Three 21-year-old Madison men were arrested Tuesday on tentative charges of being a party to substantial battery for the Aug. 1 attack on University of Wisconsin running back Montee Ball.
Madison police arrested Deonte J. Wilson, Robert A. Wilks and Wendell J. Venerable. Police said they believe the men were involved in the 2:15 a.m. attack, which occurred in the 500 block of University Avenue as Ball was walking home from a Downtown bar and restaurant.
Ball sustained a concussion in the attack and sat out the first week of preseason camp. Ball, a senior, is considered a candidate for the Heisman Trophy, and the attack and subsequent investigation have received national attention.
Investigators said the attack on Ball might have been precipitated by a fight at a July 27 house party that involved UW-Madison students, members of the Badgers football team and other people authorities said were not affiliated with the UW Athletics Department. Ball said he was at the party but was not involved in the fight.
Police on Tuesday night would not say whether the three men who were arrested were at the July 27 party or involved in the fight, which resulted in one person being taken to the hospital.
While only three men were arrested Tuesday, the original police report for the incident showed five men might have been involved in the attack. Police did not indicate Tuesday whether more arrests are expected, though the incident report on the arrests said detectives have been following leads on several suspects.
Ball told his teammates earlier this month that he had made a last-second decision to go out with a couple of friends on one of the final nights before the start of pre-season camp, and that he spent about two hours out. Before the attack he was at State Street Brats and had left the restaurant and was walking home on University Avenue behind two friends when he was jumped, beaten and kicked in the head and body.
The attack, Ball said, happened within sight of his apartment after he had split up with his friends. He said one of the attackers yelled his name and he turned around and was struck in the cheek. He said he blacked out and that his next memory was of being in the hospital.
As for the July 27 fight at the house party, Ball said he went to the apartment with friends. He said he was visiting with friends in the apartment’s living room when the fight broke out. He said he wasn’t involved and left after the apartment’s resident cleared out the people involved in the altercation.
University of Wisconsin football coach Bret Bielema said he spoke with players, including Ball, about their possible involvement in the house fight. He said he is satisfied Ball was not involved in the fight. The first week of August, Bielema announced two scholarship players were not on the camp roster though he would not say whether their absence was related to the fight. He said he would await the results of the police investigation before deciding whether further action is necessary.
The UW Athletics Department declined to comment Tuesday night.