Fresno State men’s basketball player arrested after police find a semi-automatic rifle

By Valentina Saldaña, Sports Editor

Men’s basketball player Joseph Hunter was arrested after police officers found a weapon and a loaded firearm during a traffic violation stop on Tuesday, May 17, as reported by the Fresno Bee

Hunter, 19, was booked into Fresno County jail today at 12:54 a.m. on four felony counts and one misdemeanor, according to the Fresno Sheriff’s website. He was charged with possession of an assault weapon; carrying a concealed loaded firearm on person and in a vehicle; carrying a loaded firearm in public; and a misdemeanor of obstructing a public officer. 

Fresno State Athletics provided a statement and said Hunter has been suspended from all team activities. 

“Fresno State Athletics was made aware of this incident, and we are working closely with campus officials to ensure that applicable protocols are followed during this time. Our priority is the safety of our students and campus community. This case is being handled by the Fresno Police Department. We will cooperate with authorities as needed,” Athletics said in the statement. 

Last night, at 7:16 p.m., the Fresno Police Department pulled over Hunter and three other individuals near North Bengston Avenue and West Ashlan Avenue. 

The driver, Qiwan Terry Whittiker, remained inside the vehicle while the other three fled. Two of the three complied with officers’ orders after they ran. The third continued to run until he was caught by officers with the help of a police helicopter, according to the Fresno Bee. 

Whittiker, 25, Isaiah Andre Pirtle, 23, and Vonkell Damar Holmes, 22, have been booked into Fresno County jail. 

Fresno PD also found an unregistered and unserialized AR-15 style .223 rifle with 20 live rounds, according to the Fresno Bee. 

In California, possessing a semi-automatic weapon can be a year sentence in county jail, and a firearm without a serial number is an additional year with a $1,000 fine.

Hunter came out of San Joaquin Memorial High School as a 4-star recruit, but sat out last season due to surgery on an injured thumb. He was also named Mountain West Preseason Freshman of the Year for the 2022-23 season. 

His bail is set at $50,000 for one felony charge and $100,000 for the other three. The bail for the misdemeanor charge is set at $10,000.

Correction May 17, 2023:

In a previous version of this article, the wrong AP style reference for a semi-automatic rifle was used in the title.