Star high school football players arrested in armed robbery

High school football players among 4 arrested in Buford robbery

UPDATE: Charges were dropped against Colin Burress.

BUFORD, Ga. -- Two high school football stars are behind bars after a group of teenagers were arrested for armed robbery and possession of marijuana.

According to a police report obtained by 11Alive News, four Lanier High School students were arrested and charged with robbing one of their classmates.

Police responded to a robbery call in Buford on Labor Day afternoon. Several 911 calls came in reporting the robbery on Skyler Leigh Drive. "They advised that one males was screaming he was robbed and that there was a gun involved," officials said.

When police arrived, one of the Lanier High School students said his necklace was stolen from a group of kids he knew from school. He told police they also tried to take his cell phone and wallet.

A neighbor showed police cell phone video he was able to capture showing the group leaving in a maroon Grand Am, and officers quickly tracked the car and made a traffic stop.

The driver of the car was Marcko Baity, Lanier High School's lead running back. He was named offensive player of the week by The Gwinnett Daily Post. The front seat passenger was Colin Burress, another Lanier High School football standout. Another Lanier High School student, Marco Lopez was in the backseat. A fourth student, a juvenile, was also in the car.

A search of the car by police uncovered several gold chains, multiple cell phones, digital scales, and a small Ziploc bag "containing a green leafy material that based on our training and experience we recognized as marijuana." Police also located a small black pistol hidden between the taillight and the interior trunk liner. "The gun was metal and heavy, but turned out to be a realistic looking CO2-powered pellet gun," the police report noted.

According to police, Baity stated that the book bag and pellet gun were both his, and the car was his. After all four were placed in handcuffs, investigators went back to further interview the victim, Daniel Morales-Garcia.

"Morales was very vague in explaining how the robbery occurred or why he was in the neighborhood," the report states. Police say Morales changed his story, saying the group robbed him two times. The first time, they took his book bag. When they returned to rob him again, they returned his bag. "Again, he was vague in why they targeted him or why he was in the neighborhood."

When police suggested he look through his book bag again, to check to see if anything was actually stolen, police saw a jar. When he handed it to him, the officer noted "I could tell there was a residue inside of it." When the officer opened it, he "immediately recognized the pungent aroma of raw marijuana coming from the jar."

After the officer requested "the whole story," he said Morales told him a different version of events: he said he was walking through the neighborhood when the car full of Lanier High School students asked him if he had any marijuana. When he told them he only had enough for himself, they told him to get into the car. He did.

Morales said they stole his book bag, and when he demanded it back, he was punched in the face. When he still refused to get out of the car, one of the teens grabbed a pistol and "shoved it in his face."

Morales said the group later chased him and, after stealing his necklace, told him "Don't let the big guys have to handle this," referring to football players Baity and Burress. By that point, several neighbors were outside investigating the disturbance. The car took off.

Baity, Burress, and Lopez were transferred to the Gwinnett County jail. The fourth juvenile was taken to the Gainesville Youth Detention Center.

When reached for comment about whether the arrested players would be suspended, a spokesperson with the Gwinnett County School System cited their code of conduct. "According to our code of conduct for athletes, students arrested or charged with a felony are suspended from participation," the spokesperson said.

The school district's code calls athletic participation "a privilege." The consequence listed for a felony charge is "immediate suspension" until charges are dropped, school officials determine the student did not commit the crime, or a sentence is served.

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