Gun controversy triggers memories for football player

Lavante Page still remembers that day in September 2009. It was the first football game of the season, Florida A&M at home against Delaware State University, and the then-sophomore running back from Atlanta got his first start for the Rattlers.

He was leaving the Galimore-Powell Fieldhouse after a postgame press conference when all of a sudden chaos broke out.

“I remember that people just started running,” Page said. “And it felt like something hit my arm.”

A bullet struck Page in his left forearm, but that was the least of his worries.

“By the time I put two and two together and realized that I was shot, I was just trying to tell the rest of my family to get down on the ground in order to keep them safe.” 

Page tried to protect his mother and grandmother, but he couldn’t find his younger cousin.

“I was in the ambulance on my way to get treated when one of the officials said that we had to stop to pick up another victim,” Page said. “I was hoping that it was not my cousin since we could not find him. To my surprise, it was.”

Page later learned that his younger cousin ran near the Al Lawson Jr. Multipurpose Center.

“All I saw was blood all over his face,” Page said. “He had been shot, too.”

His cousin had been shot in the cheek, and the bullet also went through his lip.

Page, now a senior, said he recalled officers telling him that the two young men who were shooting got into a verbal altercation at school earlier and began shooting when they saw each other on campus that day.

“That issue was involving people who were from outside the university,” said Darius Jefferson Sr., a FAMU crime prevention officer. “They were two high school students who had an issue with each other and it trickled over when they were attending the FAMU football game. That is when the shooting occurred.”

Jefferson said it’s a big issue anytime a weapon or violence jeopardizes the safety of faculty, staff and especially students. According to the National Council of State Legislatures, Florida is one of 21 states that ban guns on college campuses.

“There has not been an enormous amount of violence on campus recently because they know that we, the police department, are actively here, and we try to make sure that everyone who’s here, other than students, has a relevant existence on this campus.”

The FAMU Police Department denied requests for the police report for this incident because the individuals involved were minors.