TOPEKA, Kan. – A Washburn University football player was killed and a former player and recent draft pick by the New York Giants was injured in a shooting in central Topeka overnight.
Topeka officers responded to the deadly shooting just after 12:45 Sunday morning. It happened near SW 13th Street and SW Lane Street, just northeast of Washburn's campus. When they arrived on scene they found 23-year-old Dwane D. Simmons deceased. Another victim was identified as 23-year-old Corey Ballentine, who was reported to have a non-life-threatening gunshot wound. Ballentine is expected to make a full recovery.
Washhburn University President Dr. Jerry Farley released a letter to students and staff Sunday morning stating that both Simmons and Ballentine were students at the university.
Simmons was a junior defensive back at Washburn and played high school football at Lee’s Summit West.
“Anytime we lose a student it is a sad occasion, but it is particularly poignant to lose a student through such a senseless act,” Farley said. “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.”
Washburn head football coach Craig Schurig said the news about Simmons is heartbreaking.
"Dwane is one of the most energetic and well-liked players I have ever coached at Washburn,” Schurig said. “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 senior cornerback and return man for Washburn and a Topeka native was picked in the sixth round of the NFL draft by the Giants Saturday.
The Giants released a statement Sunday saying they are aware of the tragic situation and are continuing to gather information.
“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.”
Topeka police is asking anyone with information to call them at 785-368-9400 or Shawnee County Crime Stoppers at 785-234-0007.