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UF Football Player Faces Gun Charges

Posted Jun 14, 2007 by Aaron Knox

Updated Jun 14, 2007 at 04:25 PM

The Tampa Tribune

GAINESVILLE - Suspended University of Florida offensive lineman Ronnie Wilson will face a pair of misdemeanor charges stemming from an April incident in which he was arrested and accused of firing an AK-47 rifle into the air to scare a man who had followed Wilson in his car after the men fought in a nightclub.

State Attorney Bill Cervone said Thursday that Wilson has been charged with one count of battery and one count of discharging a firearm in public. Gainesville police had recommended Wilson be charged with a felony count of aggravated assault and a count of using a firearm in the commission of a felony. Cervone said an investigation by his office determined Wilson may have been acting in self-defense when he pulled the gun from his trunk in a parking lot, but Cervone said Wilson should not have pulled the trigger.

“Actually firing a round,” Cervone said Thursday, “goes beyond what Florida law on self-defense allows.”

That law, enacted in 2005 and known to proponents as the “Stand Your Ground” law and to opponents as the “Shoot First” law, “[authorizes] a person to use force, including deadly force, against an intruder or an attacker in a dwelling, residence or vehicle under specified circumstances; creating a presumption that a reasonable fear of death or great bodily harm exists under certain circumstances…”

According to a Gainesville police report, Wilson spit on and slapped Francis Fuller during a scuffle at XS nightclub early on the morning of April 5. Fuller then waited for Wilson to leave the club. According to the report, Fuller drove behind Wilson and called 911 to report the incident in the club. After Wilson realized he was being followed, he turned into a parking lot, stopped his car, got out and pulled the gun from the trunk. He then fired a shot into the air, according to the report.

Cervone said Wilson, 19, purchased the gun legally a few days before the incident. The charges Wilson faces each carry a maximum sentence of one year in jail. He has an arraignment scheduled for July 3 and a pre-trial conference scheduled for Aug. 13.

Cervone said he was informed by Wilson’s attorney, Huntley Johnson, that Wilson, who lived on campus, kept the gun at a friend’s off-campus residence. Florida law forbids the carrying of firearms on UF’s campus.

Reached by phone Thursday, Johnson said Wilson is holding up well and that he “would like to stay at the University of Florida.”

Wilson is not currently enrolled for classes at UF. Johnson said Wilson has an August hearing with UF’s student judicial affairs department.

“That,” Johnson said, “will determine whether or not he will continue as a student at the University of Florida.”

Florida coach Urban Meyer said in April that Wilson’s case is out of his hands. Meyer said he has a team rule banning guns.

Reporter Andy Staples can be reached at (352) 262-3719 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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