Update: OSF Saint Anthony Hospital in Rockford said Devon Butler was in critical condition as of 4:35 p.m. and is in Neurointensive Care.
DeKALB – Authorities believe that a late-night shooting Tuesday, that left a Northern Illinois University football player with a bullet in his back, started earlier in the day with a soured drug deal.
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 multiple rounds from a 9 mm gun were fired 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.
Earlier in the day Tuesday, Orozco and Van Arsdale intended to sell some marijuana to another person, Feithen said. That deal was supposed to take place at an arranged location within several hundred feet of the apartment where the shooting took place. That individual took the drugs, Feithen said, but did not pay for them.
Orozco and Van Arsdale believed that 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 that 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 throughout the day. 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.
Officials from the NIU athletics department were at the Rockford hospital Wednesday with Butler. NIU football coach Dave Doeren canceled today’s scheduled spring football practice and all team activities until further notice.
Orozco 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. They are also charged with aggravated discharge of a firearm, a Class 1 felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison, and unlawful delivery of marijuana, a Class 4 felony punishable by up to three years in prison.
Both are expected to be at a bond hearing scheduled for this morning.
• Shaw Suburban Media reporter Bill Braksick contributed to this report.