November 16, 2010
First, the relatively good news: Hattiesburg police have arrested two people in connection to a nightclub shooting that seriously injured three Southern Miss players early Sunday morning, according to a local television station. Both were reportedly charged as accessories after the fact, rather than as shooters.
Now the bad: USM president Martha Saunders released a statement Monday describing injuries to two of the players, Martez Smith (above, being examined by coach Larry Fedora) and Tim Green (right, in Saturday's win over Central Florida), as "significant." Smith's grandfather told another local station that Smith "couldn't move his legs," according to a conversation he'd had with his son, Smith's father. "Trusty sources" told respected Jackson columnist Rick Cleveland that a bullet severed Smith's spinal cord. Another allegedly hit Green in the neck, severing his vocal cords.
Fedora wouldn't comment on the extent of Smith's injuries Monday, but he did confirm that Green is unable to speak:
HATTIESBURG — Southern Miss football coach Larry Fedora acknowledged one of three USM players wounded in a shooting outside a nightclub early Sunday morning couldn't speak on Monday, but wouldn't otherwise comment on the specific condition of the hospitalized men.
"They felt like they let the team down," Fedora said.
Fedora said junior linebacker Tim Green conveyed that message in writing because he was unable to speak because of his injuries.
The third player, Deddrick Jones, was reportedly shot in the chest, and underwent surgery Sunday to remove a bullet from one of his lungs, according to his hometown newspaper in Louisiana. An anonymous family member told the paper his injuries aren't life-threatening.
All three players were reportedly unarmed. Fedora, responding to the third gun-related incident in his three-year tenure (though the first with gun-related injuries), has subsequently declared the team on "lock down" – all Hattiesburg bars and clubs are off limits. Police haven't ruled out gang activity in the shooting, but are investigating it "an isolated incident." They're hoping someone from the crowded scene Sunday morning comes forward with more information.
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Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.