Four Kentucky football players, including a key running back and wide receiver, have been suspended for Saturday's game for their part in an incident that locked down part of campus late Sunday night.
Freshmen Dorian Baker, Drew Barker, Tymere Dubose and Stanley "Boom" Williams will sit out against South Carolina and will face additional internal team discipline for the violation of team rules as they related to an "airsoft pistol" incident.
"Proper conduct is emphasized as a core value of our program," Coach Mark Stoops said in a release on Monday night issued by the university. "If we have a situation in which someone who does not act according to our standards, we hold him accountable."
Williams and Baker, two of the top players in the 2014 recruiting class, had made significant contributions to the offense already this season.
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Williams has been an offensive and special teams threat for Kentucky with 16 carries for 99 yards and a touchdown and five catches for 75 yards and a touchdown. The 5-foot-9 freshman from Monroe, Ga., also has returned four kicks for 105 yards.
Baker, a wide out from Cleveland Heights, Ohio, is third on the team in receiving with 11 catches for 122 yards and touchdown.
Barker, a quarterback from Conner, and Dubose, a defensive end from Youngstown, Ohio, both are headed for red-shirt seasons and likely wouldn't have played against the Gamecocks.
Early Monday morning, UK released surveillance images of what it called "persons of interest" related to a reported shooting near the Kirwan/Blanding complex. They clearly showed Williams in a T-shirt made for the Kentucky special teams group by its position coach.
The images were made public while Stoops conducted his regular news conference on Monday, and he said he'd just been informed of potential involvement of players and was gathering information.
About 7 p.m., the university announced that four players were involved.
"We absolutely respect being part of a wonderful campus community," Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart said in the release. "It disappoints us when one of our student-athletes does not live up to our expectations. We respect the process of the University and are working hand-in-hand with the campus community on this issue."
No one was injured in the incident. UK Police Chief Joe Monroe said police recovered a suspected weapon in the incident — described as an "airsoft pistol" — late Sunday night on UK's South Campus near where the shots were reported. Later, police said they also recovered three BB guns as part of the investigation.
UK instituted an alert about 9:30 Sunday night after receiving two calls about shots being fired in the area around the Kirwan/Blanding complex on campus.
UK police and Lexington city police, including K9 units, searched the area, but found no suspects.
UK asked students to stay in their dorms and avoid the area Sunday night until an all-clear was sounded just before midnight.
The university has spent nearly $5 million on safety initiatives over the past year, including hundreds of safety cameras, campus emergency phones and loudspeakers.
The pictures of the players involved in the incident came from those new cameras in the South Campus area.
Monroe said surveillance footage appears to show someone discarding the weapon on campus.
The footage showed a group of people who appeared to be college-aged. They apparently split up into two groups later, Monroe said Monday morning. Blanton said all of the individuals in the surveillance photos had been identified, and only the football players named were involved in the incident.
The football sanctions might not be the last of the incident for Baker, Barker, Dubose and Williams.
University spokesman Jay Blanton said when the UK Police Department wraps up its investigation it will forward the case to the Fayette County Attorney's Office to discuss the next step.
UK also will turn over the information to the Office of Student Affairs, which could hand out its own punishments based on the student code of conduct.
"But I think it would be inappropriate to pre-judge that process," Blanton said. "We need to let that process play out."
The players could face additional sanctions as outlined by the student code of conduct.
The code states that punishable disciplinary offenses include "any possession or display of, or attempt, or threat to use firearms, explosive or other weapons upon University property without University authorization."
Airsoft pistols are replicas of regular guns that fire 6mm projectiles or pellets.
While pellets from an airsoft gun are not as dangerous as bullets from a regular firearm, they could cause injuries, particularly if they struck someone in the face, Monroe said.