Washburn University’s joy over one of its own going to the pros quickly shifted to grief this weekend after a shooting killed a current Washburn player and wounded a former member of the team who was drafted by the New York Giants just hours earlier.
Police in Topeka, Kansas, where the university is located, said officers found 23-year-old defensive back Dwane Simmons dead when they investigated gunshots shortly before 1 a.m. Sunday. Cornerback Corey Ballentine was wounded, but his injuries were not believed to be life-threatening. Ballentine, also 23, grew up in Topeka and was picked by the Giants on Saturday in the sixth round of the NFL draft.
“This was a terrible way to end a day which should have been a day of celebration and a day to look forward to Dwane’s upcoming year at Washburn and the beginning of Corey’s professional career,” Washburn president Jerry Farley said.
Washburn coach Craig Schurig said Simmons’ death is heartbreaking. He said Simmons, a junior from Lee’s Summit, Missouri, maintained a great attitude even while battling through two knee injuries.
“Dwane is one of the most energetic and well-liked players I have ever coached at Washburn,” Schurig said. “Dwane’s infectious smile and love for and his teammates was truly inspirational.”
Farley said both Simmons and Ballentine have been great representatives of the university.
Police did not immediately release any additional details about the circumstances of the shooting.
It’s not yet clear how Ballentine’s injuries from the shooting might affect his football career. The Giants said team representatives spoke to Ballentine on Sunday in the hospital.