MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Four men were charged with murder Monday in the shooting of a football player on the University of Memphis campus during an attempted robbery, authorities said.
Police said there were rumors around campus that Taylor Bradford, 21, had won more than $3,000 at a nearby casino the night before police found him Sept. 30 in his car, which had crashed into a tree a few blocks from his campus apartment.
Memphis Police Director Larry Godwin said the attackers intended to rob him, but didn't get what they had come for.
"He was targeted because there was some information that was out there and they believed he had some cash," Godwin said.
One of the men is identified as a student at the university. Police arrested Devin Jefferson, 21, Monday night.
Investigators say Jefferson conceived a plot to rob Bradford and the plot was botched, resulting in the victim being fatally shot.
The other suspects were arrested earlier Monday.
The Memphis men, who are not students at the university, were identified as DaeShawn Tate, 21; Victor Trezevant, 21; and Courtney Washington, 22. All three were in police custody. None had an attorney Monday.
Police said the three men believed rumors that Bradford had won thousands of dollars at a north Mississippi casino.
"When that rumor mill started going obviously that generated some motive for some people," said police Sgt. Vince Higgins.
Police said Bradford had several thousand dollars on him at the time of his death, but Godwin declined to say why investigators believe his attackers failed to take it. He also refused to say if Bradford won the money at a casino.
Bradford was shot near a campus parking lot Sept. 30 but managed to drive off in his car, which crashed into a tree a few blocks away. Police found Bradford slumped over in the car with a fatal gunshot wound.
After the shooting, university officials told students, faculty and staff that the suspects had fled the campus, but classes were canceled the following day as a precaution.
Bradford, a Nashville native who transferred to Memphis from Samford University, was buried over the weekend.
In a separate incident in Mississippi, a man was charged Monday with capital murder in the shooting death of Rodney Lydale Lockhart, a University of Mississippi sprinter, police said.
Christian C. Bonner, 20, is accused of killing Lockhart, 20, who was found dead Sept. 29 at his apartment near campus, Oxford Police Chief Mike Martin said.
The junior psychology major was a member of the gold medal-winning U.S. 1,600-meter relay team in the 2006 World Junior Championships in Beijing.
Bonner was being held without bail at the Lafayette County Detention Center. It was not known whether he had an attorney.
Martin declined to give to a motive in the shooting case, but he said Bonner knew the victim. Bonner was not a student at the University of Mississippi, school spokesman Jeffrey Alford said.