LEWISTON – University of Idaho football player Eric McMillan, who died of gunshot wounds last September, was shot twice with two different weapons, authorities say.
The first and fatal shot was to the chest. But the second bullet, found between the skin and skull behind McMillan’s left ear, wasn’t found until an autopsy two days after the shooting.
Moscow Police Chief Dan Weaver said Thursday it appeared the bullet to the chest was from a .40-caliber weapon, and the bullet in McMillan’s head was a .38-caliber. Earlier reports indicated the fatal shot might have come from a 9mm weapon. Weaver said no weapons have been found.
Three men – brothers Matthew and James Wells of Seattle and their nephew, Thomas Riggins of Kent, Wash. – are scheduled to stand trial May 23 for murder and conspiracy in the shooting.
Latah County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Robin Eckmann declined comment about the second bullet. Until now, authorities have not mentioned that two bullets were fired from two guns.
Weaver said police often withhold investigation details on the theory that suspects might incriminate themselves by mentioning evidence that hasn’t been made public. He said he was willing to confirm the second bullet and two weapons now because the investigation appears to have netted all the suspects.
A total of nine people, all of them Wells family members or linked to the family, have been charged, many with perjury before a grand jury.
News that two bullets hit McMillan confirms eyewitness accounts from people at the scene who said they heard two shots fired. While police didn’t rule out two shots, investigators speculated that one shot and an echo might have been heard.
Despite being shot twice, McMillan managed to stagger to a neighbor’s apartment and asked to be taken to the hospital, where he died about 11 hours later.
The bullet to the head, according to the autopsy report, caused damage, but a shot to the chest killed him, pathologist Morgan S. Wilson found.
Witnesses at McMillan’s off-campus apartment building in Moscow said they saw two men wearing dark clothing arrive and leave in a white BMW automobile. In between, the shots were heard.
McMillan was a starting cornerback for the University of Idaho football team. He was apparently shot in the doorway of his apartment, police said. No motive has been offered, other than that the shooting may have stemmed from a previous altercation.
According to grand jury indictments, Riggins allegedly solicited the Wells brothers to do the shooting.
The Wells brothers were arrested about three hours after the Sept. 19 shooting after reportedly leading authorities on a high-speed chase while driving a white BMW.
All three of the principal defendants are being held in the Latah County Jail on $1 million bonds. The other six defendants were released after posting bond.
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