Western Carolina University football player Toren Gerald Gordon, 21, is in the Haywood County Jail charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of an Asheville man outside Thunder Ridge nightclub in Maggie Valley on Dec. 7.
Gordon is being held under a $500,000 secured bond and is scheduled to appear in Superior Court Jan. 23.
Gordon was arrested in Gaston County Dec. 10 and was brought to Haywood County to face charges in the death of 29-year-old Corey Jermon Matthews, who died Dec. 8 at Haywood Regional Medical Center from a single gunshot wound to the neck.
According to Maggie Valley Police Chief Saralyn Price, the shooting was connected to an argument between two groups of people which began inside Thunder Ridge and moved to the parking lot around 2 a.m.
Price said that shots were fired and Matthews was struck.
Gene McAbee, director of WCU Public Safety, said those involved in the altercation were from two different neighborhoods in Asheville.
An affidavit filed in Jackson County states that witnesses say they saw Gordon firing a handgun in the parking lot of the nightclub the same morning Matthews sustained a fatal gunshot wound there.
Police recovered a 9 mm handgun outside Thunder Ridge soon after Matthews was shot, and Gordon informed a detective that his fingerprints would be found on the weapon, the affidavit states.
The document also states that a witness reported seeing Gordon carrying a black-handled handgun at a Cullowhee restaurant hours before the shooting.
Investigators filed a probable-cause affidavit the week of Dec. 14, which implies that Gordon may have carried a handgun, including on WCU’s campus, prior to Dec. 7.
A witness reported seeing Gordon carrying a silver-colored handgun with a black handle at a party on or near the WCU campus within the last six months. Another reported Gordon had shown off the weapon in a WCU dorm last year, the affidavit states.
Police recovered 11 shell casings outside the nightclub, according to the affidavit, however, the affidavit does not reveal if any of them came from the 9 mm handgun investigators recovered. It also provides no details about the argument that investigators believe led to Matthew’s death or those involved in the altercation.
Gordon has no criminal record that suggests he is unruly. His local arrest record shows only a 2000 conviction in Jackson County for disorderly conduct on campus. WCU Athletic Director Jeff Compher said Gordon’s arrest has had a negative impact on the Catamount football team.
“I think it has had a negative effect on the football team’s reputation,” said Compher. “Unfortunately, it only takes one or two members on any team to create a negative image.
“The members of the football team exhibit excellent behavior, are good citizens and students. After knowing Toren for almost two years now, I had never had a problem with him.”
WCU junior and football player Ahmed Green said Gordon had great grades and is overall a great person.
“I would never have expected anything like this from him,” said Green. “Considering the situation, he had to defend himself.
“I feel that the media handled it in the wrong way. They didn’t know all of the details, and they just assumed that a fight broke out and Toren shot someone. They also said that the guy who was shot was an innocent bystander. He was anything but. Witnesses said the victim stood no more than 10 feet from Gordon. An innocent bystander would not be that close to the chaos.”