Two Allan Hancock College basketball players have been taken into custody in connection with a homicide, Santa Maria police Lt. Dan Cohen confirmed Saturday night.
Earlier Saturday, the Special Weapons and Tactics team served two search warrants in connection with the investigation into the murder of Terence Richardson, 23, of Santa Maria, Cohen said.
Police began investigating Richardson’s death Dec. 30, when he was taken to Marian Regional Medical Center with gunshot wounds. He died at the hospital.
“As a result of evidence and interviews, detectives have arrested two people in connection with this case,” Cohen said in a news release at 10 p.m. Saturday, adding that interviews were still under way.
Just before midnight, Cohen announced that Lavell White, 22, and Ali Mohammed, 19, both of Santa Maria, had been arrested and booked into Santa Barbara County Jail on murder charges. Bail was set at $1 million each.
Police have been investigating two apparently unrelated fatal shootings that occurred in late December, but had not reported making arrests in either case as of Saturday morning.
The first incident occurred early Dec. 22 in the 1000 block of West Morrison Avenue. The victim, Pedro Antonio Lainez-Lopez, 28, of Santa Maria, was found in a vehicle with multiple gunshot wounds.
Eight days later, they began investigating the death of Richardson. Police initially identified him as Terrance Richardson.
Officers initially were told the shooting had taken place minutes earlier near Jones Street and Bradley Road, which is near the northeast corner of the Hancock College campus.
A spokesman for Hancock College noted that school officials had been informed of the arrests, but not the charges the players face.
“Allan Hancock College has and will continue to cooperate fully with the Santa Maria Police Department during its investigation,” college officials said in a statement released Saturday night.
“We are disappointed and shocked by the arrest of two of our student-athletes. We are still trying to understand all of the details of this incident, but this clearly does not meet the high standards our student-athletes have maintained for many years.”
Sometime before midnight Saturday, the Hancock College Athletics Department had removed White’s and Mohammed’s player pages from the school’s website.
White, a 6-foot-6 sophomore guard, was a leading scorer for the Bulldogs. On Dec. 29, he scored 24 points and pulled down 10 rebounds in a 75-61 loss to San Jose City College in Hancock’s Holiday Classic tournament.
White transferred to Hancock over the summer from Polk State College in Winter Haven, Fla. He attended Rainier Beach High School in Seattle.
Mohammed, a 6-foot-6 freshman from Dorsey High School in Los Angeles, played power forward for the Bulldogs.
— Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.