In the wake of last week’s news that Jays prospect, and Golden Eagles QB, Anthony Alford had been arrested on the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi, there were a lot of serious shit heads around here (far from anything close to the majority, I’ll grant) moaning about “character” and what they saw as the Jays’ possible abandonment of it in the 2012 draft. They’d come to this rash conclusion because first-rounder Marcus Stroman was suspended at the end of the season after he most-likely-unintentionally took a supplement with a banned ingredient in it, and because Alford had been arrested in this incident– one that these pea brains knew absolutely nothing about.
Nor did anyone else, frankly. Nor do we know a whole lot more right now. And that’s kind of the whole thing: it’s usually a good idea to have a handle on the facts before jumping to conclusions.
Of course, that means I can’t entirely exonerate Alford, either, but at this point I can at least pass along word that things appear to be looking up a little bit, as the Hattiesburg American is now reporting that the charges against him, originally for aggravated assault, have been lowered to “conspiracy to possess a firearm on campus and hindering prosecution.”
The charges are both still felonies, according to local CBS affiliate WHLT, but they certainly sound a bit better. Hindering prosecution, I believe, would mean that Alford isn’t telling the police what he knows about additional participants in the incident– and, indeed, there have been two more arrests, and the police say that two additional suspects are wanted, according to the American’s report.
As for the other charge, several folks on the MyHattiesburg.com forums seem to be of the opinion that the “conspiracy to possess” charge indicates that Alford was attempting to purchase a gun at the time, though I get the sense that they may not be as well versed in the law as they want to believe– shocking, I know– as the original report by campus paper, The Student Printz, quoted Hattiesburg Police Chief Bob Hopkins as explaining that “as calls continued to come in, it developed into an issue where an individual apparently drew a weapon and made some threats. It [the altercation] seems to be a simmering problem that’s been going on for a few weeks.”
A later report– though one prior to the lowering of Alford’s charges– from Jackson, Mississippi’s Clarion Ledger, places a second firearm at the scene:
As police investigated, an officer watched [other arrestee Korey] Hathorn remove a handgun from a vehicle and stow it in his pants. Police detained Hathorn for questioning.
“One of our officers saw a possible suspect up around the old printing center,” [Hattiesburg Police Chief Bob] Hopkins said.
He said officers found another firearm under a car in a nearby parking lot.
Further investigation led to Alford’s aggravated assault charge, which can carry up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
The lowered charges certainly must present Alford a better outlook than that, and it should help him that his attorney, Jim Dukes Sr., tells the American that his client has “never been in trouble.” But that’s not quite the picture others are painting.
Something called the Hattiesburg Patriot has posted Facebook comments from a person purporting to be the brother-in-law of an ex-baseball teammate of Alford’s who claims that the two-sport star did serious damage to his face during a post-practice altercation when the two were in high school. It seems to me a pretty transparent attempt to indict Alford in the court of public opinion as someone whose involvement in the campus incident makes perfect sense, but as no charges were ever laid in the alleged high school incident, and there doesn’t appear to be any reporting of it at the time, it’s not exactly credible.
Comments on the story on the Patriot’s Facebook-page-slash-window-too-far-fucking-deep-into-Mississippi’s-warped-psyche make other allegations of this sort, coupled just as often with refutations, none of which are particularly compelling evidence of some kind of violent nature in this kid.
We simply don’t know what the hell happened here, apart from the fact that it was very obviously fucking stupid, and that guns were involved– in which case, it’s just fortunate that no one got hurt, or worse.
We’ll keep an eye on the story as it continues to develop.
Image via WHLT-TV.