The 20-year-old son of former NBA player Nick Van Exel has been charged with capital murder in the death of a close friend, Dallas police announced Thursday.
Nickey Maxwell Van Exel was arrested Wednesday night and jailed on $1 million bond in the death of Bradley Bassey Eyo, 23. Police said Eyo was found on Sunday with a gunshot wound to his upper body near Lake Ray Hubbard, on the outskirts of Dallas.
Authorities later determined that Eyo was killed at a home in the Dallas suburb of Garland and that his body was dumped near the lake, police said.
Paul Johnson, the younger Van Exel’s attorney, told The Associated Press that his client told police he shot Eyo, a longtime friend and neighbor, while the two were engaged in “horseplay” with a shotgun. He said Van Exel didn’t know the gun, which belonged to his stepfather, was loaded.
After the shooting, Van Exel “panicked” and moved the body, Johnson said. Van Exel also tossed the gun in a creek, and it has yet to be found, he said.
“It’s a real sad situation,” Johnson said. “Emotions are running high, and, obviously, we recognize that some very bad decisions were made on how he responded.”
Johnson said he was contacted by Van Exel’s family on Tuesday and immediately started working with authorities. The younger Van Exel has not yet appeared in court or entered a plea.
The elder Van Exel played for the Dallas Mavericks from 2001 to 2003 as part of an NBA career that spanned 13 seasons and six teams. He is now working as player development instructor for the Atlanta Hawks, a job he began in September.
A call to the Hawks’ media relations department by the AP wasn’t immediately returned.
Johnson said he spoke to the elder Van Exel and that he and others who knew Eyo were deeply saddened.
“Bradley was like part of the family,” Johnson said.