Delaware State Defends Allowing Shooting Suspect Back On Campus Before Arresting Him

Wednesday, September 26th 2007, 8:54 pm
By: News On 6

DOVER, Del. (AP) _ Delaware State University on Wednesday defended its investigation of a shooting after it allowed the man now charged with injuring two students and firing at a third to return to campus and his dorm room after the crime.

Loyer D. Braden, 18, is accused of the shootings early Friday at a campus dining hall. The shootings followed a fight earlier in the week involving Braden, officials have said. He was arrested early Monday by Dover police and campus officers.

Braden was one of two people questioned and released Friday before authorities began concentrating on him as a suspect. After the shooting, Braden abandoned a 1998 Pontiac Grand Prix, registered in New Jersey in his father's name, at the home of an aunt living near Salisbury, Md.

University Police Chief James Overton told the Delaware State News on Tuesday that officers knew Braden had left campus after the shooting because they had him under surveillance.

Dover police Capt. Lester Boney said Wednesday that his department did not participate in any surveillance of Braden over the weekend.

Overton did not immediately return a telephone message Wednesday left by The Associated Press, but university spokesman Carlos Holmes said investigators had been tracking Braden.

``When he came through the main gate, they had been tracking him for more than a day,'' said Holmes, who refused to say when Braden returned to campus.

Though authorities still have not recovered the gun used in the shootings, Braden apparently was allowed to enter through the main gate, cross campus and use his key card to enter his dormitory.

Overton has said authorities could not arrest Braden until they were comfortable that they had enough information. Holmes refused to say why Braden was not arrested at the campus gate or whether any new information was collected during his time on campus that finally made authorities confident enough to arrest him.

Holmes also refused to say why Braden was allowed to return to campus when he still could have had the gun.

``We are comfortable with the investigation and how they proceeded to result with the apprehension of the subject,'' Holmes said.

Braden's attorney, James Liguouri, did not immediately return a telephone message Wednesday.

Bail for Braden, of East Orange, N.J., was set at $75,000, and he has been ordered to stay away from the victims and Delaware State, where he is a freshman. He faces a preliminary hearing Friday on charges including attempted murder and assault.

Police said Wednesday that the two victims, Nathaniel Pugh III and Shalita Middleton, were probably not the intended targets. The two 17-year-olds from Washington, D.C., were shot shortly before 1 a.m. Friday at the Village Cafe after students got into an argument.

According to a police affidavit, the run-in was preceded by an altercation Tuesday in which a person spit in Braden's face.

Middleton was in serious condition after being shot in the abdomen and lower back. Pugh was shot once in the ankle.

Pugh and Middleton did not instigate the shooting, Boney said. According to court documents, Braden also fired at a third person, James Richmond, but authorities have refused to discuss his role in the shooting or its precursors.

Richmond's hometown was unclear Wednesday, but students say there has been tension on campus between students from Washington and New Jersey.