Ex-Washburn football star arrested at N.D. college, charged with murder

  • Article by: PAUL WALSH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 2, 2013 - 9:01 PM

A 21-year-old North Dakota college student has been arrested in connection with the shooting death of a man outside a bar on Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis.

Cedric Chappell Jr.

Photo: Barnes Co., N.D., jail,

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A 21-year-old North Dakota college football player who was a star athlete at Minneapolis Washburn High School has been charged with fatally shooting a man outside a Minneapolis bar over the weekend during a shootout between two groups of people, authorities said Wednesday.

Cedric Chappell Jr. was arrested Tuesday at Valley City State University, Valley City, N.D. He remains in the Barnes County jail pending his return to Hennepin County.

He was charged earlier in the day with second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder in the death early Saturday of Willie J. Smith III, 22, of St. Paul, outside the Blue Nile Restaurant and Lounge.

Upon his arrest, the junior wide receiver was suspended from the NAIA football team and the school, athletic officials said Wednesday. Chappell was the leader for the 3-1 Vikings in receiving yards and touchdown receptions. The team had a bye on its schedule last weekend, allowing Chappell time to be back in his hometown.

“This was a total shock to us,” said Valley City State Athletic Director Jack Denholm, who added that Chappell caused no trouble during his brief time at the school.

According to the criminal complaint:

Chappell approached Smith outside the Blue Nile at 2027 E. Franklin Av. about 2:10 a.m. and shot Smith once in the chest. Chappell then shot another man who was running away, wounding him in the leg.

Police say the violence began with fighting inside the Blue Nile that spilled into the parking lot. That’s where the two groups began shooting at each other, leaving bullet holes in nearby vehicles.

Chappell graduated from Washburn in 2011 and starred on the football and basketball teams.

On the court as a senior, the forward averaged 12.9 points per game, with a season-high 22 points in the Millers’ upset victory over defending AAA champion St. Paul Johnson in the Twin Cities championship game.

“He’s our rock,” Washburn coach Reggie Perkins said after that signature victory. “We have a lot of young players, and Cedric is the senior we look to to keep his head and be a leader for the guys around him.”

Upon graduation, Chappell attended and played football at the North Dakota State College of Science, a two-year school in Wahpeton, before transferring to Valley City State.

 

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

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