Idaho players started Atofau incident

A PICTURE VERY different from published reports is emerging in the case of Washington State football player Jamal Atofau's recent arrest. Idaho football players were not only involved in the incident surrounding Atofau's fourth-degree assault charge, but instigated the melee by striking one of Atofau's younger brothers in the face with a liquor bottle.

"What the media is reporting is not accurate, and it's also not the complete story either, not by a long shot. We have additional information that has not been reported. This is also something that is still ongoing, the police are still investigating," Cougar coach Paul Wulff told earlier this week.

He would not offer details, but has learned the following from two reliable sources with knowledge of the situation:

  • There was a fight on Saturday involving Idaho and WSU football players that began when an Idaho player struck one of Atofau's brothers in the face with a bottle.
  • Atofau and another WSU football player had only recently arrived at the location -- a private residence in Pullman -- before the brawl began. Atofau and the other WSU player had come to pick up Atofau's brothers who were in town visiting. Atofau had not been drinking.
  • A 19-year old female was struck during the ensuing melee. Two witnesses, Pullman Police commander Chris Tennant told reporters, identified Atofau as the striker. But sources tell CF.C those witnesses were from the Idaho group, and that there are other witnesses who say Atofau was not the one who struck the 19-year old female, including the woman herself and that she is unsure of who struck her.
  • Later that night, when both groups were in the emergency room at Pullman Regional Hospital, the Idaho players started taunting the WSU players. This included the flashing of gang signs by the Idaho players. A heated exchange ensued.
  • Atofau's mother Janet has retained the services of an attorney for her sons with one intention being to challenge the arrest charge.

    When reached for comment by CF.C, Tennant said the police investigation is ongoing.

    "We're getting multiple stories from multiple sources and I can't say which story is true," said Tennant.

    "We were called to the hospital to assist with some disorderly subjects who were in the emergency room. But I couldn't tell you who they were or what affiliation they were," said Tennant.

    Efforts to reach Idaho coach Robb Akey before press time were unsuccessful.

    Atofau is a WSU freshman. The Cougar safety redshirted this past season following a star-studded career at Bellevue High.

    The identities of the Vandal players, or why they were in Pullman, have not been made public.

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