Michael E. Russell, a former star point guard for the East Hampton High School basketball team who has been in and out of trouble over the past five years, was arrested Monday in connection with a home invasion in Worcester, MA, where he was attending college.
Russell, 22, entered an apartment with two other masked men — one of the three men reportedly had a gun, according to Worcester police. They demanded money from four Worcester Polytechnic Institute students, some of whom they ordered to get to the floor while others were moved elsewhere in the apartment, at about 1:20 a.m., police said.
Police said one victim fought back, struggling with one of the suspects, and pulled down his mask. That's when the suspects reportedly fled in a vehicle.
Detectives "worked on establishing a motive to this incident," and identified Russell as one of the suspects. He was taken into custody in his dorm room at Becker College on Monday at 4:30 a.m.
He is charged with home invasion. According to the Worcester County Sheriff's Department, Russell is being held on $5,000 bail.
Police are still searching for the two other suspects.
Russell, a junior, was playing basketball for The Hawks of Becker, but his name has already been pulled off the roster. In a recent game against Regis College, he led the team to a 58-54 win, scoring 12 points and posting 5 assists to help Becker come from behind, the college website reported.
This is not the first time Russell has found himself in trouble.
His legal woes began in 2007, when he was still in high school while he was still playing for his grandfather, famed head coach Ed Petrie. Along with two other teenagers, Russell was charged with attempting to rob a bicyclist in East Hampton. Then 17, Russell was just coming off an undefeated regular season. He was named a first-team All-Long Island player for the 2006-7 basketball team. He did not serve any jail sentence in that case.
A co-captain, he led his team to the state finals in 2008.
Just as he was about to go off to Angelina Junior College in Texas, town police arrested him on felony burglary charges in August 2008. He took a deal, and pleaded guilty to lesser charges, and was sentenced in early 2009 to one year in Suffolk County jail, according to 27East. County jail records show he was released in May, after serving about four months.
In December 2008, he was indicted in New Hampshire, accused of holding a knife to the alleged victim's face in Keene the previous September, 27East reported at that time. According to the report, days before the assault allegedly took place, Russell was picked up in New Hampshire on charges of unlawful possession of alcohol and resisting detention.
The disposition of those cases were not immediately available from the Cheshire County Superior Court, which would only confirm the cases were closed.
Then last January, he was arrested following a large fight outside of East Hampton Bowl during which officers had to use pepper spray and the stun gun portion of their Tasers to subdue the crowd. He was charged with two counts of disorderly conduct, a violation.
Reached by phone on Tuesday morning, Petrie had no comment.