The parents of slain Northwestern State football player Ronnie Caldwell Jr. and their attorneys said Friday they plan to file a lawsuit within the next two weeks against Northwestern State University, the Quad Apartment Complex, and former NSU head football coach Brad Laird.
In a press conference called “in direct response” to NSU’s Thursday announcement of Laird’s resignation, along with the decision to cancel the remaining four football games in the 2023 season, attorneys Troy Pradia and Helen Daniel-Holman said other parties could be added to the suit, which may be filed in either federal or state court.
The event was held in the offices of Cox Pradia Law Firm in Houston and was streamed live on the firm’s Facebook page, where it can be replayed.
They alleged NSU, the Quad (operated by Campus Advantage, an Austin-based management firm) and Laird “failed to protect” Caldwell, resulting in the death of the 21-year-old junior safety and business administration major on Oct. 12 in an early-morning shooting on the grounds of the Quad. The apartments are located within walking distance of the NSU campus, across La. 6 from one of the four gates providing access to the campus, at 3800 University Parkway.
The attorneys and Caldwell’s parents spoke during the press conference. Daniel-Holeman later said Laird “absolutely, horrifically failed Ronnie Jr.” because he allegedly did not act effectively after being notified that Caldwell was threatened with a gun in the apartment on the evening of Oct. 9 by John McIntosh, 27, a non-NSU student who was assigned as a roommate to Caldwell and others by Quad management.
Caldwell Sr. said after he learned of the threat from his son, he contacted Laird by text and asked Laird to remove his son from the Quad and into a hotel, until he could travel to Natchitoches that weekend. Caldwell Sr. said that did not happen and the next contact from Laird was a call two nights later, to notify him of the death of his son.
Attorneys said Laird was “at the top of their list” of culpable parties. They did not cite specific details which led them to that conclusion and noted the Natchitoches Police Department is continuing its investigation.
They said the family wanted to hold the press conference “in direct response” to Thursday’s release and specifically Laird’s announced resignation.
The university issued a statement acknowledging it was “aware” of the press conference, noting the investigation was continuing, and said “it would be inappropriate to comment or speculate at this time.”
Laird, whose resignation was immediately effective Thursday, did not comment Friday.
While McIntosh and a former NSU teammate of Caldwell’s, Maurice Campbell II, have been arrested in relation to the case, there have been no charges specific to Caldwell’s death. Both men were charged with possession of narcotics and weapons, and Campbell – who left the NSU team after four games this year, before the shooting – has an additional charge of obstruction of justice.