An Eastern Washington University football player was dismissed from the team Friday after he allegedly drew a pistol during a confrontation with police.
Chandler Gayton, 21, a reserve defensive back, is lucky to be alive, according to Cheney Police chief John Hensley.
Hensley said Gayton pointed a 9 mm semiautomatic pistol at two officers who confronted him early Friday morning while responding to a report of a man brandishing a weapon during a fight at a Cheney bar.
“I’m certainly proud of our guys,” Hensley said. “They showed significant restraint in not firing their weapons.”
Later Friday, Eastern Washington head football coach Beau Baldwin said that Gayton was no longer on the team.
“I think every situation is obviously unique, but this is one that warranted this kind of swift action,” Baldwin said at a press conference Friday afternoon at Roos Field.
“We felt as a university and as a football program that this was the right thing to do.”
EWU spokesman Dave Meany said that the university has suspended Gayton as a student, pending a code-of-conduct hearing.
Gayton is the son of Carver Gayton, the first African American FBI agent in the state of Washington.
Baldwin said that “nothing was pointing to this” in Gayton’s behavior during recently concluded spring drills, or in recent team meetings. He described Gayton as “soft-spoken, very competitive and doing all the right things in the classroom.”
Baldwin said he was “Stunned to hear this. But then, I’m going to be surprised if I hear about any of this stuff about any guy in our locker room.”
On the field, Gayton was competing for a backup role in the defensive backfield. “He was in the mix,” Baldwin said. “There was a lot to be competed for,” Baldwin added.
Baldwin said he sent a message to Gayton that “he needs to call me so we can talk one on one.”
The incident began when Cheney police say they saw Gayton urinating on a wall near the Eagle Pub at 1st and College in Cheney about 1:19 a.m. Friday.
When they told him to stop, “he turned and faced them and drew a weapon,” Hensley said. The officers ordered him to drop it, but Gayton “just stared at them with this blank look in his face,” Hensley said.
Gayton dropped the weapon after several commands and was arrested without incident.
“This is I believe a Mother’s Day present for Gayton’s mother, because this could have been horribly painful had he been shot,” Hensley said.
Gayton has a concealed weapons permit, but firearms aren’t allowed in bars.
“He should know that he’s not permitted to be in a bar with a gun,” Hensley said.
Hensley said Gayton brandished the gun in the bar during an argument. He was jailed on misdemeanor charges of being in a bar with a firearm and intimidating police with a firearm. Bond on the charges was $750.
Gayton is a 2009 graduate of O’Dea High School in Seattle and helped lead the team to a runner-up finish in the 2007 state playoffs.
His father was a member of the University of Washington’s 1960 Rose Bowl team and was appointed an FBI agent by director J. Edgar Hoover in 1963.
Carver Gayton went on to a career at Boeing and served as the Commissioner of the Washington State Department of Employment Security for Governor Gary Locke.