DeKALB – Two Northern Illinois University students have been charged in the Tuesday night shooting that left one of the school's football players in critical condition.
Charged in the shooting are Mark O. Orozco, 24, and Richard F. Van Arsdale III, 20, both of DeKalb, according to police. Both are in custody and have been charged with attempted first-degree murder and aggravated battery with a firearm; both are Class X felonies punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
They are also charged with aggravated discharge of a firearm, a Class 1 felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison, and unlawful delivery of marijuana, a Class 4 felony punishable by up to three years in prison.
The DeKalb Police Department and NIU have confirmed linebacker Devon Butler was shot late Tuesday night in an Aspen Court apartment building. Kishwaukee Community Hospital confirmed late Wednesday morning that Butler had been treated at the DeKalb-based hospital, but said he no longer was a patient there. He was airlifted early Wednesday morning to OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center in Rockford, where he is listed in critical condition after undergoing surgery.
NIU President John Peters said he extended NIU's thoughts and prayers to Butler's family and said the family has all of NIU's support. He said he spoke with a Butler family spokesman who said Butler is recovering from surgery, and that the family seemed optimistic about his recovery.
DeKalb Police Chief Bill Feithen said that the shooting happened as a result of a drug deal that had gone bad earlier Tuesday. He stressed that Butler had no knowledge of or was involved or present during that drug transaction. He said Butler was at the off-campus apartment Tuesday where he was shot to meet with friends.
Feithen said that the drug deal that soured took place at an arranged location within several hundred feet of the apartment where the shooting took place. He said the two suspects intended to sell marijuana to another person; that individual took the drugs and did not pay for them.
"We were able to, through people involved in that and witnesses, we were able to pull information together that led us to the suspects," Feithen said.
Police were called at 11:56 p.m. Tuesday for a report of gunshots in the area of Aspen Court and Hillcrest Drive in DeKalb. While there are varying reports, Feithen said that police believe four rounds were fired from a 9 millimeter handgun from a vehicle on the roadway. The shots were fired at Apartment #3, 1009 Aspen Court, according to a news release from DeKalb Police.
The drug transaction did not happen at that apartment, Feithen said, but the suspects believed that one of the individuals involved in the earlier incident was in that residence.
One of those shots penetrated the window in Apartment #3 and struck Butler. Feithen said that Butler was shot on the right side of his back, and that bullet fragments have been recovered from his body. Butler is out of surgery; Feithen said that he is "cautiously optimistic" that Butler will be OK.
"All our thoughts and prayers as a team and as a coaching staff right now are with Devon,” NIU football coach Dave Doeren said in a news release issued by the university. “He’s a member of our family and the most important thing is his health.”
Doeren is at Saint Anthony's and is in close contact with Butler's family, according to the university.
NIU Director of Athletics Jeff Compher also released a statement in the same news release.
“As an athletic department and as a university, I know that we are going to support Devon, his family and his teammates in every way we can,” Compher said. “Our primary focus is on all of our student-athletes at this time.”
Doeren has canceled Thursday's scheduled practice and all team activities until further notice.
Postings on Butler's Facebook page have messages of "stay strong" on it. He is a junior at NIU from Pembroke Pines, Fla., according to his biography on the NIU athletics website. He is studying communications, with a physical education minor.
In 2010, Butler was selected to the 2010 All-MAC Third Team Defense, according to his biography. He ranked second on the team in tackles with 71 and ranked third in tackles for loss with 5.5 after recording five tackles, including a half tackle for loss, against Miami (Ohio) in the 2010 MAC Championship game. He allso tied for second with pass break-ups with five on the season.
In a separate statement, NIU President John Peters said the entire NIU community's thoughts and prayers are with Butler and his family.
“I commend the DeKalb Police Department for their quick response to this incident and the swift apprehension of suspects. A special thanks to the DeKalb Fire Department, the NIU Department of Public Safety and other first responders for their efforts as well. This morning I spoke with DeKalb Mayor Kris Povlsen, and I pledged NIU’s continued support for improving the safety in an area of DeKalb that has become a problem within our community,” Peters said in the statement.
“After receiving notification from the DeKalb Police Department of the apprehension of suspects and the filing of subsequent charges, I am confident that there remains no immediate danger for the NIU campus or surrounding community,” Peters said.
Police were alerted to the shooting just minutes before midnight Tuesday when they recieved a call of shots fired at an apartment building at 1009 Aspen Court. DeKalb Police Lt. Gary Spangler said at the scene the victim was shot once, but was not sure where on his body the man was hit. NIU first confirmed on its website at 2:04 a.m. Wednesday that the victim was an NIU student.
Some witnesses reported seeing a vehicle drive away shortly after the shooting, but Spangler said police weren't sure if it was related to the incident.
In the 2:04 a.m. posting on NIU's website, however, it stated "police say a witnesses at the scene reported a black SUV similar in make to a Dodge Durango was seen leaving the scene." The NIU posting also said that law enforcement officials "are advising citizens to be alert and use caution when traveling within the city."
DeKalb Police stopped a black Dodge Durango about 12:30 a.m. in the 1100 block of West Hillcrest Drive in DeKalb, according to a police report. The driver, Rogoberto Zavala, 22, was arrested on two warrants for driving with a suspended license. A search of the vehicle uncovered no weapons, and he was released after posting $500 bond.
Feithen said Wednesday that there is no indication that Tuesday night's shooting was related to two reported shootings that happened over the weekend.
One took place about 1:49 a.m. Saturday at Third Street and Lincoln Highway in downtown DeKalb, where a crowd had gathered outside The House Cafe after an event had ended. Police received a report that a single gunshot was heard. Spangler said earlier this week that police have evidence that suggests at least one shot was fired near the location. No one was struck by a bullet, and investigators have not determined whether any object was struck by a bullet.
Another shooting was reported about 9 p.m. Sunday in the area of Ridge and Rushmoore drives. Police believe two or three shots were fired, and at least two struck an apartment in the 1200 block of Rushmoore Drive.
Both of those shootings are still under investigation, Feithen said, and he declined to comment further on them.
Anyone with information regarding any of the recent reported shootings in the city of DeKalb is asked to call DeKalb Police at 815-748-8400 or DeKalb County Crime Stoppers at 815-895-3272.