No charges filed against Fresno State basketball player Joseph Hunter following weapons arrest

·3 min read
ERIC PAUL ZAMORA/ezamora@fresnobee.com

The Fresno County District Attorney’s Office did not file any charges against Fresno State basketball player Joseph Hunter following an arrest on felony weapons charges, though two of the four men who were arrested following a traffic stop on Tuesday night will face felony counts.

“Based upon a review of the police reports submitted to our office, there was one firearm located in the vehicle that was occupied by four individuals,” a DA’s Office spokesperson said in an update Thursday. “Charges were filed against the driver and the person that possessed the firearm within the vehicle.”

The driver of the vehicle stopped was Qiwan Whittiker, 25. Isaiah Andre Pirtle, 23, was in possession of the firearm, an unregistered AR-15 style .223 rifle with a 30-round magazine with 20 live rounds of ammunition.

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In a criminal complaint filed on Thursday, Whittiker faces a felony charge of possession of an assault weapon, a felony charge of possession of a firearm by a felon and a felony charge of having a concealed firearm in a vehicle. Pirtle faces a felony charge of possession of an assault weapon, a felony charge of possession of a firearm by a felon and a felony charge of carrying a loaded firearm in public.

Whittiker had a felony conviction in 2016 in Fresno Superior Court for carrying a loaded firearm in public. Pirtle had a 2019 conviction in Fresno Superior Court on a felony burglary charge.

Hunter, according to the Fresno Police, was arrested on charges of a concealed weapon in a vehicle, carrying a loaded firearm in public and resisting arrest. He did not have a police record prior to the arrest on Tuesday and a suspension after it has been lifted, according to the athletics department.

“Fresno State athletics has been informed that at this time no charges will be filed against our student-athlete. The student-athlete will resume team activities,” it said in a statement.

Hunter was released from the Fresno County Jail just after 7 p.m., according to jail records, about 48 hours after his arrest.

Whittiker had prior arrests for possession of stolen vehicle, possession of a concealed weapon in a vehicle and carrying a loaded firearm in public. Pirtle’s history includes arrests for grand theft from person, burglary, vandalism, theft, robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, obtaining money by false pretenses, parole violation and resisting arrest.

Like Hunter, Vonkell Damar Holmes, 22, was arrested but not charged. His history includes arrests for theft, carrying a concealed weapon, grand theft, possession of ammunition by a prohibited person, possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, participating in a criminal street gang, child cruelty, possession of marijuana for sale and robbery.

The relationship between the men wasn’t immediately clear.

Unless Fresno Police investigators develop and forward additional information to the DA’s Office, no charges will be filed against Hunter or Holmes.

The four men were arrested by Fresno Police officers on Tuesday at North Bengston Avenue and West Ashlan Avenue around 7:15 p.m.

When officers initiated a technical traffic stop, Whittiker remained in the vehicle while the other three fled on foot. Officers witnessed the suspects exit a yard in the 1800 block of West Buckingham Way, and when contacted two of them complied with the officers’ orders while the third continued running and eventually was apprehended with the assistance of a police helicopter.

Officers found the unregistered AR-15 style .223 rifle in plain view in the rear passenger seat, according to Fresno Police.