By Joseph Altman Jr.
Arizona Daily Wildcat
UA President Manual Pacheco told reporters yesterday that the university would rely on fact, not rumor, in dealing with three football players sought for questioning in two separate shooting incidents over the weekend.
Pacheco emphasized at a press conference that the players, senior Brandon Sanders, a pre-season All Pacific-10 Conference free safety, junior cornerback Derrick Stewart and sophomore wide receiver Jeff Nadeau, have not yet been questioned or charged.
"We don't pass judgment without due process," he said.
Sgt. Eugene Mejia said Tucson Police Department is conducting investigations of the shootings.
Athletic Director Jim Livengood said Tucson police should question the players tomorrow. He also said the department had considered suspending the players from the team during the investigation but decided against it, saying that such action would be making a decision based on "the rumor mill."
The university, he said, considers them innocent until and unless they are proven guilty.
In the first shooting incident late Friday night, witnesses told police a car with three men inside pulled into the parking lot of Los Betos restaurant, 3680 E. Grant Rd., and one man, identified as Nadeau, got out of the car, fired shots and then pistol-whipped an unidentified man in the parking lot.
In a separate incident, Sanders and Stewart were identified by witnesses and victims as shooting at a car near North Ninth Avenue and East Elm Street following an incident early Sunday morning at the Paragon Nightclub, 144 W. Lester St., according to preliminary police reports.
Livengood said all three players denied involvement in the shootings, although none could be reached for comment.
Shielded from the media by three unidentified men who were not practicing with the team, Sanders pulled his jersey over his face and refused to speak to reporters at practice yesterday.
Stewart plead innocent to charges of aggravated assault using a deadly weapon and causing serious injury in a May 21 incident at the Holiday Inn City Center, 181 W. Broadway Blvd., where Stewart was accused of attacking a Davis-Monthan airman at a party for Pac-10 athletes.
Stewart did not appear in person at a pre-trial conference yesterday morning where his attorney requested an extension for the conference. The allegations that Stewart was involved in this weekend's shooting might impact plea negotiations, his attorney said.
Head football coach Dick Tomey said yesterday that the accusations have somewhat affected his preparation for Friday's game against Arizona State University, but he continued to back the three players.
"I'm going to believe in our players Ÿ believe they are telling the truth until somebody can prove otherwise."
Wildcat reporters Kelly Sampson and Arlie Rahn contributed to this report.
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