A suspect was charged in the shooting death of Dwane Simmons and injury to New York Giants draft pick Corey Ballentine.
Francisco Alejandro Mendez, 18, was charged late Friday with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder and five counts of aggravated robbery by the Shawnee County (Kansas) District Attorney’s office.
Washburn University head coach Craig Schurig told the Capital-Journal:
“It’s a good day; it feels good. It’s nice to get some initial closure, and the charges filed are significant. Big thanks to the Topeka Police Department and the detectives and District Attorney Kagay for all their hard work. It feels good that justice is starting to come through.”
At the time, Topeka policy responded to shots of gunfire at 12:45 a.m. There they found Simmons, a defensive back at Washburn, dead. Ballentine was shot in the buttocks and transported to a local hospital.
The shooting occurred just hours after the Giants had selected Ballentine with the No. 180 overall pick in the sixth-round of the 2019 NFL draft.
One month later, Ballentine was able to participate in Giants OTA practice. He appeared in 11-on-11 drills and individual drills with the third-team defense.
“He’s doing what he can do,” Giants coach Pat Shurmur told NorthJersey.com. “He looked good moving around and he’s getting better each day.”
Schurig said he was able to speak with Ballentine about the charges filed, helping bring some closure to the rookie.
“You could tell there was a relief in his voice,” Schurig said. “It just helps — it helps to know that the people responsible are starting to get caught. And this is a big step. It was nice to be able to communicate with him some really good news. He’s got a lot on his mind, obviously, and this definitely goes toward helping the healing process, no doubt.”
Ballentine won the 2018 small college defensive player of the year award and was one of three Division II players invited to the Senior Bowl.
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