Hours after getting drafted by the New York Giants, former Washburn football player Corey Ballentine, 23, was injured in a Topeka shooting while his college teammate and fellow defensive back Dwane Simmons, 23, was killed.
Simmons and Ballentine were at a party off-campus when officers responded to reports of shots fired around 12:45 a.m. Sunday. By the time police arrived, Simmons, a junior at Washburn, was pronounced dead at the scene.
“Heartbreaking news about Dwane Simmons,” Washburn coach Craig Schurig told the Topeka Capital-Journal. “Dwane is one of the most energetic and well-liked players I have ever coached at Washburn. Dwane’s infectious smile and love for football and his teammates was truly inspirational. Our prayers of healing go out to his family, his parents, Navarro and Yasmine Simmons and Chaquilla Williams.”
Topeka Police Lt. Andrew Beightel said in a news release that Ballentine’s injury wasn’t life-threatening. Ballentine, who was the sixth-round draft pick for the Giants, was taken to the hospital in a private vehicle before police arrived.
Ballentine is expected to make a full recovery.
“We are aware of the tragic situation and continue to gather information,” the Giants said in a statement. “We have spoken to Corey, and he is recovering in the hospital. Our thoughts are with Dwane Simmons’ family, friends and teammates and the rest of the Washburn community.”
Ballentine totaled 186 tackles from 2015-18. He was also named the small college defensive player of the year in 2018.
Simmons was an incredible addition to the Ichabods’ lineup, despite suffering ACL tears to both knees in 2015. He missed the entire 2016 season and the last 10 games in 2017 but made a swift return to the season in 2018. Last year, he pulled off an 18-yard pass interception for a touchdown in the Ichabods’ 63-7 win over Missouri Southern.
After the killing, Simmons’ family gathered at his mother’s home on Sunday afternoon.
“This was a senseless murder,” Navarro Simmons, Dwane’s father, said according to the Kansas City Star. “This shattered a lot of people.”
His family members described Simmons as an energetic junior who dreamed of playing in the NFL or “anywhere that would have him.” Simmons studied mass media at Washburn in the hopes of entering sports broadcasting if he was not drafted.
Police have not released any information about a possible suspect nor have they said if anyone has been taken into custody. The investigation into the shooting remains ongoing.
Investigators are asking anyone with information to call the Topeka Police Criminal Investigation Bureau at 785-368-9400 or Shawnee Co. Crime Stoppers at 785-234-0007.