A few years ago, it looked like college athletes shooting strangers with BB guns was going to be the boutique sports offense of the 21st century. We had a rash of interesting cases. Remember Adam Gourley? No? He’s the Oklahoma State offensive lineman who sat in his dorm-room window popping passers-by with a BB rifle. Or how about that case involving the Rider University baseball team, when a player named James Kennedy pulled a BB rifle on a pizza-delivery chick? Or how about Winston Justice — yes, that same Winston Justice now playing tackle for the Philadelphia Eagles — who, four years back, pulled a pellet gun on a student in a parking structure on the USC campus?
There were more. Marsalous Johnson, a defensive back for the Tennessee Volunteers, was involved in one of the more bizarre cases of 2006 when he waved a pellet gun out the window of a speeding car at an off-duty Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency officer (Johnson was eventually found not guilty). Then there was onetime Super Bowl hero Dwight Smith, formerly of the Tampa Bay Bucs, who pulled a BB gun on a slow-to-decide motorist in a McDonald’s drive-through.
Need more memories? How about Ohio State University basketball recruit David Lighty, who escalated the phenomenon by pegging a 55-year-old jogger in the neck a few years back? Or Billy Tibbets, legendary hockey goon, who violated his parole with a BB shooting and ended up doing two years? Of course, locally we remember the story of St. Anselm College football players shooting the hell out of a bunch of skate-geeks with BB guns, understandable behavior that for some reason is designated as a crime.
Now we have another case, and what’s noteworthy about it is the new choice of weapon and target. Ohio University sophomore basketball player Maurice Pearson has been arrested and charged with the fantastic-sounding crime of “aggravated menacing and assault” after shooting a pair of Delta Gamma sorority girls with an “Airsoft” rifle. For those of you not familiar with the device, an Airsoft rifle is a kind of play-gun used by grownups who think paintball doesn’t hurt quite enough, but aren’t willing to go far enough to do us the favor of using real guns to remove each other from the gene pool. Airsoft guns fire little non-metallic pellets that can break the skin and leave welts on exposed beer bellies and bald heads. They are not the kind of thing you typically want to fire at a sorority girl if you’re trying to get laid. Firing one at two sorority girls is even less productive.
Anyway, Pearson pleaded no contest on the menacing charge but pleaded not guilty to the equally humorous charge of “inducing panic.” He’s been suspended indefinitely, but expect him to return — pellet-gun shooters almost always do. In the meantime, give him 36 points for the double shooting.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have been a feisty bunch this season, with safety Troy Polamalu whining about “pansy” football and receiver Hines Ward getting fined repeatedly for his headhunting and blind-side blocking. However, things had been relatively quiet on the crime front, until this past week, when wideout Santonio Holmes scored a typical weed-in-SUV bust to upset team equilibrium.