The family of late Northwestern State football player Ronnie Caldwell revealed it is planning a lawsuit and alleged that the school and former head coach Brad Laird “failed” Caldwell before his shooting death.
Northwestern State announced last week it was canceling the remainder of its season and that Laird was resigning in the wake of Caldwell’s death.
Caldwell was shot and killed at his apartment on Oct. 12.
The specific circumstances of Caldwell’s death remain unclear as it remains under investigation.
Tony Pradia, an attorney representing Caldwell’s family, held a news conference Friday.
“We’re not going to get into the details of what the lawsuit would entail, but we can say this, that the university, the coach, they failed Ronnie Jr.,” Pradia said, according to ESPN.
The lawsuit is expected to name the school, Laird and Caldwell’s apartment complex.
Caldwell’s family said in a statement that the player had to move apartments after his had mold in it, and that his new roommate in the same building, John McIntosh, pulled a gun on him on Oct. 9.
“Ronnie’s father immediately sent a text to Northwestern State Head Football Coach Brad Laird alerting him that he needed help and that Ronnie’s roommate had pulled a gun on him,” the statement said.
“Coach Laird replied with a phone call assuring the family that he would take immediate action and move Ronnie to a safe location. Nothing was done, the family heard no updates from the University.
“The next call the family received was from Coach Brad Laird telling us that Ronnie had been murdered.”
McIntosh, the roommate, was arrested and charged with possession of a firearm in the presence of a controlled dangerous substance.
He has since been released on bond.
Maurice Campbell, a teammate of Caldwell’s, was arrested in connection with the investigation of the death and charged on Oct. 20 with obstruction of justice, possession of a firearm in the presence of a controlled dangerous substance and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.
Neither has been charged or named a suspect in Caldwell’s death.
“All I have to say is this could have been prevented,” Caldwell’s father, Ronnie Sr., said at Friday’s news conference. “I called the coach. I texted him and asked him, ‘Please move my son. Somebody pulled a gun. I need you to move him. Get him away from there. Get him in a hotel until I can get there. I’ll be there this weekend.’
“Next thing I know, the next phone call I get from this man is at 2:07 a.m. and my son is deceased. Now, how do you feel being a man like me? I call myself being protector. I’ve been protecting my whole family all their life and I get this call and all I asked him to do is to move my son. What’s so hard?”
Caldwell, a junior who transferred from Tyler Junior College in Texas, had been injured for most of this season, but was working with the coaching staff to help his fellow defensive backs.
Laird resigned Thursday.
“Due to the loss of Ronnie and the emotional burden it has caused me, I don’t feel I can give my all to these players or this program,” he said in a statement.
“Any coach will tell you that their players become like family, so the loss of Ronnie was like losing a son. I love this program and this university and I know it will persevere and move forward with the competitive spirit that is at the core of our DNA.”
Pradia, the Caldwell’s family attorney, refuted the sentiment of the statement.
“If he was like a son, he would’ve protected him,” Pradia said. “All his father wanted was his son to be moved to a safer location.”