DeKALB – Northern Illinois football coach Dave Doeren said linebacker Devon Butler is in good spirits and communicating with family, teammates and coaches via non-verbal signals and notes on an iPad while he recovers from a gunshot wound suffered late Tuesday night.
Butler, who was upgraded Friday afternoon from critical to serious condition at OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center in Rockford, has been cracking jokes with teammates and asking how the team is, Doeren said.
"We're getting positive news on Devon all the time, and that's the main thing," Doeren said. "We want to make sure that he's got a chance to live a healthy life and achieve his goals. Those are all the things we're hearing back. ... He's in a lot of pain. Until he can start talking, he's just kind of nodding and shaking, you know what I mean?
"But a lot of the players went and saw him and he was happy to see the guys. He's got a little iPad that he can write notes on. So he's communicating with you. Obviously when you have a surgery like he had, they're going to keep you in that mode, medically, for a while. So he's doing well."
Doeren said team activities will resume today with a team meeting and a helmets-only practice Saturday at Huskie Stadium. The team also will scrimmage Sunday and have a barbeque afterward.
Mark O. Orozco, 24, and Richard F. Van Arsdale III, 20, have been charged with attempted first-degree murder, among other things, in the Tuesday night shooting of Butler.
Butler, 19, initially was taken to Kishwaukee Community Hospital in DeKalb before being airlifted early Wednesday morning to OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center. He underwent surgery Wednesday. Doeren said he was informed of Butler's situation at 1 a.m. Wednesday and went straight to Rockford. He has seen Butler every day since.
Police said Orozco and Van Arsdale are responsible for firing four rounds from a 9 mm gun while they were in a vehicle into the apartment building at 1009 Aspen Court, where Butler was visiting with friends. One of the bullets struck Butler in the upper right side of his back. Bond was set at $1 million each for Orozco and Van Arsdale during Thursday morning hearings at the DeKalb County Courthouse in Sycamore.
During a search of Orozco's residence at 1234 Rushmoore Drive in DeKalb, police found a 9 mm gun they believe was used in the shooting, Phil Montgomery, a prosecutor with the DeKalb County State’s Attorney’s Office, said Thursday. They also found a few marijuana plants in Orozco’s residence, Montgomery said, as well as a drug ledger and about $800 in cash in the false bottoms of a soft drink bottle and a container of Ajax underneath a sink.
When they searched Orozco’s vehicle, a Dodge Durango, three shell casings were found, Montgomery said. An additional shell casing was found on the roadway where the shots were fired.
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 also are 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.
DeKalb Police Chief Bill Feithen has said the shooting stemmed from a drug deal gone bad that happened earlier Tuesday. Feithen has stressed that authorities do not believe Butler was involved in or had any knowledge of the drug deal.
Orozco and Van Arsdale arranged a meeting to sell drugs to two people, Feithen said. That deal took place at an arranged location within several hundred feet of the apartment where the shooting took place, he said.
According to court documents, they intended to sell more than 10 grams of marijuana but less than 30 grams.
Court documents identify one of the people buying the drugs as Austin Saunders. According to court documents, Saunders took the marijuana and fled without paying. Orozco and Van Arsdale followed him to apartment No. 3 of 1009 Aspen Court, but Saunders hid from them, according to court documents. The "possibility of charges are being evaluated" against Saunders, Feithen said Friday.
Court documents in the cases against Orozco and Van Arsdale do not mention a second person at the drug deal. Feithen declined to release the name of the second person, noting that the investigation is ongoing. He said neither Saunders nor the other person lives as Aspen Court, but they know someone at the building. The resident they know there was not the person Butler was visiting, he said.
"Follow-up interviews are being made," Feithen said Friday. "The investigation is ongoing."
Doeren was at Fatty's Pub & Grille on Friday afternoon for an interview with WSCR 670-AM and to meet and greet NIU fans. He said it was nice to do something positive after what has been a long week for the Huskies.
"It was good to have some positive energy, that's for sure," Doeren said.