UPDATE: 3 arrested in Montee Ball attack investigation - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: 3 arrested in Montee Ball attack investigation

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Wendell Venerable Wendell Venerable
Deonte Wilson Deonte Wilson
Robert Wilks Robert Wilks

MADISON (WKOW) -- Madison police have arrested three people in connection with an attack on Badgers running back Montee Ball.

Officials say Wendell J. Venerable, Deonte J. Wilson, and Robert A. Wilks were taken into custody on Tuesday afternoon. All three are 21 years old and are from Madison. Police say each has been tentatively charged with party to a crime of substantial battery. All three men are UW-Madison students.

Authorities say the attack on Ball took place on August 1 as Ball was walking down University Avenue. Ball suffered a concussion and other injuries, but is expected to play in Saturday's Badgers football opener against Northern Iowa.

Madison police spokesperson Joel DeSpain says records show videotape and a witness' persistence helped lead to these suspects.

"A witness specifies in one probable case affidavit there were five people, and followed some people," said DeSpain. "There is surveillance video that is gleaned by detectives in various points in time."

DeSpain says the investigation continues to try to identify others possibly connected to the attack.

Authorities say the attack on Ball may have been retaliation for a fight a few days earlier at a party, with Ball in attendance, even though officials say Ball was not take part of the fight. Sources with knowledge of the investigation say the July 27 party was at the Lucky apartments, and Venerable was punched at the party and briefly hospitalized. DeSpain says the events of that party remain under review.

Records show Venerable is a student on scholarship. 

Bob Moore says he's served as a mentor for Wilson, and says his alleged involvement in the attack would be completely out of character.

"He's a really, really outstanding young man," says Moore. "Not the kind of individual who would do anything like this, attack anybody. And to attack anybody without any provocation, (it) just wouldn't happen."

A message posted on Wilson's Facebook page on the day of his Tuesday's arrest echoes that sentiment: "I have been non-violent for WELL over a year now, yet they are trying to crucify me because 'somebody has to take the blame."

Moore tells 27 News Venerable's status as a suspect is peculiar. "I think he was attacked a little more brutally than Montee Ball. He's arrested right now, Montee isn't, said Moore"

DeSpain says the attack on Ball involved undisputed brutality. "He doesn't know a lot about what happened because he was knocked out."

Authorities say other football players also attended the July 27 party. Earlier this month, UW head football coach Bret Bielema suspended two players from the team for a time, but declined to confirm whether the suspensions were tied to party actions. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported criminal charges are unlikely be to lodged in connection to the party fight, but lesser,  disorderly conduct citations may be issued to partygoers.

Authorities say one or more of the students may appear in Dane County Court on Thursday for a hearing on bail.

DeSpain says probable cause affidavits show one suspect maintains he did nothing to Ball. DeSpain notes the offense of party to a crime of substantial battery allows someone to be held responsible if they participated in the act, even if they did not deliver the blows.

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