Aggies suspend 3 players in wake of shooting

Dec. 7—New Mexico State University has suspended men's basketball players Anthony Roy, Issa Muhammad and Marchelus Avery for their roles following a deadly Nov. 19 shooting on the University of New Mexico campus as controversy continues to swirl around the incident.

A New Mexico State spokesman said all three players will sit out one game. The Aggies were in California on Wednesday night to face Santa Clara and are scheduled to play at Duquesne in Pittsburgh on Saturday. The players' status for this weekend's contest remains unclear.

Roy did not make the trip to Santa Clara. The school said it was "for personal reasons."

Avery and Muhammad traveled with the team and were expected to be in street clothes for Wednesday's game.

The suspensions come on the heels of Monday's announcement that forward Mike Peake has been handed an indefinite suspension for his role in the shooting, which resulted in the death of UNM student Brandon Travis. Video of the incident shows Peake, 21, firing several gunshots at Travis at the Coronado Hall residence center at UNM, hours before the Aggies were to meet the Lobos in a highly anticipated game between the two rivals.

Travis was struck multiple times and died at the scene. Peake suffered a gunshot wound to his left leg and was taken to University of New Mexico Hospital. According to a police report, the three Aggies players left their hotel and came to the scene after the incident. They retrieved the wounded Peake in a yellow Chevrolet Camaro.

Surveillance video shows the men placing objects in the trunk of the vehicle before driving off. Police say Peake's gun was one of the items concealed in the trunk.

As more details of the shooting come into focus, the role of the NMSU coaching staff after the shooting is being closely scrutinized. The school said Tuesday it will hire an outside investigator to examine the events of that night and compile a detailed report about those involved, including the coaches.

A New Mexico State spokesman said no one on the Aggies' coaching staff has been disciplined. Head coach Greg Heiar and assistants Dominique Taylor and Lorenzo Jenkins are seen on video being questioned by state police Officer David Esquibel in the hours after the shooting. Esquibel spoke to Heiar and Taylor outside the team hotel in downtown Albuquerque.

Taylor said he slept through five calls from Muhammad and 11 from Roy, finally getting out of bed when Heiar called the landline in his hotel room. Esquibel asked Taylor about the Camaro and Peake's gun.

Peake's weapon was later retrieved from Taylor at the Doubletree Hotel. A police report said it was wrapped in a towel and in Taylor's possession. How and when the coach got the gun remains unclear.

Peake's tablet, which was used to send messages back and forth with UNM student Mya Hill before the shooting, was retrieved by police after the team bus was pulled over on Interstate 25 while headed back to Las Cruces. Video shows Jenkins giving the tablet to Esquibel.

Peake's cellphone was handed over in Las Cruces and transported back to Albuquerque for processing.

The Bernalillo County District Attorney's Office said it is actively working with state police on the matter. Peake has not been charged. Hill, 17, is charged with aggravated battery and conspiracy. Jonathan Smith, 19, faces charges of aggravated battery, conspiracy and tampering with evidence.

Police say Travis and other UNM students conspired to lure Peake to campus to exact revenge for a fight during a Lobos-Aggies football game in October.

"We didn't have no end plan," Hill told investigators after the shooting. "The end plan for me, what I was told to do was [expletive] run. That was my end plan. That is what they told me to do."

In the video, Travis and Peake are seen exchanging gunfire. Both men tumble to the ground with Peake getting off two final shots after falling onto his back.

He is seen standing up and hopping back on his right leg to retrieve something, then hops out of frame around the side of the building. Travis is seen lying motionless next to the building. Smith and another man flee when the shooting began, and Hill retreats into the dormitory.

New Mexico State athletic director Mario Moccia referred all questions to a university spokesman, who confirmed the suspensions of Roy, Muhammad and Avery. Heiar has repeatedly refused to answer questions about the incident in a handful of news conferences with local media.

The shooting led to the cancellation of both Lobos-Aggies basketball games. Both schools have vowed to start screening fans at home games, asking them to pass through metal detectors before entering each arena. NMSU did not have a system in place for its most recent game against Simon Fraser earlier this week.

Muhammad is a 6-foot-9 junior forward from Atlanta and is one of four Aggies averaging double digits in scoring.

Avery is a 6-8 forward from Richmond, Va. He and Muhammad transferred to NMSU from Northwest Florida State College, a junior college coached by Heiar last year.

Heiar was named NMSU's coach seven months ago.

Roy is a 6-5 guard from Oakland, Calif. He is third on the team in scoring at 11.6 points and is one of its top 3-point shooters.