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Eagle football players arrested

Three Eagles removed from team

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    Four Georgia Southern football players were arrested Friday night during the Brad Paisley concert after one suspect was caught breaking into a vehicle.
    Three of the players were removed from the team, GSU football coach Chris Hatcher said Monday.
    The four arrests followed an incident Friday night when GSU police officer Kendall Hill said he saw Benjamin Mallory Granitz, 19, and Kevin Michael Van Kirk, 20, both of Kennedy Hall, in the act of entering an automobile at Paulson Stadium during the concert, said GSU police investigator John Miles.
    After arresting one of the suspects, “we were able to identify additional suspects and place them under arrest,” he said.
    Granitz and Van Kirk each were charged with entering an auto and possession of a weapon in a school safety zone. Granitz also was charged with underage possession/consumption of alcohol.
    Also arrested in connection with the incident were Charles Thomas DeCarlo, 19, and Matthew Thomas Duke, 19, both also of Kennedy Hall. DeCarlo was charged with fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer and Duke was charged with underage possession/consumption of alcohol.
    Additional charges are pending upon further investigation, Miles said.
    Hatcher decided Monday after questioning the four that three of the suspects will no longer be a part of the team.
    “With the information we have pertaining to Friday night’s incident, Matt Duke, Kevin Van Kirk and Ben Granitz forfeited the privilege to be a part of the Georgia Southern football team,” he said in a statement released Monday.    
    “But naturally, we are going to help them become great citizens in their future endeavors,” he said.
    He did not comment on DeCarlo’s position with the team, said GSU spokesman Pat Osterman.
    None of the students played a major role on the football team as three were redshirt freshmen and one a true freshman.  Granitz was a redshirt freshman tight end from Juliette, and Van Kirk was a redshirt freshman offensive lineman out of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. DeCarlo, a true freshman tight end from Beaufort, S.C, joined the Eagles this year from Fork Union Military Academy.
    Duke, also a redshirt freshman, was an offensive lineman from Jacksonville, Fla.
    Hatcher just completed his first spring practice as Georgia Southern’s head football coach. He was hired in January after Brian VanGorder resigned.
Officer watched
    According to GSU Police incident reports, Hill spotted Granitz and Van Kirk near a black 1998 Firebird, having a conversation. Van Kirk got into the car but Granitz saw Hill and began walking away.
    Hill said he watched as Van Kirk looked in the car’s glove compartment and console, and called for backup. He then drew his gun and ordered Van Kirk to exit the car.
    After hand cuffing Van Kirk, Hill searched him for weapons and found a radar detector, a black bag filled with jewelry, an Ipod, some brass knuckles and a knife, reports stated.
    After additional GSU Police and Statesboro Police officers arrived to assist Hill, he gave them a description of Granitz, but then they spotted the suspect riding in a red Chevrolet truck.
    “Several Statesboro Police officers and myself ran after the vehicle yelling “police, stop,” he stated. “The vehicle went faster ...”
    GSU police officer Matt Ogburn stopped the truck, driven by DeCarlo. Duke was also a passenger, reports stated.
    Statesboro Police Sgt. Charles Forney found a Glock pistol hidden underneath some clothing in the truck, he said.
    The suspects took an assortment of items from at least four vehicles, he said. “We expect there are more (victims)” that will surface during the investigation.
    The incident was the only problem during the concert, which was relatively quiet regarding criminal arrests, Miles said. “We had these four arrests and one disorderly conduct arrest,” he said. “If there are more I am not aware of them.”
    All four suspects were taken to the Bulloch County Jail and later released on bond, according to jail records.

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