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Wake Forest basketball assistant Jamill Jones threw fatal punch at tourist, police say

Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Wake Forest assistant men's basketball coach Jamill Jones has been arrested and charged with third-degree assault in connection with the death of a 35-year-old Florida man who was in New York City for a wedding.

Jones turned himself into police Thursday afternoon and was arraigned Thursday night at Queens County Criminal Court. Jones was released on his own recognizance and was ordered to return to court Oct. 2. 

"We have just been made aware of this matter and we are gathering information," a Wake Forest spokesman said. "We will make a further statement after we learn more about the matter."

On Friday the New York City medical examiner officially ruled Sandor Szabo's death as a homicide. The official cause of death is "blunt impact injury of head with brain injury."

According to police, Jones allegedly punched Szabo in the face following a confrontation in the early morning hours Sunday that began when Szabo knocked on Jones' car window, thinking the vehicle was his Uber ride.

Szabo lost consciousness when his head hit the pavement, and he was brought to an area hospital in critical condition. He was treated for fractures to the left side of his face and the rear of his skull, along with bleeding of the brain. He was taken off life support Tuesday afternoon.

"It's an unfortunate and tragic incident," Jones' attorney, Alain Massena, told ESPN. "Mr. Jones and his family, their deepest condolences go out to the Szabo family. We simply hope that the public gives Mr. Jones an opportunity to litigate this matter in the court and not in the press."

Massena said Jones is cooperating fully with the investigation. A third-degree assault charge is a misdemeanor in New York.

The investigation is ongoing, and charges against Jones could be upgraded, police said. 

Jones is set to begin his second season on Danny Manning's Wake Forest staff after joining in the spring of 2017. He also spent time as an assistant coach at UCF, VCU and Florida Gulf Coast going back to 2013. Jones started his coaching career as an assistant coach with the Team Takeover AAU program after graduating from Arkansas Tech in 2008.

Szabo was "super outgoing, friendly, and an incredibly smart businessman," his digital marketing company, What If Media Group, wrote in a Facebook post.

"He was always upbeat, positive, kind and caring," the post continued. "He was fun to be with, interesting, and always interested. He was a really good person."

Szabo, who lived in Boca Raton with his brother, always had a bright smile and shared a love of fishing, cooking and family, the company said.

"His beautiful spirit and his love of life will remain with us," the company said in the Facebook post. "We are going to miss him dearly."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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