March 26, 2013 in Region

Police: WSU player conscious after spat with Vandals

Brandon Macz Moscow-Pullman Daily News
 

A Washington State University football player regained consciousness Monday following an alleged Sunday brawl involving his teammates and players from the University of Idaho in Pullman.

WSU wide receiver Mansel Simmons was found unconscious in the Sacred Heart Church parking lot with injuries to his head, potentially a skull fracture, by Pullman Police responding to a reported assault early Sunday morning. Simmons was transported first to Pullman Regional Hospital and then to Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane.

Police Cmdr. Chris Tennant said WSU and UI players had been attending the same party at a private residence on the 500 block of Maple Street when a disagreement occurred.

“All that’s coming up so far is just a rivalry between the two teams,” he said.

The fight turned physical outside in the church parking lot where witnesses confirmed a knife was displayed, but not used, during the altercation. Tennant said a WSU player was initially suspected in Simmons’ injuries, but he was cleared following execution of a search warrant at his dorm room.

“The current thought is, yes, it is a UI player,” Tennant said. “We have a person of interest being involved in that fight.”

A 2001 Honda Accord belonging to the girlfriend of UI senior wide receiver Kyren Watts, who was using the car that night, was totalled about an hour later, Tennant said.

WSU players are believed to have committed the act as retribution for Simmons’ injuries, Tennant said, adding Watts is not necessarily the person of interest in the assault. He said WSU team members are believed to have been indiscriminate in their retaliation against UI players, and the person of interest has been interviewed.

“Every place you could put a dent is dented,” he said, as well as broken out windows. “The driver’s door is about ripped off its hinges, all of the rearview mirrors are ripped off.”

Simmons reportedly regained consciousness Monday, and Pullman detectives were sent to Spokane to interview him about the events of Sunday morning.

“We’ve got nothing but cooperation from the coaches on both sides of the state line, which is fantastic,” Tennant said.

Around 10:40 a.m. Sunday, Sacred Heart Church employee found an unloaded .32-caliber semiautomatic handgun in weeds by a fence. Police are looking at it as possibly related to the fight.

“It’s all speculation at this point,” Tennant said. “We’re still continuing our investigation.”

WSU athletics spokesman Bill Stevens said the matter is being dealt with internally, but football practice will continue as scheduled 3 p.m. today.

“Coaches are still gathering information and we would never comment on team matters,” Stevens said. “It will be dealt with within the team.”

Attempts to reach UI athletic director Rob Spear were unsuccessful Monday.

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