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Arizona State Running Back Held in Slaying
TEMPE, Ariz. — Arizona State running back Loren Wade was arrested Saturday on suspicion of first-degree murder in the shooting death of a former ASU football player.
Police said Brandon Falkner, 25, of Tempe was shot in the head about 2:30 a.m. Saturday as he sat in his car outside Club CBNC, a Scottsdale nightspot.
Scottsdale police detective Sam Bailey said Falkner and Wade exchanged words before the shot was fired.
Wade was driving a car with three others inside when he went to the club to pick up his girlfriend, Haley van Blommestein, who played soccer at Arizona State until 2003.
Bailey said Wade saw her standing next to Falkner’s car, got out of his car, exchanged words with Falkner and fired once.
Falkner tried to drive away, but crashed into another car, then hit a tree. He was pronounced dead at Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn.
“From everything I’ve heard, they didn’t know each other,” Bailey said. “He may have been in the wrong place, at the wrong time, talking to the wrong person.”
Wade was arrested by Maricopa County sheriff’s deputies who were working as security guards at the club.
“We have more than enough witnesses,” Bailey said.
Football coach Dirk Koetter canceled the team’s first spring practice in pads on Saturday.
“This is a tragedy that has shocked and saddened our entire community,” university president Michael Crow said. “ASU has made its counseling services available this weekend to the entire football team and to any other student who feels that he or she needs to talk about this situation.”
Practice had been under way about 30 minutes when Koetter learned why Wade was missing. He called the players together, told them what happened and dismissed the team.
“I think shock is the best word,” he said about their reaction.
“Our next scheduled practice is Monday,” Koetter said. “We’re going to have a team meeting at 7 o’clock where we can touch base with the players and, again, have a crisis team on hand. There’s going to be new developments, obviously, between now and Monday.
“Everything moving forward on our spring practice is up in the air at this point, because there’s not a precedent here.”
Smith equated the slaying to a death in the family.
“You’re trying to get somewhere I’m not at emotionally,” he said about questions on screening recruited athletes. “I’m not there to sit back and reflect and say, ‘OK, we’re going to do this in the future.’ We’re just dealing with this, and we have feelings.”
Falkner, a defensive back, was a three-year letterman who saw action in 26 games for the Sun Devils from 1999 to 2001.
Wade, 21, from Los Angeles, started the first three games for Arizona State as a sophomore last season, then was suspended for the remainder of the schedule while the school investigated whether he received improper benefits from a university employee.
The university found that an assistant in the school’s compliance and recruitment department put her name on a line of credit to pay an overdue utility bill for Wade. The compliance officer was fired.
Wade was cleared to return to the team and participated in all three non-pads practices last week. Koetter arrived at practice Saturday morning knowing that Wade was in trouble but not having full details.
As a redshirt freshman in 2003, Wade broke the school freshman rushing record and finished fifth in the Pac-10 with 773 yards and an average of 5.7 yards per carry.