Cape basketball star pleads ‘not guilty’ in brawl

Randy Rickards Jr.

MILFORD — A Cape Henlopen High basketball star pleaded not guilty to charges in connection with the brawl that prematurely ended the game last Thursday night.

Randy Rickards Jr., 18, of Milton, was arrested on third-degree assault and disorderly conduct misdemeanors.

Charges were filed against him after investigation into the melee that erupted as Cape Henlopen and Smyrna faced off at Milford High to determine the Henlopen Conference Northern Division boys’ title.

Police said Mr. Rickards turned himself in immediately upon notification of charges Friday.

He was released on a $1,000 unsecured bail after appearing before Justice of the Peace Court 2 Judge Scott Willey in Rehoboth Beach.

Arraignment at the Kent County Court of Common Pleas in Dover was set for March 26 at 12:30 p.m.

Milford Police Sgt. Robert Masten said Monday morning that two individuals were being sought on arrest warrants and updated information would be provided when available.

No. 1 seed Cape Henlopen (18-3 record) will host a DIAA state tournament game on Thursday at 7 p.m. against either Newark Charter (15-5) or Glasgow (13-7). Mr. Rickards’ playing status was unclear Monday when the Delaware State News requested an update from the school district.

“The district is continuing to follow our Code of Conduct and procedures for dealing with infractions as we usually do,” spokeswoman Stephanie Kichline said.

Asked in a followup if any disciplinary action had occurred, Ms. Kichline responded, “At this time I have no other information to share regarding any disciplinary action.”

Mr. Rickards, listed as 6-foot-5, 185 pounds in court documents, scored his 1,000th career point earlier this season.

Smyrna led Cape 61-34 when the contest was halted, and it then bested Woodbridge 65-49 in the Henlopen championship game the following night. The Eagles’ regular starting lineup appeared to be in place.

On Monday, Athletic Director Bill Schultz said the school would not comment on any student discipline issues. No. 3 Smyrna (19-3) hosts Woodbridge (14-6) or Indian River (14-6) in the playoffs Thursday at 7 p.m.

The Thursday contest was stopped with about four minutes remaining, and a Milford Police officer said in an arrest affidavit that he saw a police officer — identified as Pfc. Ricketts in papers — run towards the Cape Henlopen bench.

The officer followed suit and as he “got closer to the bench … quickly realized that there was a fight in the area.”

Two other police officers — identified as Cpl. Sargent and Ptlm. Lewis — were in the vicinity “attempting to separate people” as the Milford officer arrived, authorities said.

“There were several people trying to hold back a Cape Henlopen basketball player and another black male (whose name was redacted) in a black shirt,” according to the affidavit.

The Milford officer “observed the black male in the black shirt being placed on the floor and complying to Ptlm. Lewis’s commands to stop fighting,” papers said.

Then, the officer claimed to see “the Cape Henlopen player kick the black male in the black shirt in the face. At that time the black male in the black shirt got up and attempted to reengage the Cape Henlopen player.”

Two officers then reportedly restrained the black male in the black shirt and handcuffed him, police said. The man was bleeding from his mouth and had a cut on the bridge of his nose, Milford Police said.

Reviewing the footage

In papers, police said Mr. Rickards was identified through “investigation and speaking with Cape Henlopen High staff.” Police also identified the black male in the black shirt and obtained his information, papers said.

Last Friday, police said a video footage review from the school gymnasium showed Mr. Rickards allegedly “being held back by his coach as he attempts to fight several people.

“As Rickards is being held back he punches (name redacted) in the face as (name redacted) was approaching him. (Name redacted) goes after him they move out of that camera view.”

Another gym camera, police said, allegedly showed “mutual blows being thrown between (name redacted) and Randy Rickards” at approximately 8:03 p.m.

Also in documents, the officer described the video as showing “a civilian bystander and Ptlm. Lewis get a hold of (name redacted) and was able to subdue him on the floor. He stays there and complies with Ptlm. Lewis to stop fighting and just lays on the floor.”

The officer “then observes Cape Henlopen head coach attempting to restrain Rickards. Rickards gets free and kicks (name redacted) in the face as he layed on the floor causing his mouth to bleed and create a significant cut above the nose.”

In documents, police described that “[d]uring the entire altercation there were several people grabbing their small children and running away clearly alarmed by the incident in front of them.”

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