CONWAY, Ark. – Four men face two counts of capital murder and other felony charges that accuse them of fatally shooting two University of Central Arkansas students and injuring another man, who may not have been their intended targets, officials said Tuesday.
Kawin Brockman, 19, of Conway; Kelcey Perry, 19, of Morrilton; Mario Toney, 20, of Little Rock; and Brandon Wade, 20, of Lake Village, could face the death penalty or a life sentence if convicted on one of the murder charges. The men also face charges of attempted capital murder, eight counts of terroristic threatening, illegally possessing a firearm, firing a weapon from a car and having a handgun on a public school property.
They are accused in the shooting deaths of Ryan Henderson, 18, of Little Rock, and Chavares Block, 19, of Dermott. The shooting's survivor, Martrevis Norman of Blytheville, was wounded in the leg but has been released from the hospital.
"This is an incredibly heinous case," Prosecutor Marcus Vaden told reporters at a news conference. "When you have a situation where it appears some, if not all of the victims were innocent bystanders, that's bad."
However, Vaden declined to say if he'd ask a jury for the death penalty.
"Certainly, that is on the table and could be on the table at some point in the future," Vaden said.
Investigators declined to offer many details of the shooting, which happened Sunday night on the college's campus in Conway, about 30 miles north of Little Rock. Campus police Lt. Preston Grumbles said it appeared the men had been at the university for several minutes before driving up on a group of students near the Arkansas Hall dormitory.
The men fired at least eight rounds from a semiautomatic pistol, Grumbles said. He declined to say whether or not multiple handguns were used in the shooting.
"It appears that they were not the intended targets," Grumbles said. "It appears that, at this time in the investigation, that they were no way involved in the motive that we're formulating."
While Vaden declined to elaborate, he said the defendants each has some sort of criminal record.
So far, some suspects have spoken with investigators about the night of the crime, while others have remained silent, the prosecutor said.
The men remain held in the Faulkner County jail without bond pending a court hearing. Police did not name their lawyers. Telephone numbers registered in Perry and Toney's names were disconnected. A number for Brockman could not be found. A man who answered a Bigelow number in Wade's name said the defendant was not represented by a lawyer. The man declined to comment.
The university resumed classes Tuesday, with students mostly quiet as they walked through the autumn chill. More than 300 students, faculty members and Conway residents filed into an auditorium in the afternoon to remember the two slain students. Those entering passed a pair of enlarged photos of the two slaying victims — Henderson looking at the camera with a pensive look on his face, hands clasped; Block posing in an all-white suit at his 2006 high school prom in Dermott.
"We will move forward," Wendy Holbrook, associate dean of students, told those gathered. "We will not forget."
Students swayed to "Amazing Grace" and later stomped and clapped to the bass beats of gospel ballad "Awesome."
E.C. Maltbia, pastor of Conway's True Holiness Saints Center, urged students not to give into anger or fear after the shooting. Instead, he promised that the university would overcome the tragedy before it.
"UCA, sometimes people don't see Jesus until you go through the fire," Maltbia said. "UCA will come out of the fire and we will not have a hint of smoke."
Just before the memorial service, two police officers sprinted from the auditorium to break up a fight between two women at the nearby student center. As officers raced down the sidewalk, students paused to turn and watch them pass, wondering aloud if they should be running in the opposite direction.