't leave us anything that could be pursued."

The University of Maryland's Code of Student Conduct prohibits unauthorized use, possession or storage of any weapon, with penalties ranging from having to do research projects or being denied on-campus housing, to expulsion.

In the alleged assault of an officer, Erzen has said Brown "was resisting what could be considered an unlawful arrest."

Shapiro said Brown was "unconstitutionally stopped and searched" by police in that incident. According to a police report, he resisted accompanying the detectives to headquarters and said he wanted to have at least one parent with him during questioning. He was accused of then shoving a detective before taking off on foot.

Shapiro said Brown is working to put his life in order.

"He's been through an awful lot," Shapiro said. "At a young age, he has had to rebuild his entire life and fight his way out of unjust charges … and he's on a path now where he is keeping good company and working hard on the football field and in the classroom."

Central to the Black Guerrilla Family case is Wesley Jamal Brown, the older half-brother of the Maryland running back, whose full name is Wesley Jerel Brown.

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