The Orange County Sheriff's Office confirmed Thursday afternoon that Pro Bowl NFL player Brandon Meriweather was present during a shooting in Apopka last month, but law enforcement officials made no other characterization of his role.
The Sheriff's Office said Meriweather, a former star at Apopka High School and a safety with the New England Patriots, was present when two men were shot on Feb. 28.
At a news conference this afternoon, the Sheriff's Office said it wants to talk to Meriweather about the shooting of Nico Glendale Stanley and Quentin Louis Ramone Taylor.
Meriweather has not spoken yet to detectives, who told the player's south Florida lawyer, Adam Swickle, that they want to question him about the shooting, Capt. Angelo Nieves said.
Meriweather’s lawyer, Adam Swickle, reached out to the sheriff who stated he was looking to “facilitate an interview with his client. We are receptive to this overture (opportunity) and detectives are seeking to further this interview if it can b arranged.”
The police also refused to “characterize or disclose Mr. Meriweather’s status in this case, though we do seek to interview him.”
Thursday evening, sheriff's crime scene technicians were in Apopka scouring the front yard of a home at the corner of Marvin C. Zanders and 17th Street, identified on Thursday as the suspected location of the shooting.
As night fell, investigators had placed almost 100 evidence markers in the grass. A technician was scanning the area with a metal detector, and two others were working on an area of the driveway. Detectives said they have yet to find the gun or guns used in the shooting.
Taylor, 24, who had been shot in the face, spoke to detectives on Wednesday for the first time. Stanley, 23, who was grazed by a bullet in the face, spoke to detectives on Monday, according to the sheriff's office.
Investigators believe the shooting followed an earlier confrontation at the Blue Jeans Lounge, a nightclub near Apopka
Stanley hung up on a reporter who tried to reach him on his cell phone Thursday afternoon. However, he and Taylor say Brandon Meriweather shot them, their lawyer told the Orlando Sentinel.
"I represent the victims who say they were shot by Brandon Meriweather," Orlando attorney John Morgan said. "I don't know if it happened or not. I am presuming him [Meriweather] innocent until proven guilty."
No charges have been filed in the shooting. Swickle told the Orlando Sentinel he is aware of the circumstances involving his client.
"I am aware of the investigation," Swickle said. "We are doing our own investigation."
Swickle said he would have no other comment because a criminal investigation is ongoing.
"William Brandon Meriweather, among others, has been identified as being present during a shooting . . . being investigated by this Office," Nieves said in a written statement.
Meriweather's agent, Joby Branion, declined comment on any potential criminal matters.
Meriweather, victims know each other
Stanley and Taylor attended Apopka High School with Meriweather, who graduated in 2002.
Meriweather was a star athlete for the Blue Darters and later a star football player at the University of Miami. He was a first-round draft pick by the Patriots in 2007.
"We are aware of the reported allegation, but do not have any additional information," the Patriots said in a statement.
Sheriff's records show there was a fight at the Blue Jeans Lounge in Apopka on the night of shooting. Deputies were later dispatched about 2 a.m.to Marvin C. Zanders and 17th Street in Apopka in reference to a shooting, according to a four-page report released Thursday.
Deputies arriving on scene didn't find any victims or a crime scene. But as they checked the surrounding area, Apopka police alerted the Sheriff's Office that officers were at Florida Hospital Apopka with two shooting victims.
Meanwhile, Apopka police pulled over a car with four people inside at the intersection of 7th Street and Central Avenue. Three women and a shirtless man were inside the car, reports show.
Officers said they found an unloaded Smith & Wesson handgun wrapped in a sweaty black T-shirt inside a black, nylon backpack inside the car.
None of the four people in the car claimed to know the bag or gun was inside the car, according to the report. However, investigators identified the shirtless man, 23-year-old Theo Sean Peterson, as the suspected owner of the gun.
The group told the officer they were at the Blue Jeans Lounge when a fight broke out. Two people in the car told the officer they are related to one of the gunshot victims who was at the hospital, the report states.
Meriweather is not mentioned anywhere in the four-page report.
Stanley and Taylor were driven to Florida Hospital Apopka where Taylor was listed last week in critical condition.
Officers spoke to Stanley in the emergency room. He signed a 'declination of intent' to prosecute, which states he did not wish to pursue charges. He also claimed to not know who shot him, according to the Sheriff's office.
Taylor suffered a possible seizure while an officer tried to interview him and was taken into surgery, the report states.Former Player of Year
Meriweather was the Orlando Sentinel's 2001 Central Florida high school player of the year after leading Apopka to a 14-1 season and Class 6A title. He was recruited to college as a safety, but also played other positions for the Blue Darters, including quarterback during the second half of the state championship game after starter Kenard Bradford was injured.
He played at the University of Miami from 2002-06 and was an All-ACC selection his final two seasons.
His college career also included some controversy. In 2006, the summer before his senior season, Meriweather and teammate Willie Cooper saw a suspicious car parked outside their residence. When they went to check it out, a man next to the house shot at them, hitting Cooper in the rear end.
Meriweather returned fire and the man ran away. No one was seriously injured.
Meriweather had a permit for the gun, and it was determined he was acting in self defense. He was not charged.
As a senior, Meriweather was seen stomping on several Florida International players on the ground during a fight. He was suspended by the ACC and Miami.
In 2007, he was drafted No. 24 overall by the New England Patriots.
During his four-year career he has played in every regular-season game, recording 261 tackles including two sacks, with 12 interceptions and five forced fumbles. He has been named to the last two Pro Bowls.Click here to order Brandon Meriweather’s proCane Rookie Card.