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December 4, 2007

Players among targets in after-hours robbery

USC sophomore football players Shareece Wright and Allen Bradford said they were among the targets of a late-night robbery outside a night club early Sunday, following the Trojans' victory against UCLA.

About six to eight young men - some carrying guns, Bradford said - approached the two cars that Wright and Bradford were about to take home. The former Colton High teammates were with second-year freshman Derek Simmons, Simmons' girlfriend and five of Wright's cousins.

The cars had been parked within view of Club Tantra, in Silver Lake, where many students from USC and UCLA - including a contingent of Trojan football players - had gone Saturday night, for an 18-and-older post-game party.

Wright, who did not see a gun, said the men yelled, "This is a jack move. We're jacking you all. Give us everything you've got."

They took the keys out of Wright's cousin's Chevrolet Impala and a cell phone from the back seat, the players said.

Bradford said they asked him to hand over his valuables. The tailback said he saw the guns, but no one pointed a weapon at him.

"I was like, 'You must be (messed) up. You ain't getting none of my (stuff),'" Bradford said. "I had on my bracelet, my earrings."

The men, whom the players said they had seen in the club, did not insist further. They took only the keys and cell phone, crossed the street to their cars and drove off, Wright said.

"It kind of seemed like they didn't know what to do - like it was their first time doing it," Bradford said.

Wright, a cornerback, said he did not realize anything had been stolen until afterward.

"They said they were jacking us, but they weren't taking anything," he said. "I was like, 'Are they serious? What are they doing?'

"I thought maybe they were trying to punk us."

Wright said he had parked across the street from the club and a short ways down. Most of the club's patrons were outside waiting for valets, but they could not see the robbery because of the way the men surrounded the cars, Wright said.

Four of Wright's cousins were in the Impala, and Wright said he was waiting for Bradford and another cousin to enter his vehicle, when he saw the men pointing to them from across the street.

Wright said he told Bradford and his cousin, "You guys just shut up and get in the car."

Before they did, the men were upon them, Wright said.

"I wasn't scared," Bradford said. "If they had the gun in my face, I would probably be scared. But I wasn't scared. It wasn't frightening to me."

One of the men opened the car full of Wright's cousins, and they got out, Wright said.

"They were like, 'Take whatever,'" Wright said. "They weren't trying to talk stuff to them."

Wright said he told the men, "We're on the football team. We're not trying to trip on you guys. We're just trying to go home."

Bradford said one of them replied, "We don't care if you're on the football team, give me your stuff."

When the men took off, Wright said he began preparing to leave but saw his cousins were not doing the same. That is when he realized the keys had been taken, he said.

"They took whatever they could get," Wright said. "If they wanted to jack us, they could have stolen the cars, taken everything."

Wright said his cousins told him they had tried to call the police but kept finding themselves on hold. When they mentioned the situation to the club's security guards, they were told, "We can't help you," Wright said.

The players said no police report has been filed.

"We don't know these guys. We don't have any trace on them. I don't know anything about them," Wright said. "They took my cousin's phone, but he didn't really care. He was just happy that they didn't shoot us."

After leaving the club around 2 a.m., the players did not arrive home until about 5, after waiting for a new key to be made.

Bradford said he recognized some of the men's neck tattoos from the club. Wright said he recognized one man's bright shirt.

"They just stood out," Wright said. "They were different. You could tell they weren't really college students."

However, the players said they appeared to be college age.

"I went to sleep, woke up, still couldn't believe that it happened," Bradford said. "But you are in L.A. Things happen all the time.

"You just never think it would be you. It was."

Jonathan Kay can be reached at Jon@USCFootball.com

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