A former University of Miami football player is accused of fatally shooting his teammate almost 15 years ago, Florida authorities announced.
Rashaun Travon Jones, who was once a defensive back with the Miami Hurricanes, was taken into custody on Aug. 19 in Ocala, Marion County, and faces a first-degree murder charge in connection to the 2006 death of the team’s 22-year-old defensive lineman, Bryan Pata.
Jones’ arrest was the “result of 15 years of investigation, countless hours, numerous interviews, and credible work done by countless detectives with the assistance and collaboration of the State Attorney’s office who were able to obtain an arrest warrant,” Miami-Dade police homicide detective Juan Segovia said.
Jones, 35, is awaiting extradition to Miami-Dade County, Segovia said.
“Through numerous interviews, police learned that Pata allegedly had previous on-going issues with football teammate Jones,” the Miami-Dade State’s Attorney’s Office said in a statement. “Pata was much larger physically than Jones and it was learned that allegedly Pata had previously beaten Jones during a physical altercation.”
The attorney’s office noted two months before Pata’s death, he told his brother, Edwin, the suspect allegedly threatened to shoot him in the head. Edwin begged his brother to tell his team’s head coach, but Pata never reported the incident.
Police also learned during the investigation that “Jones made threats to other individuals, often with the alleged use of a small caliber firearm described as a .22 or .38 caliber weapon,” prosecutors claimed.
Detectives interviewed Jones on two separate occasions after the murder, but he denied he had anything to do with his teammate's death and said he was at home that day and never left.
Investigators, however, were able to recover phone records that allegedly showed that shortly before the homicide Jones’ cell pinged off towers in the area, the attorney’s office said, claiming a “coincidental eyewitness in the area at the time of the shooting allegedly identified the suspect in a photo lineup.”
“I want to thank the media, the family, the police and our own prosecutors for never giving up,” Miami-Dade State Attorney Kathy Fernandez Rundle said of the case.
At an Aug. 19 press conference, Miami football head coach Manny Diaz noted that “it’s been a very emotional 15 years” and the victim’s loved ones "are thankful for the people who are responsible for securing the arrest.”
He added: “Our thoughts are with the Pata family. We got to know his family and we've got a lot of love for them.”