SYCAMORE – Bond was set Thursday morning at $1 million each for two Northern Illinois University students charged in a shooting that left one of the school's football players in critical condition.
Devon Butler, who was a starting linebacker as a sophomore last season for the NIU football team, was shot in the upper right back after four rounds from a 9 mm gun were fired shortly before midnight Tuesday into an apartment building in the 1000 block of Aspen Court, where Butler was visiting with friends.
DeKalb Police Chief Bill Feithen stressed that authorities do not believe Butler was involved in the drug deal that led to the shooting. Two DeKalb men – Mark O. Orozco, 24, and Richard F. Van Arsdale III, 20 – who police say are NIU students have been charged in connection with the shooting and are in custody at the DeKalb County Jail in Sycamore.
Circuit Judge Robbin Stuckert set bond for the two during a Thursday morning court hearing at the DeKalb County Courthouse in Sycamore. Orozco and Van Arsdale appeared in the courtroom via closed-circuit television from the DeKalb County Jail.
Prosecutor Phil Montgomery said police believe Orozco fired the shot that hit Butler and that Van Arsdale was driving the vehicle from which the shots were fired. He said search warrants were executed Wednesday on Orozco's residence and car. That search resulted in finding the gun authorities believe was used in the shooting.
Three shell casings were found in the car, Montgomery said, and an additional shell casing was found on the roadway where the shots were fired.
Police found marijuana plants in Orozco's residence, Montgomery said, as well as a drug ledger and about $800 in cash in the false bottoms of several items, including a soft drink bottle and a container of Ajax underneath a sink.
Montgomery said both men gave videotaped statements to police, and that in those Orozco said he was the shooter and Van Arsdale said he was driving the vehicle.
Each man would have to post $100,000 to be released from jail. Orzoco and Van Arsdale have been charged with attempted first-degree murder and aggravated battery with a firearm; both are Class X felonies punishable by up to 30 years in prison, or up to 60 years if an extended term applies.
They are also charged with aggravated discharge of a firearm, a Class 1 felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison, or up to 30 years if an extended term applies, and unlawful delivery of marijuana, a Class 4 felony punishable by up to three years in prison, or six years if an extended term applies.
NIU spokesman Brad Hoey said that the university has issued temporary sanctions against Orozco and Van Arsdale, "essentially expelling them from the university. They are also banned from campus."
Feithen said the shooting stemmed from a drug deal gone bad that happened earlier in the day Tuesday. Orozco and Van Arsdale intended to sell some marijuana to another person, Feithen said, and that deal was supposed to take place at an arranged location within several hundred feet of the apartment where the shooting took place.
According to court documents, they intended to sell more than 10 grams of marijuana, but less than 30 grams.
That individual took the drugs, identified in court documents as Austin Saunders, took the drugs but did not pay for them, according to police. Saunders fled from the deal, and Orozco and Van Arsdale followed him to 1009 Aspen Court, according to court documents. Saunders hid from the suspects, according to court documents.
DeKalb Police Lt. Gary Spangler said charges are pending against Saunders.
Orozco and Van Arsdale believed the person involved in the drug deal was in the apartment building at 1009 Aspen Court on Tuesday night, Feithen said.
Police were called at 11:56 p.m. Tuesday for a report of gunshots in the area of Aspen Court and Hillcrest Drive in DeKalb. While there are varying reports, Feithen said that police believe four rounds were fired from a 9 mm gun from a vehicle on the roadway. The shots were fired at Apartment No. 3 in the Aspen Court building, according to a news release from DeKalb Police.
One of those shots penetrated the window in that apartment and struck the 19-year-old Butler. Feithen said Butler was shot on the right side of his upper back, and that bullet fragments have been recovered from his body.
Butler was taken to Kishwaukee Community Hospital in DeKalb to be treated. He was airlifted early Wednesday morning to OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center in Rockford, where he underwent surgery and was listed in critical condition as of Thursday morning. Feithen said he was "cautiously optimistic" that Butler will be OK.
Butler is from Pembroke Pines, Fla., according to his biography on the NIU athletics website. He is studying communications, with a physical education minor.
In 2010, Butler was selected to the 2010 All-MAC Third Team Defense. He ranked second on the team in tackles with 71 and ranked third in tackles for loss with 5.5 after recording five tackles, including a half-tackle for loss, against Miami (Ohio) in the 2010 MAC Championship game. He also tied for second with pass break-ups with five on the season.