ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” on Wednesday took a closer look at a 2007 shooting in Gainesville, FL, in which former Florida Gators tight end Aaron Hernandez was questioned after a “source with knowledge of the [Odin Lloyd] murder investigation” told ABC News that Massachusetts authorities have reached out to the Gainesville Police Department “in hopes of determining if Hernandez had any role” in the incident.
In response to ESPN’s report, the GPD announced via press release that it is “aware that members of the national media are reporting” on the incident but noted that the media obtained a police report “from sources outside of the Department” because the GPD “has not released any incident report concerning this case due to it being an open criminal investigation.” Furthermore, the GDP refuted ABC News and denied being contacted by “any other law enforcement agency about the incident.”
However, one hour later, the GPD updated its press release to explain that the police report in question “was released inadvertently” after “a public records request was made by ESPN and fulfilled in error by a clerk.” The GPD subsequently made the report available to the public, noting that it is incomplete because “there are still detective supplements outstanding because it is classified as an open criminal investigation.”
Below are the pertinent details from the police report, many of which were first released by ESPN in its Wednesday report:
» On Sept. 30, three men – Justin Glass (19, driver), Corey Smith (28, front passenger seat) and Randall Cason (20, back seat behind Smith) – were in a car when they were fired upon. Glass was hit in the arm and Smith in the back of the head, but Cason was unharmed during the shooting.
» Cason told police that two men approached the driver’s side door of the car, identifying one as “Hawaiian” or “Hispanic,” 6-foot-3 to 6-foot-4 and 230-240 pounds with a muscular body type. The other he named as Reggie Nelson, a player for the Jacksonville Jaguars at the time. He said the former man is the one who “fired approximately five shots into the open front passenger window of the vehicle” before both fled towards McDonald’s on 13th Street. Cason later identified the former man as Hernandez, 17, but his name was redacted from most of the police report due to him being a minor. He twice confirmed to police that Nelson was at the scene of the shooting. “Nelson did not have the gun, he was just there,” Cason said in the report.
» Cason said he believed Nelson and the other man were in a black GMC Tahoe registered to Nelson and that the car was at the scene of the shooting.
» However, multiple witnesses at the scene of the incident but outside of the car all identified the shooter as a black male, standing 5-foot-10 to 6-foot-0 and weighing 150-160 pounds. Multiple witnesses also noted that the shooter did not step out of a car but rather walked out of bushes and across a side walk on the north side of the road. After firing his gun five times, the shooter “swiftly walked back through the bushes he had just come out of, and then proceeded to sprint north” towards the same McDonald’s that Cason mentioned. The witnesses that saw the shooting said the black male was dressed in all black clothing; those that only saw a black male running towards the McDonald’s identified him as wearing a green polo shirt.
» Cason believed the incident occurred as “part of an ongoing dispute between the suspects and Cason’s brother” and noted “that there had been a confrontation with the suspects earlier that night at [The Venue] downtown.” He told police that his brother “got into an altercation” with Florida football players the prior weekend at the same establishment. It was later revealed that the altercation included Cason’s brother snatching a necklace off either Maurkice or Mike Pouncey, both of whom were at the club the prior week and the night of the incident.
» Cason said some Gators players confronted him and his friends at the club on Sept. 30 and asked “what are we going to do about this” in regards to the prior incident. “At this point one of the football players attempted to snatch Cason’s gold chain off his neck [but] was not successful because the chain was thick,” the police report notes. Nelson, the Pounceys and a white male or “Hawaiian” were all said to be at the scene. Cason told the players that his brother had already given away the stolen necklace.
» Approximately 45 minutes after the football players were removed from The Venue, after the club closed, Cason told police that his group of friends and the football players met up “in the parking lot of 238 West” where “they were able to talk things out, shake hands, and everyone was ‘all smiles.’”
» The next day, Nelson was interviewed by police and provided the following information, which was summarized in the police report.
He arrived at the Venue last night about midnight. He was there with Demetrious Webb and Richard Lakes (cousin). Once there, they met up with Rodney Peterson. They saw the Pouncey twins (James and Lashawn) a little later. He cannot distinguish them apart. They were with [redacted], who Nelson identified by photo. [Redacted] told Nelson of an incident where one of the twins had his necklace snatched by Randall Cason. Later, after the club closed, one of the twins related the same story and pointed to Cason. Nelson went over to speak with Cason. They discussed the stolen necklace and Cason told him the chain had already been given away. Nelson advised they didn`t want any trouble and he left on good terms. Nelson was familiar with Cason and identified him from a photo. Nelson was parked in the 238 WUA parking lot. Webb, Lakes, Peterson and he left. They drove west down NW 3rd Ave toward NW 13th St. Nelson advised they were not on WUA when the shooting took place. They ended up at Markie Anderson`s room on the UF campus. Nelson gave me Rodney Peterson`s phone number to corroborate his story.
I spoke with Peterson by phone. He reported the following: Last night, he met Nelson and Richard Lakes at the Venue. He did not see any conflicts inside the club. Once the club closed, he drove with Nelson and the others in Nelson`s vehicle. Peterson described approximately the same route to NW 13th St that Nelson described. He firmly stated that he never lost sight of Reggie Nelson after they left the club. He also said they did not witness the shooting.
» When he was interviewed by police nine days after the shooting, Cason “rescinded his identification of [redacted] and Reggie Nelson.”
Two days after the incident, GPD Lt. Keith Kameg told the Orlando Sentinel that neither Hernandez nor Nelson were suspects in the shooting but both were questioned as part of the investigation. However, the police report states that Hernandez “invoked his right to counsel” nine days later when police wanted to question him.
The investigation remains ongoing in Gainesville.
You can read the entire 51-page police report by clicking here (PDF).