A Washburn University defensive back was killed in a shooting Sunday morning in Topeka, Kansas. The shooting also injured teammate Corey Ballentine, who was drafted by the New York Giants on Saturday.
Washburn president Jerry Farley confirmed that Dwane Simmons, 23, was killed in the shooting in a letter to the school Sunday. Ballentine is expected to make a full recovery, Farley wrote.
"Any time we lose a student it is a sad occasion, but it is particularly poignant to lose a student through such a senseless act," Farley wrote. "Both Dwane and Corey have been great examples and representatives of the football team and of Washburn University in general. 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."
According to police, Ballentine was taken to a hospital with a non-life-threatening gunshot wound.
Ballentine paid tribute to Simmons on Monday in a tweet.
God gives his toughest battles to his strongest soldiers. I love you forever. Thank you for being a true friend who uplifted me, corrected me when i was in the wrong, and accepted my flaws. Thank you for being a brother to me. Thank you for letting me experience your life💛 pic.twitter.com/SfqX9v6qgY— Corey Ballentine🇯🇲 (@cbxiii__) April 29, 2019
A preliminary investigation determined that the shooting occurred during a social gathering outside a residence, Topeka police spokeswoman Gretchen Koenen said in an email Sunday evening. She said dozens of people were at the gathering, and police were working to gather evidence and witness statements.
"We want to emphasize that we need those who were present to let us know what they saw,'' Koenen said.
Simmons, a defensive back who was entering his senior season in 2019, played in 22 games in three seasons at Washburn.
"Heartbreaking news about Dwane Simmons," Washburn coach Craig Schurig said in a statement. "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."
Ballentine, a cornerback, was the 2018 Cliff Harris Award winner as the small-college defensive player of the year and was one of three Division II players selected to the Senior Bowl. The 23-year-old ran a 4.47 40 at the NFL scouting combine and was selected in the sixth round; he was the last of three cornerbacks drafted by the Giants.
The Giants said they are aware of the situation and have spoken with Ballentine.
"Our thoughts are with Dwane Simmons' family, friends and teammates and the rest of the Washburn community," the Giants said in a statement.
ESPN's Jordan Raanan and The Associated Press contributed to this report.