Two Utah football players shot at party near U of U campus expected to recover

Posted at 6:44 AM, Sep 13, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-14 10:50:23-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Two men shot at a house party a block away from the University of Utah late Saturday night have been identified as University of Utah football players.

Utah head football coach Kyle Whittingham confirmed Sophomore tight end Lo Falemaka and Freshman running back Marcel Brooks-Brown, were shot in the torso. Both men are expected to recover.

Davison Wille was hanging out on his porch just before midnight Saturday, when he noticed what seemed like a fight break out at a house party next door.

"I actually started walking over just on the grass to see,” he said. “This kid was backing up, and then I see a beer can just hit the ground."

Someone had thrown a beer at a man who was being kicked out of a party, Wille said. What he witnessed next was the man, "pulled the gun out of his back and shot like seven times."

The man ran off. Wille said he didn’t dare to follow.

"We kind of went back to our porch and just... 'did people really get shot?'” he said, recalling the shock. “We went and looked, and there were people bleeding on the grass."

Wille’s roommate called 911. Police immediately showed up to the home, which is at 310 South on 1300 East.

"They were both hit in the torso," said Salt Lake Police Sergeant Robin Heiden of the two victims, Falemaka and Brooks-Brown.

According to the University of Utah, Falemaka is a sophomore tight end who has appeared in both games this season on special teams. He is from West Valley City and attended Cottonwood High School.

Brooks-Brown is a freshman running back from Rio Linda, California. He is expected to redshirt.

They survived the shooting and are recovering at an undisclosed area hospital.

"They are both doing well, recovering, and we expect a full recovery," Sgt. Heiden said.

Tangi Falemaka is Lo's uncle, and he spoke to FOX 13 News, saying his nephew has always worked to overcome obstacles.

"He's a fighter," he said. "He had asthma when he was a kid, so no matter what it is he'd just keep fighting so he could go play ball."

Falemaka said his nephew has a big heart, and he said he was surprised to hear about the shooting.

"It shocked me because he's not the troubled kid," he said. "I know at that age they go to parties and stuff, and he is a big kid, but he's not a troubled kid."

Sgt. Heiden said there were about 100 people at this party. She said the fact that no one else got hurt, and that Falemaka and Brooks-Brown are going to be OK, is extremely fortunate.

According to police, Falemaka and Brooks-Brown were simply trying to get the suspect and another man to leave the party, after the men had already been asked to leave and refused to listen.

Now police are searching for those two, as well as a third man who was reportedly with them.

The thought of what happened makes area residents uneasy.

"You just don't expect a shooting to happen, you know? Kids just come out here to have fun," said Darron Brown, who lives near where the shooting happened.

Kirsten McDonough drove by after the shooting, and she saw the police cars and flashing lights. She was worried, because her friends live just a few houses down, and her home is just down the street.

"It's kind of scary when something like this happens so close to where I live," she said.

The University of Utah wouldn’t give an on-camera interview about what happened, but they did issue a statement from Coach Kyle Whittingham.

“Obviously, our first concern is that both Lo and Marcel are going to be OK, which appears to be the case,” the statement reads. “We don’t have all of the details yet, but it is our understanding that they are the victims in this incident and we feel very fortunate that they are expected to fully recover. It is unknown at this time how soon they will be able to return to the football field, but we are optimistic it will be in the near future.”

The two suspects who were kicked out of the house are described as black men in their 20s. One is 5-feet 9-inches tall, with very short dreadlocks. He was reportedly wearing a baseball cap and a red T-shirt.

The second is described as being 6-feet tall and also wearing a baseball cap but with a red bandanna underneath. He was also wearing a red T-shirt.

The third man, police said, is white and in his 20s, heavy-set with facial hair.

Anyone with information on the suspects are urged to call police immediately.