Police respond to MTSU football players' 'prank' - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Police respond to MTSU football players' 'prank'


What began as a prank quickly turned into trouble for several Middle Tennessee State University football players.

James Paul was enjoying a quiet evening in his front yard Tuesday when what he witnessed what he thought was a home invasion.

"All of them started rolling in and I didn't know what was fixing to happen," Paul said. "I didn't know if SWAT was going to come in behind them or what."

Police were also unsure at first.

"Police received phone calls that there was a group of black males in vehicles that were armed with guns," said Sgt. Kyle Evans with Murfreesboro police.

Several squad cars responded, not sure what they were facing but prepared for the worst.

"The occupants put on ski masks," Evans said. "The callers told us they were armed with what looked like real guns. One caller said they thought they were fake, the other said they were armed to the teeth."

The guns turned out to be airsoft guns, but looked real. None of the players were arrested.

"When officers arrived, they had a very dangerous situation and did what we call a felony stop, which means they were taken from the vehicle, searched and put into police custody until the situation was deemed safe," Evans said.

Blue Raider football coach Rick Stockstill said several of his freshman players were involved in the prank. He said his players learned a valuable lesson.

"I bring out situations that are going on in our world today; 9/11, Trayvon Martin, the situation in Missouri," Stockstill said. "What was fun and games we all used to do, you can't do anymore."

Evans said it was lucky none of the players acted aggressively or things could have turned dangerous.

"It was dark last night, and airsoft guns are made to look like real guns," he said. "It was a stressful situation and deadly force certainly was in play here. In this situation, officers showed considerable restraint."

Neighbors said it was a prank that went too far.

"What bothered me is what would have happened if it had been one of the kids out there when the cops came rolling up doing 30, 40 miles per hour in this cul-de-sac," Paul said. "You would have had a kid hurt."

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