Report: Mass. authorities interested in details of '07 Gainesville shooting

By Ryan Wilson | CBSSports.com

In 2007, Aaron Hernandez was a 17-year-old freshman with the Gators. (USATSI)
Massachusetts authorities are reportedly interested in the details surrounding a 2007 shooting that took place in Gainesville, Fla., when Aaron Hernandez was a 17-year-old freshman football player for Florida. According to ESPN.com, investigators have reached out to Gainesville police in the hopes of determining if Hernandez had any role in a shooting that left two men wounded. The Gainesville Police have denied this report.

According to witness Randall Cason, the shooter was an "Hawaiian" or Hispanic" male, muscularly built, 6-foot-3 or 6-4, weighed roughly 230 pounds and had a lot of tattoos. Cason added that there was a black male with the shooter, whom he identified as Reggie Nelson, the former Gators safety who was then a rookie with the Jaguars. Nelson denied this in an interview with Gainesville police, saying he wasn't even on the same street as the shooting.

Here's what Cason, who was sitting in the back seat of the car that was fired upon, told detectives, according to the police report obtained by ESPN:

"As they were waiting for the light to change, the Hawaiian football player and Reggie Nelson walked up to their car on the right side," Cason said. "Then without saying a work [sic], the Hawaiian pointed a small handgun in the front right window and fired five quick shots. Cason saw [Corey] Smith slump over with blood coming out of the back of the head, at which time the Hawaiian and Nelson took off running towards McDonald's."

Cason later explained to investigators that, earlier in the week, his brother had gotten into an altercation with several Florida football players.

More details via the ESPN report.

Two days after the shooting, Gainesville police Lt. Keith Kameg was quoted in the Orlando Sentinel as saying neither Hernandez nor Nelson were suspects. Police have also said that they briefly interviewed Hernandez about the shooting. But, according to the police report, Hernandez declined to speak to Gainesville police nine days after the shooting. …

That same day Cason, who had originally said Nelson and the Hawaiian or Hispanic male were the suspects, "rescinded his identification of Aaron Hernandez and Reggie Nelson," according to the report. While Hernandez's name was redacted in the document, it was the first time the report indicated that Cason had positively identified Hernandez as the shooter at some point.

On Wednesday morning, the Gainesville Police issued a statement on Facebook denying the ESPN report that Massachusetts investigators have reached out about a nearly 6-year-old case.

“The Gainesville Police Department is aware that members of the national media are reporting on GPD Case 02-07-020053, a shooting investigation from an incident report obtained from sources outside of the Department. The stories also mention that Massachusetts law enforcement agencies have contacted the Gainesville Police Department about the investigation.

“The Gainesville Police Department has not been contacted by any other law enforcement agency about this incident. The Gainesville Police Department has not released any incident report concerning this case, due to it being an open criminal investigation. Any alleged reports currently circulating may or may not be accurate, since the Gainesville Police Department did not release any reports. The origin of these alleged reports is unknown.

“Due to the case being classified as an open criminal investigation, the Gainesville Police Department will not be releasing an incident report nor commenting on this open investigation.”

The Gainesville Police issued this update a short time later:

"It has come to our attention that the incident report for GPD Case 02-07-20053 was released inadvertently. This information was just discovered after our most recent press release was issued. A public records request was made by ESPN and fulfilled in error by a clerk.

"Since the report was already made a public record pursuant to a request by ESPN, it is now available for download on GPD's website: www.gainesvillepd.org.

"It should be noted that this incident report is not complete. There are still detective supplements outstanding because it is classified as an open criminal investigation."

Hernandez was charged last week with first-degree murder in the shooting death of Odin Lloyd. He was denied bail and is in jail awaiting trial.

Additionally, Hernandez is being sued for allegedly shooting a man in the face, and he's being investigated for a 2012 double slaying in Boston. In 2007, Hernandez avoided arrest after allegedly punching a man and rupturing his ear drum.


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