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Zip line

Sports blotter: "Guns and skimasks" edition
By MATT TAIBBI  |  May 28, 2008


That’s a Zip gun
There was an extraordinary incident in Akron, Ohio, this past week involving 20-year-old Rydell Brooks, a sophomore guard on the UA Zips basketball team. According to reports, cops pulled over a van on Bellows Street in Akron in what we might euphemistically describe as your standard “routine traffic stop.”

Side note: in many states with large urban black populations, there are laws against “excessively tinted windows,” and police use this dubious legal maneuver as a probable-cause lever to stop and search cars. In this case, the van in question had such windows, and cops approached it. But they reportedly hadn’t made it even close to the vehicle before shots rang out. Two men inside the van fired at police and then took off on foot, only to be eventually chased down. Brooks and one Edward Davis, also 20, were apprehended.

The real intrigue began when police searched the ’97 Dodge Caravan and found five guns and two ski masks. Nobody is saying what they think the endgame was supposed to be that night, but one suspects it wasn’t an improv-comedy performance. Brooks is now being held on a $1 million bond — repeat: $1 million bond — and the charges so far are attempted murder, felonious assault, carrying a concealed weapon, driving with a suspended license, and driving with the aforementioned excessively tinted windows. One imagines a possession-of-burglary-tools charge might also be in the works, as well as some other assorted prosecutorial yokes for the eventual trial.

I’ve been unable to find an instance of another athlete getting arrested with a gun and a ski mask in his car. About the closest thing was the Maurice Clarett incident, in which the former star Ohio State running back was arrested with four guns and a hatchet not far from the home of a witness who had identified him as the man who stole a cell phone at gunpoint in an alley. (Clarett was also in possession of a CD containing children’s songs that had been distributed to prisoners of an Ohio penitentiary.) That incident, you may recall, led to revelations about Clarett’s relationship with an Israeli ex-con/mobster named Hai Waknine — revelations that helped observers make sense out of some of Clarett’s more mystifying past statements, including his head-scratching exit from a meeting with East-West Shrine Game officials in 2004 (“I’ve got to go. It’s Shabbos.”).

As for Brooks . . . hardcore hoops fans may remember him as the guard who propelled little-known Niagara U. to the 2007 NCAA tournament. He sat out this year and was due to begin playing for the Zips next season. Unlikely, to say the least. For shooting at cops, he heads toward the top of the board with 88 points. Further details on the way . . .

More bad news from Penn State. First, the Nittany Lions recently had to boot a reserve wideout named Chris Bell for off-field issues; Bell ended up getting arrested a short time later for making terrorist threats. The team also has had to deal with the arrest of linebacker Tyrell Sales, who got involved in a scuffle that led to a disorderly conduct arrest in March. (Sales was also one of six players who got arrested in April 2007 for a brawl that is somewhat legendary in collegiate-sports circles for its reportedly high level of craziness; recently drafted cornerback Justin King was another. Charges against both were later dropped.) This in addition to the already much-publicized murder conviction of ex–Nittany Lion linebacker LaVon Chisley this past fall.

Now another ex-Lion is in serious trouble. This time it’s Gerald Smith, who played wide receiver for Penn State between 2002 and 2004. Smith got nabbed in a police sting operation in which an informant told narcotics agents that a man named “G” was supplying coke in the State College area. The informant set up a buy with “G,” and “G” turned out to be Smith. Police searched his car and uncovered 123 grams of coke and a digital scale. The drugs have a street value of a little more than 12 grand. The local DA is hitting Smith with criminal conspiracy, possession with intent to deliver cocaine, possession of cocaine, and criminal use of a communication facility — in other words, using a cell phone to arrange a drug deal. See ya later, G. Thanks for your years on the field.

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  Topics: Sports , Gerald Smith , College Athletics , College Football ,  More more >
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