- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 25, 2007

DOVER, Del. (AP) — A suspect in last week’s shooting of two Delaware State University students from the District was arrested in his dorm room early yesterday, campus officials said.

Loyer D. Braden, 18, of East Orange, N.J., was charged with attempted murder, assault and reckless endangerment, as well as a gun charge, according to court documents. A man at Mr. Braden’s New Jersey home who identified himself as a family member said Mr. Braden was a freshman at the school.

University officials, who had assured the campus community over the weekend that the gunman was not on campus, could not explain how or when Mr. Braden returned to his dorm room.

“I’m not clear on that matter,” Delaware State University Police Chief James Overton said. “I can’t get into that.”

Mr. Braden was arrested about 3 a.m., Chief Overton said.

Mr. Braden appeared yesterday afternoon before a justice of the peace and was ordered held on $75,000 secured bond. He was ordered to stay away from the victims and the university.

Nathaniel Pugh III and Shalita Middleton, two 17-year-old students from the District, were wounded early Friday in the attack. Miss Middleton suffered serious abdominal injuries from two gunshots. Mr. Pugh was shot once in the ankle.

Mr. Braden also was accused of firing at a third student, James Richmond, according to the documents describing the reckless-endangerment charge.

The shootings followed a fight Tuesday between Mr. Braden and one of the victims in a university parking lot, according to a heavily redacted affidavit by Lt. Donald Baynard of the Delaware State University police department. The victim received a small cut under his lip, and he spit saliva and blood on Mr. Braden’s face, the affidavit stated.

The dispute boiled over again late Thursday when Mr. Braden and someone else approached one of the victims as the victim waited in line for food at the on-campus Village Cafe. They argued about the earlier fight, and although the argument was defused, Mr. Braden remained “very angry,” the affidavit stated.

Four officers escorted Mr. Braden yesterday from the police department to the Justice of the Peace court for his hearing. He had his hands cuffed and his legs shackled. He wore a blue shirt, blue jeans and an earring in his left ear.

In response to reporters’ questions, he softly said, “I’m sorry.” Asked what he was sorry for, Mr. Braden replied only, “She’s in the hospital.”

Mr. Braden graduated in June from Immaculate Conception High School in Montclair, N.J., where he played basketball and football. Football coach Sean Morris remembered him as a laid-back player who generally did just enough to get by, but never had a discipline problem.

“I’m shocked,” Mr. Morris said. “This would be the last thing I’d ever expect of Loyer.”

Mr. Morris described Mr. Braden’s mother, Denise Braden, as a very involved parent.

In 1998, Mr. Braden was among a group of Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts who escorted jazz legend Lionel Hampton to an East Orange elementary school that had named a concert hall in Mr. Hampton’s name, according to a report at the time in the Star-Ledger of Newark.

Mr. Pugh and Miss Middleton were shot on the Campus Mall, a pedestrian area.

Mindful of the Virginia Tech massacre in April, in which 32 persons were killed, administrators ordered a swift shutdown of the Delaware State campus. They directed students to stay in their dorms, posted notices on buildings and the school Web site, and lowered gates while police searched for the gunman.

Investigators talked Friday with two persons they described as persons of interest. Neither was labeled a suspect, and they were later released.

Some students have said the shootings stemmed from a rivalry between students from the District and New Jersey, though university police have said the investigation has not led them to believe there was a “turf battle.” Other students have said a dispute arose after a card game.

Classes resumed yesterday without incident.

Associated Press writer David Porter in East Orange, N.J., contributed to this report.

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