DA looks into 'conduct' of New Mexico State players, staff

A local district attorney's office is investigating the "conduct" of New Mexico State men's basketball players and staffers in connection with a high-profile shooting last month that involved forward Mike Peake.

Peake, a 21-year-old junior on the men's basketball team, shot and killed Brandon Travis, a 19-year-old University of New Mexico student, on Nov. 19, in what police have called a self-defense situation. Peake, who was suspended indefinitely by NMSU this week, was also shot and underwent multiple surgeries at a local hospital before he was discharged.

"The Bernalillo County District Attorney's Office is actively working with the New Mexico State Police to investigate the conduct of the New Mexico State University staff and players," Lauren Rodriguez, a spokeswoman for the Bernalillo County District Attorney's Office, said in a statement. "We are still continuing to receive evidence regarding this case and will evaluate the materials as they are submitted."

An official with New Mexico State police said last month that the NMSU team bus was stopped on the highway by officers and then released as part of the investigation surrounding the shooting, which occurred at a University of New Mexico dorm around 3 a.m. local time that day. The official did not offer specifics on why the team bus had been stopped by police.

The school announced Tuesday that it had hired an outside firm to investigate the incident and that it would be "transparent" with its findings.

Head coach Greg Heiar and his staff have all continued to coach since the Nov. 19 incident, which led to the postponement of the team's rivalry game against New Mexico that day.

New Mexico State said players Marchelus Avery, Issa Muhammad and Anthony Roy were all suspended for one game and will miss Wednesday night's matchup at Santa Clara.

"No action has been taken against any coaches at this time," Justin Bannister, a university spokesman, told ESPN when asked about possible discipline for the NMSU coaching staff.

Per police, a 17-year-old girl conspired with Travis and two others to "lure" Peake to the New Mexico campus where he was assaulted. A video of the incident released on Wednesday showed Peake running and firing a weapon after three men approached him and began to attack him.

According to police, Travis shot at Peake who then fired the gun he was carrying that night toward Travis, striking and killing him. The animosity between the two parties stems from an earlier altercation at a New Mexico State-New Mexico football game in October, according to police.

The 17-year-old girl and Jonathan Smith, a 19-year-old who was one of the men with Travis that night, have both been arrested and charged in connection with the shooting.

Peake has not been charged.

New Mexico State University officials have said that possessing a weapon on campus or at a university-affiliated event is a violation of the school's student code of conduct. Mario Moccia, NMSU's athletic director, told reporters on Monday that Peake would be suspended until the conclusion of the police and school investigations surrounding the incident. He would not comment about Peake's enrollment status with the school.

"Mike is suspended from our basketball team until the completion of the university's investigation and the investigation of the proper authorities," Moccia said this week. "When those investigations will be complete, I can't say."

On Wednesday night, Bannister responded to a series of questions from ESPN about the ongoing investigation around the fatal shooting.

He said Peake's suspension is tied to his possession of a firearm.

"There were some specific infractions by Mike Peake that athletic director Mario Moccia felt warranted an indefinite suspension, including bringing a gun on a trip," Bannister said via e-mail. "While we can't get into specifics of Mike's health, it was felt to be more appropriate to wait until he was out of the hospital [to suspend him]."

Bannister also said the school does not intend to postpone or cancel any games amid the police and school investigations "at this time."

"A timeframe has not yet been set on [the university's investigation]," he added. "The focus will be on making sure we are doing this right."

Following his team's 77-35 win over Simon Fraser, a Division II school, on Monday, Heiar said he was not allowed to comment because of the ongoing investigations surrounding the fatal shooting or his team's or staff's actions after the incident.