Missing Athlete Feared for His Safety, Friend Says
WACO, Texas – Before he disappeared last month, missing basketball player Patrick Dennehy (search) and his roommate were so worried about threats to their safety that they armed themselves for protection, a longtime friend said Wednesday.
Daniel Okopnyi said he urged the Baylor University (search) forward to come stay with him in Fort Worth so he could avoid trouble, but Dennehy at first refused, saying he had to protect roommate Carlton Dotson (search).
"He said, 'I've got Dotty's back,"' Okopnyi said in a televised interview.
Dennehy changed his mind about going to Fort Worth a few days later, saying on June 14 he would come and bring Dotson along, Okopnyi told ABC-TV's Good Morning America.
He said Dotson had a shotgun they were using for protection, but they were "trying to trade it in for two handguns."
Okopnyi told The Washington Post that Dennehy told him that "someone is out to get me." But Okopnyi said the person who had allegedly threatened Dennehy wasn't Dotson.
That was the last contact anyone has publicly reported with Dennehy. A woman told a newspaper she saw Dennehy and Dotson in Dennehy's vehicle in Waco on June 12. The vehicle was found last week on the East Coast.
According to a search warrant affidavit citing a police informant, Dotson told a cousin he shot Dennehy as the two argued while firing guns.
But authorities called Dotson -- a Hurlock, Md., resident who played basketball at Baylor last season -- simply a "person of interest."
"He's just a citizen. It's a missing person's case," said Hurlock police Capt. Chris Flynn.
Authorities said Tuesday they have no single suspect and still hope Dennehy is alive.
"There's still a glimmer of hope Mr. Dennehy will show up and say, `Hey, this is where I've been the whole time,"' Waco police (search) spokesman Steve Anderson said.
Search dogs found no sign of Dennehy when the FBI helped Waco police search about 50 acres of private land north of town last week, Anderson said.
No charges have been filed, Anderson said. He said a Waco investigator interviewed Dotson on Friday, but he didn't know whether police had spoken to him since the affidavit was made public Monday.
Dotson told The Washington Post on Tuesday he has hired an attorney.
"I want everyone associated with this to know my prayers are with them," Dotson told the newspaper.
At Hurlock, a rural community on Maryland's eastern shore, Dotson's aunt, Pat Waters, said he returned to town for the summer and was at her house Sunday, but they didn't discuss Dennehy. She didn't know where he was Tuesday.
Waters said Dotson is "probably scared. He's not a person that talks a lot."
Grady Irvin Jr., Dotson's lawyer, told the newspaper the next step is to "spend time with authorities to see if we can be of assistance." Irvin, a St. Petersburg, Fla., attorney who represents athletes, did not return a call early Wednesday from The Associated Press.
Okopnyi said Dennehy was worried about threats to Dotson by two of their teammates.
"He was afraid for him. They were good friends," he said.
Okopnyi said Dennehy "sounded extremely paranoid," which was unusual.
Dennehy's mother and stepfather told ABC their son and Dotson were friends, and Dotson seemed sincere and forthright.
They said Dennehy had no history with guns, though they knew he had told a coach he was worried about his safety.
"We never raised our kids to touch guns or even be around guns. We never kept guns in our house," Valorie Brabazon said Wednesday. Not even toy guns, added her husband, Brian Brabazon.
The family reported Dennehy, a 6-foot-10 junior, missing June 19. His sport utility vehicle was found last week in a mall parking lot in Virginia Beach, Va.
The search warrant sought in the affidavit was for Dennehy's room and the contents of his computer. It doesn't say if anyone else was present when Dennehy and Dotson allegedly were firing guns. According to the affidavit, Dotson said he got rid of the guns while driving home to Maryland.
A man who owns a Waco-area farm searched by police last week told The Dallas Morning News that Dennehy and Dotson were seen shooting guns there on June 10, two days before Dennehy disappeared.
The property owner, who was not identified, said the two often visited the farm 20 miles northeast of Waco for sport shooting and fishing. The property owner's wife was the person who told the newspaper she saw the pair June 12.
The two had met the property owner and his wife in March while responding to an advertisement for pit bulls, the newspaper reported.
Dennehy sat out last season at Baylor because of NCAA transfer rules, his only year there after coming from the University of New Mexico, where he was cut after losing his temper during practice.