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No 'red flags' popped up for VCSU football player charged with murder

VALLEY CITY - A spokesman for Valley City State University said officials there were surprised by the murder charges against a now-suspended star wide receiver for the VCSU football team, a 21-year-old who had a criminal record as a juvenile that included two vehicle theft charges.

Cedric Chappell Jr. is in custody in the Barnes County Jail after his arrest Tuesday on second-degree charges of murder and attempted murder linked to a shooting outside a bar Saturday in Minneapolis.

Chappell was suspended from the university based on the potential for immediate danger to other students, said VCSU spokesman Director Greg Vanney.

Vanney said he did not know whether anyone at the university knew of Chappell's criminal history.

When he was 17, Chappell was charged with theft of a motor vehicle as a gross misdemeanor in January 2010 and again with felony motor vehicle theft and receiving stolen property in March of the same year.

Court records show he pleaded guilty to the gross misdemeanor vehicle theft charge and the receiving stolen property charge, also a gross misdemeanor. He was sentenced to a year of supervised probation. The vehicle theft charge was dismissed.

Vanney said the state university system relies on a student self-declaring any criminal history upon application, including past felonies, violence misdemeanors and sex offender status.

"Our coaches are experienced coaches. ... They do their homework, they talk to people," said Vanney, adding that there were no "red flags" in Chappell's time with the university, or from his time with the North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton, which Vanney said Chappell had attended before coming to VCSU in January 2013.

According to a report by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the shooting outside the Blue Nile Restaurant and Lounge early Saturday killed Willie J. Smith III, 22, of St. Paul.

On Tuesday, Minneapolis police got a warrant for the arrest of Cedric Chappell Jr., 21, on one count of second-degree murder and one count of second-degree attempted murder.

Valley City police, with the assistance of the Barnes County Sheriff's Office and the Stutsman County Narcotics Task Force, located Chappell on campus. He was taken into custody without incident.

Chappell was a wide receiver on the VCSU football team who was leading the Vikings through four games in both receiving yards and touchdowns, with 232 yards and five scores. He has been suspended from the university, according to the Star Tribune.