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NIU football player Devon Butler shot off-campus, in critical condition

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM

Northern Illinois University linebacker Devon Butler was visiting friends at an off-campus DeKalb apartment when a bullet blasted through the window and struck him in the back, police said Wednesday.

Two other NIU students were jailed for the Tuesday night shooting that critically wounded Butler — but police said Butler wasn’t the target of a drive-by attack prompted by a failed drug deal that occurred hours earlier.

The 19-year-old Butler, a defensive star on the school’s football team, was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“There was no indication Devon was aware of what transpired earlier. He just happened to be there when the drive-by happened,” DeKalb Police Chief Bill Feithen said.

Butler was transferred early Wednesday to OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center in Rockford, where he was in critical condition, NIU athletic officials said.

Charged with attempted murder in the shooting were NIU students Mark Orozco, 24, and Richard Van Arsdale III, 20, both of DeKalb.

The men allegedly targeted the first-floor apartment Butler was visiting because they believed a man who had taken marijuana from them without paying earlier that day lived there, Feithen said.

The shooting occurred about 11:56 p.m. Tuesday when a gunman fired four shots from an SUV that stopped in front of the apartment less than a mile from the NIU campus.

Both men live less than a mile from the site where the shooting occurred.

NIU Head Coach Dave Doeren spent Wednesday at the hospital with Butler, a junior from Florida, and has been in close contact with his family.

“All our thoughts and prayers as a team and as a coaching staff right now are with Devon,” Doeren said in a statement. “He’s a member of our family and the most important thing is his health.”

All NIU football team activities, including Thursday morning’s spring football practice, have been cancelled.

NIU President John Peters offered his “thoughts and prayers” to Butler and his family.

Peters said in a statement that after conferring with police he was satisifed “there remains no immediate danger for the NIU campus or surrounding community.”

The university was rocked by a 2008 campus shooting that killed five students and injured 16 others. Gunman Steven Kazmierczak, a former NIU student, killed himself after the Feb. 14 shooting spree at Cole Hall.

Last October, 18-year-old NIU freshman Antinette “Toni” Keller disappeared from a DeKalb park. Her badly burned remains were discovered two days later. A 35-year-old DeKalb man is awaiting trial on murder charges in her slaying.

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