Georgia freshman football players Julian Rochester and Chad Clay spent about 12 hours in a Clarke County jail Tuesday, each accused of two felonies, on charges related to shooting and possessing a BB gun in their residence hall on the Georgia campus.
“I’m disappointed with the poor judgment of Julian and Chad,” Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said in a statement. “They will be disciplined in an appropriate manner.”
According to players' attorney, Kim Stephens, they were apparently firing at plastic cups in their dorm room with a BB gun, which left marks on the door and in other areas of the room.
The incident dates back to Thursday, April 7, when the damage was first reported by a university employee.
Witness statements were taken from four people, and a search warrant was sought to search the common areas of the room belonging to Clay and Rochester for any handguns, BB guns, or ammunition or projectiles related to handguns. The warrant was granted, and further investigation of the room found: A total of 12 BB “indentions” on the refrigerator and freezer; several more indentions in the drywall behind the refrigerator; a “great deal” of broken glass on top of the refrigerator; “several” BB indentions on the fronts of six wooden cabinets in the kitchen.
Additionally, several wine bottles had “apparently” been struck with a BB-sized projectile.
Police say they found a small amount of suspected marijuana in the bathroom. The police report states that the “baggie did not contain a sufficient amount of marijuana for testing, therefore no charges were filed concerning this item.”
Rochester and Clay were each charged with having a weapon in a school zone. The way the statute reads, anything that shoots a projectile — “including a straw and spitball” — fits the definition of a weapon on campus, Stephens said.
House Bill 859 sits on the desk of Gov. Nathan Deal and would allow anyone 21 or older with a weapons license to carry a gun anywhere on a public college or university campus, except for inside four places: dormitories, fraternities and sorority houses, and at athletic events. Everywhere else, including campus child care centers, music concert venues and classrooms, would be open under the bill.
Neither Clay (19) nor Rochester (18) are 21 years old. Both Rochester and Clay are early enrollees. Rochester, a defensive lineman from Powder Spring and McEachern High School, was one of the team’s top recruits. Clay is a defensive back from Marietta and Peachtree Ridge High School.
The two also were charged with criminal damage in the second degree for what police detailed as more than $1,000 damage from BB guns pellets.
The estimated damage was broken down by police as:
- $350 for the door to the adjacent room
- $650 to the refrigerator in Rochester and Clay’s room
- $75 to the light diffuser in the hallway
- $10 for holes in the wall next to the adjacent room.
After the search of their room, Clay and Rochester were booked at 12:13 a.m. Tuesday. The pair was granted a $2,000 bond on the weapons charge after a hearing Tuesday morning, according to their attorney. Both were released on a $2,000 bond at 11:22 a.m. The criminal damage charge carries a bond of $5,000.
These are the first felony arrests for a Georgia football player since Johnathan Taylor in June 2014 on domestic violence charges.
These are the second and third arrests of a Georgia football player this spring. Defensive lineman Jonathan Ledbetter was arrested last month on two misdemeanor alcohol charges.
Smart addressed the latest arrests during a regularly scheduled interview on AM 680.
"Poor decisions," Smart said. "It's something we're going to have to deal with as a university and a team."