Four Riverside-Brookfield High School varsity football players face charges of battery and disorderly conduct after allegedly shooting BB-type guns at two people walking along Forest Avenue in Riverside on Sept. 2.
According to Riverside police, all of the teens were equipped with Airsoft guns and shot at two women from a vehicle. The alleged shooting occurred at 11:30 a.m., just after football practice. Three of guns, one pistol and two rifles, had orange tips on the barrels. A fourth gun that looks like a shotgun did not have an orange tip, said Police Chief Thomas Weitzel.
“If that weapon was pointed at a police officer, we’d return fire,” Weitzel said.
The Airsoft guns fire hard, round plastic pellets.
Weitzel said at least two of the teens were still wearing their Bulldogs jerseys at the time of their arrest.
Detective Sgt. David Krull said that a 34-year-old woman from LaGrange was struck by a BB in the left hip, leaving a large welt. The woman, who police say is six months pregnant, was treated by Riverside paramedics, but was not hospitalized.
Another woman in her company was not struck, but told police that she felt a pellet fly by her face, Weitzel said. The women phoned police and gave them a partial license plate number of a vehicle they saw drive from the scene.
Charged with one count of battery and two counts of disorderly conduct were Alexander Brown, 17, of Riverside; Conor Callanan, 17, of Riverside; William Linehan, 17, of Riverside; and Edward Morrissey, 17, of Brookfield.
All of the students have been disciplined as athletes at the high school, said RB Interim Superintendent David Bonnette. School was not in session at the time of the incident and it did not happen on school grounds, so the boys will not face discipline as students.
“They’re being disciplined through the athletic code,” said Bonnette, who said he could not reveal the nature of the disciplinary action citing student record confidentiality. “They’re not being disciplined as far as school attendance is concerned.”
The person responsible for disciplining the students was Assistant Principal John Passarella and not Athletic Director Otto Zeman, who is also the school’s football coach.
“The athletic director does not take action,” Bonnette said, “but works through the student services assistant principal.”
Bonnette said that school officials took into consideration a variety of factors in handling this case, including the school’s past practices. Officials also took into consideration the students’ own record of conduct at the school, Bonnette said.
“When the police chief called me, it was almost dumbfounding that kids who basically are really good kids could go off and do something that defies logic,” said Bonnette, who knew the boys as grade school students when he was superintendent of Riverside School District 96.
“The disappointment I’m sure the parents have with their kids is something that we share.”
The players did not suit up for the Bulldogs’ football game on Friday night against Nazareth Academy.