On Tuesday morning, Rutgers announced that starting cornerback Max Melton and backup cornerback Chris Long have been suspended. The program released the following statement from head coach Greg Schiano.
“I was informed that Chris Long and Malachi Melton were taken into police custody early this morning as a result of an incident involving a paint ball gun. Both players have been suspended immediately.”
No other details were provided by Rutgers.
Per reporting by James Kratch of NJ Advance Media, the two players were charged with “aggravated assault and possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes.”
Later Tuesday, a statement was released from the Rutgers Police Department and reported by Kratch and Keith Sargeant regarding the incident:
“On Monday, September 20, 2021, at approximately 10:00 PM, the Rutgers University Police Department (RUPD) responded to the area of Livingston Campus in the township of Piscataway for the report of three student victims that were struck with paintballs discharged from a motor vehicle,” Rutgers police chief Kenneth Cop said in a statement provided to NJ Advance Media. “The three victims sustained minor injuries and declined further medical attention on scene. An investigation completed by the RUPD resulted in the arrest of two male suspects on September 21, 2021.”
The court date is set for November 4 in Middlesex County Superior Court.
Kratch and Sargeant included details on the injuries suffered by the three victims:
“One victim was hit in the right elbow at close range, according to probable cause affidavits obtained by NJ Advance Media. Another victim was hit in the left arm and lower back and the third was hit in the lower abdomen, all at close range. The first and third victims suffered bleeding as a result of the incident, according to the affidavits, while the second victim had bruising and welts.”
Melton has had a great start to his second season as he has two interceptions, one fumble recovery and a blocked punt in addition to eight tackles and four pass break ups in three games.
Long has also played in all three games this season in limited action and has not recorded any statistics.
Secondary depth was an issue before these suspensions, so this is a major area of concern moving forward. A potential replacement for Melton is Patrice Rene, who has been injured and hasn’t played yet this season. While no update has been provided on his status, Schiano did indicate last week that he was “getting better” and “healing up.”
Rutgers will face No. 19 Michigan on the road in a battle of unbeaten teams this Saturday, September 25 at 3:30 p.m. ET airing live on ABC.