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Dover police: suspect in custody in Delaware State University shooting

An 18-year-old man who grew up in an upper middle class neighborhood in East Orange, N.J. was charged Monday in the shooting of two Delaware State University students.

Loyer D. Braden was charged with attempted murder, assault and reckless endangerment, as well as a gun charge, according to court documents. A man at Braden’s home in East Orange who identified himself only as a family member said Braden was a freshman at Delaware State.

Braden appeared Monday afternoon before a justice of the peace and was ordered held on $75,000 secured bond. He was ordered to stay away from the victims and the university.

Nathaniel Pugh III and Shalita Middleton, two 17-year-old students from Washington, D.C., were wounded early Friday in the attack. Middleton suffered serious abdominal injuries from two gunshots. Pugh was shot once in the ankle.

Braden was also accused of firing at a third student, James Richmond, according to the documents describing the reckless endangerment charge.

The shootings followed a fight Tuesday between Braden and one of the victims in a university parking lot, according to a heavily redacted affidavit by Lt. Donald Baynard of the Delaware State University police department. The victim received a small cut under his lip, and he spit saliva and blood on Braden’s face, the affidavit said.

The dispute boiled over again late Thursday when Braden and someone else approached one of the victims as the victim waited in line for food at the on-campus Village Cafe. They argued about the earlier fight, and while the argument was diffused, Braden remained “very angry,” the affidavit said.

The victims left the cafe and several witnesses told police Braden left shortly after they did, the affidavit said.

Four officers escorted Braden from the police department to the Justice of the Peace court for his hearing. He had his hands cuffed and his legs shackled. He wore a blue shirt, blue jeans and an earring in his left ear.

In response to reporters’ questions, he softly said, “I’m sorry.” Asked what he was sorry for, Braden replied only, “She’s in the hospital.”

Braden graduated in June from Immaculate Conception High School in Montclair, N.J., where he played basketball and football. Football coach Sean Morris remembered him as a laid back player who generally did just enough to get by but was never a discipline problem.

“I’m shocked,” Morris said. “This would be the last thing I’d ever expect of Loyer.”

Morris described Braden’s mother, Denise Braden, as a very involved parent.

In 1998, Braden was among a group of Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts who escorted jazz great Lionel Hampton to an East Orange elementary school that had named a concert hall in Hampton’s name, according to a 1998 report in The Star-Ledger of Newark.

Delaware State officials have scheduled an afternoon news conference to discuss the case.

The shooting occurred after a group of students left the on-campus Village Cafe. Pugh and Middleton were struck by gunfire on the Campus Mall, a pedestrian area.

Mindful of the Virginia Tech massacre that killed 32 people in April, administrators ordered a swift shutdown of the Delaware State campus. They directed students to stay in their dorms, posted notices on buildings and the school Web site, and lowered gates while police searched for the gunman.

Investigators talked Friday with two people they described as persons of interest. Neither was labeled a suspect and they were later released.

Some students have said the shootings stemmed from a rivalry between students from Washington and New Jersey, although university police have said the investigation has not led them to believe there was a “turf battle.” Other students have said a dispute arose following a card game.

Classes resumed Monday without incident.

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Delaware State University:

Associated Press writer David Porter in East Orange contributed to this report.

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