President Hammond thanks law enforcement team,
extends sympathy to the family of Clint Johnson
HAYS, KS -- Ellis County Attorney Tom Drees announced the arrests of five men late Wednesday in connection with the death of Clint W. Johnson, an 18-year-old Fort Hays State University freshman from Healy.
Johnson died Saturday from injuries suffered in a Nov. 13 fight at the University Apartments near campus. "Even though this event took place off campus at a privately owned apartment complex, this tragedy has significantly impacted the university community," Dr. Edward H. Hammond, FHSU president, said this morning
Four individuals were arrested under probable cause suspicion for aggravated battery. They are Bradley Darnell Deary, 21, an FHSU junior from Smithville, TX; Luis Anthony Llamas, 23, an FHSU senior from San Diego, CA; Jaime Raul Lopez, III, 23, an FHSU senior from Chula Vista, CA; and Christopher Ryan Ross, 19, an FHSU freshman from Wylie, TX. A fifth individual was arrested under probable cause suspicion for felony obstruction of a criminal investigation. He is Steven Wayne Vincent, 21, from Americus. He is not an FHSU student.
"This is the beginning of the judicial process," Dr. Hammond said. "I want to thank the law enforcement team -- the Hays Police Department, the Ellis County Sheriff's Department, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation and university police -- for their diligent, persistent investigation that has led to the arrests in the Clint Johnson case,"
The president, who is in Topeka today for the monthly meeting of the Kansas Board of Regents, will fly to Healy late this morning to attend the funeral for Johnson, which is scheduled for 2 p.m. in the United Methodist Church there.
"As president of the university, and as a father and grandfather, my thoughts are first and foremost with the Johnson family during this difficult time," Dr. Hammond said. "The university community is extremely disappointed in the alleged behavior of four of its students. Physical abuse of another human being is unacceptable behavior and will be dealt with not only by the criminal justice system but by the university judicial system."
The president said that while the charges were being adjudicated in criminal court, FHSU would concurrently commence formal disciplinary action regarding the status of these students at the university.
"The FHSU Athletic Department and Football Coach Tim O'Connor have been very helpful in the investigation," he said. "The athletic department has already suspended Deary, Llamas and Ross." Lopez is a former member of the FHSU football team whose eligibility expired at the end of the 2002 season.
In announcing the arrests shortly after 5 p.m. Wednesday, Drees emphasized that the investigation into the Nov. 13 melee was continuing.
"I strongly repeat my request of last week that anyone who has any information relating to this incident should contact the Hays Police Department immediately," President Hammond said. "Even though Hays is one of the safest communities in the state and the region, these tragedies can occur, and we need to send a clear message that they will not be tolerated."
Note to editors/news directors: Media are invited to a press conference with President Hammond at 9 a.m. Friday in the Dreiling Lobby of Sheridan Hall.