McNeill Suspends Three Freshmen Indefinitely

GREENVILLE, N.C. — Following an incident Tuesday afternoon, fifth-year ECU coach Ruffin McNeill indefinitely suspended freshmen Yiannis Bowden, Curtis Burston III and Markel Winters.

Three East Carolina freshmen football players, linebacker Yiannis Bowden, receiver Curtis Burston and linebacker Markel Winters, have been suspended indefinitely from all team activities effective immediately following a BB gun citation according to an announcement from head coach Ruffin McNeill on Wednesday.

"One of the benchmarks of our program is that our players will be held accountable for their actions on and off the field, in the classroom and in the community," McNeill said. "It is with this commitment in mind that I have suspended these individuals indefinitely for their actions that were irresponsible and dangerous. They have acknowledged their mistake and now part of our job is to help them learn from this situation.”

The decision came after McNeill and ECU athletics officials were initially made aware of the charge by the Greenville Police Department on Tuesday afternoon. Here is Greenville PD’s release from Tuesday.

At approximately 1:30pm Greenville police officers conducted a known-risk stop at the intersection of 5th Street and Brownlea Drive. Witnesses described seeing the three males inside the vehicle firing weapons toward the ground as they were driving along 3rd street. Neighbors quickly alerted police and GPD officers stopped the vehicle within minutes. Three people were immediately taken into custody.

Bowden, 18, Burston III, 19, and Winters, 19, were all cited for discharging a weapon within city limits and released from police custody. Upon further investigation, officers discovered the three weapons in their possession were BB guns. Although the individuals did not appear to aim at anyone, the attached photo demonstrates just how easy it would be for a citizen or law enforcement officer to mistake the BB guns for a real weapon. The gun at the bottom of the row is a GPD department-issued weapon. The three others are the BB guns recovered from the traffic stop earlier today.

The incident prompted a lockdown at Wahl-Coates Elementary School for approximately 10 minutes this afternoon. There is no connection between the school and the vehicle stop. The lockdown was simply a precautionary measure. There is no threat to the public at this time.

The three players have participated on East Carolina's scout team so far this fall, but did not experience action in the first five games.

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