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New Facts, Still Mind-boggling

BALTIMORE CITY, Md.

After first lying to police that they were shot in a gas station robbery, and then claiming to invite a gun wound in an attempt to avoid a fraternity initiation, one shooting victim has confessed the true reason why he asked a Morgan State University student to shoot him — to avoid National Guard duty in Iraq.

David M. Briggs, released on a $50,000 bail after being arrested Monday and charged with handgun violations and making a false police report in connection with a shooting last week, confessed to police that he had asked to be shot because he was trying to escape being deployed to Iraq. Another MSU student was also shot.

But Quientin Banks, Maryland National Guard’s director of public affairs, says Briggs, a private who graduated last August from basic training, was going to be deployed for advance training, not to Iraq.

“The young man tried to avoid service to Iraq, but even if he had went to training he wouldn’t have been sent overseas [immediately] because of the timing and such,” says Banks. “He kind of got himself shot in the leg for nothing.”

Briggs’ unit, the First Battalion 175th Infantry Regiment, based in Dundalk, Md., is leaving today for advance training in Georgia, and will be deploying for Iraq in 60 days.

Clint Coleman, Morgan State’s director of public relations and communications, says he questioned the truth of the shooting story from the beginning.

“They lied before; there were holes through out the first story, and the more you looked at the second story, the truth began to leak,” he says.

He says that he is inclined to believe the most recent explanation for the shooting, noting that fraternities and sororities do not membership activities during spring or summer. He says it’s unfortunate that the fraternity was identified in police and media reports.

“The university never mentioned a fraternity’s name because we did not believe the story,” says Coleman. “[Now that the name has been released by police,] it is an unnecessary punishment of an organizations’ reputation. We tried not to talk about what had been a hearsay speculation.”

The fraternity that had been link to the story, according to the Baltimore Sun, was the MSU chapter of Omega Psi Phi.

According to the Sun, Darren Jackson, an MSU senior and a member of the fraternity, says the other wounded man, MSU junior Philip Anderson, had told him that Briggs had plotted the shooting to avoid being sent to Iraq.

“I guess because they were friends … he didn’t want to see his friend go to Iraq,” Jackson says.

The third man involved, a part-time student, senior Xavier Marshall, was the shooter.

Baltimore city police did not return calls about the case, but the Sun also reported that Anderson and Marshall have been charged with various offenses in connection with the incident. They have not been arrested.

Though the young men supplied false information, Coleman says the police also made false statements that need to be corrected.

“Though Briggs had applied and was accepted, there is no record that he is a student at the university,” he says.

–Margaret Kamara

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