An elevator outside the Penn State police office chimed open around 10:20 Friday morning, revealing six Penn State football players who were to be charged with felonies for their alleged involvement in an off-campus fight.
Two attorneys stepped out. One held open the door to the university police office, and the other ushered six men, many of them with their heads bowed, into the office. First Tyrell Sales, then Chris Baker, Jerome Hayes, Anthony Scirrotto, Lydell Sargeant and finally Justin King filed swiftly through the door marked "Authorized Personnel Only."
Two players, rising junior safety Scirrotto and redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Baker, are charged with burglary -- a first-degree felony -- for allegedly forcing their way into a third-floor apartment at Meridian II, 646 E. College Ave., shortly after midnight on April 1. Police said the fight at the Meridian stemmed from an earlier street confrontation on the corner of High Street and College Avenue. Two students, Bernd H. Imle and Thomas D. Skalamera, who are not football players, have been charged in connection with the street altercation.
Scirrotto is also charged with criminal trespass, simple assault, harassment and two counts of criminal solicitation, while Baker is also charged with criminal trespass, simple assault, criminal mischief, disorderly conduct and harassment.
Four players face charges of criminal trespass, disorderly conduct and harassment -- rising junior cornerback King, redshirt sophomore linebacker Hayes, rising junior cornerback Sargeant and rising junior linebacker Sales.
"We're hoping for him to get exonerated, because he did go in there as a peacemaker," said Tom Sales, Tyrell's father. "He was just told a week earlier that he was going to be the starting linebacker, and he was not going to do anything to jeopardize that opportunity."
Centre County District Attorney Michael Madeira said those convicted of first-degree felony burglary generally face a prison term of 12 to 24 months. Sentences for persons convicted of criminal trespass, criminal solicitation, simple assault or criminal mischief typically range from probation to one to three months in prison, Madeira said.
The players turned themselves in at the police office at Eisenhower parking deck on Friday to be arraigned via video by Centre County District Justice Carmine Prestia.
All six players arrived together in two cars and did not answer questions on their way into the arraignment.
Baker and Scirrotto were released Friday on $50,000 unsecured bail. King, Hayes, Sargeant and Sales
were released on $10,000 unsecured bail.
Later that afternoon, football coach Joe Paterno issued a statement, saying he was "very concerned" about the charges.
The coaching staff "will determine the appropriate consequence for each player's status on the team when due process has transpired," Paterno's statement read. "Until such time, we will have no further comment regarding the situation."
The university's Office of Judicial Affairs typically interviews students who are charged with anything off campus, Penn State spokesman Bill Mahon said. Penn State's office of Judicial Affairs hasn't interviewed any players yet, Mahon said.
Ron McGlaughlin, who is representing Hayes and King, refused to comment on Friday. Baker did not have an attorney during his arraignment. Sales is represented by Stacey Parks Miller, and Scirrotto is represented by Edward Blanarik. Parks Miller and Blanarik were not present at the arraignment.
Karen Muir, who is representing Sargeant, said she is considering whether to waive the preliminary hearing.
The hearing has been scheduled for 8:30 a.m. on Friday in courtroom two at the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte.
Centre County Assistant District Attorney Steve Sloane said on Thursday that he plans to call at least 40 witnesses during the hearing.
Two Penn State students have also been charged with summary offenses for their involvement in the earlier street confrontation. Imle is charged with harassment, and Skalamera is charged with criminal mischief. Neither student is a resident of the apartment where the incident occurred. Both declined to comment Friday.
Authorities called a press conference on Friday morning to announce the charges. State College Police Chief Tom King called the four-week investigation "rather quick," but said the large number of individuals involved prolonged the process. Hayes is cited in a police press release as saying at least 15 to 20 football players gathered in a "mob" outside the apartment on April 1.
Tom King said he had contacted someone within the athletic department on Thursday to discuss the charges but declined to say whom.
A resident of the apartment said he was content with the decision.
"I was relieved that it was handled professionally," said Kevin Sanders (sophomore-political science). "Because if [there were players] there, and they didn't do anything, I wouldn't want them to be falsely charged ... It's good that the system worked."