By Amy Shipley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 8, 2006
MIAMI, Nov. 7 -- University of Miami defensive lineman Bryan Pata was fatally shot less than two hours after the Hurricanes finished their afternoon practice Tuesday, the University of Miami and Miami-Dade police said Tuesday night.
Pata was shot in the head at an apartment complex south of the university, Miami-Dade police spokesman Roy Rutland told the Associated Press
A Miami-Dade police dispatcher said a call reporting the shooting came at 7:03 p.m.
A police spokesman said the incident took place at Pata's residence and his death was ruled a homicide, Rutland said.
The football team, which is scheduled to play Maryland on Saturday, concluded its practice at around 5:15 p.m., and players, who were provided with catered food, dispersed soon after for their dorms or homes, a sports information official said.
Investigators remained on the scene after 10 p.m., the Miami-Dade dispatcher said. In a statement released at 11 p.m., the university urged anyone with information on the shooting to come forward.
"Tonight the University of Miami tragically lost a member of our football family, Bryan Pata," the statement read. "Bryan was a fine person and a great competitor. He will be forever missed by his coaches and teammates. We offer our thoughts and prayers to his family. Our players are deeply saddened and are grieving. We ask that their privacy be respected in the coming days."
Miami, which lost 17-10 to Virginia Tech at the Orange Bowl on Saturday night, is scheduled to face No. 23 Maryland in College Park on Saturday. No announcement was made regarding whether that game will take place as scheduled. ACC Commissioner John Swofford was aware of the shooting, according to the Associated Press, and was working with Miami officials to gather information, conference spokeswoman Amy Yakola said.
Pata, a senior expected to be taken in next spring's NFL draft, started eight games for the Hurricanes and made 29 tackles. Having made the shift from defensive end to tackle at the beginning of the season, Pata was credited for making Miami's run defense one of the best in the nation.
Tuesday night's shooting turned what has been an abysmal season for the Hurricanes into a tragic one. Other off-field incidents and disappointing play on the field have frustrated and embarrassed Miami, which is 5-4 and unranked.
Pata, a criminology major, was the second Miami football player shot this season. In July, safety Willie Cooper was shot in the buttocks in his front yard by an assailant after an early-morning workout, but he was not seriously injured. Miami's Brandon Meriweather, who shared a house with Cooper, returned fire at Cooper's assailant but apparently missed.
In a blowout victory over Florida International at the Orange Bowl on Oct. 14, a massive fight erupted that resulted in the suspensions of 31 players, including 13 Hurricanes. Former Miami wide receiver Lamar Thomas was fired from his job as a local television analyst for comments he made during the broadcast that suggested he wanted to join the fight.
Pata attended Central High in Miami and was rated the nation's 26th-ranked defensive lineman as a senior by Allen Wallace's Superprep. He started at defensive end since his sophomore season.
Pata became the second Hurricanes player murdered in the last decade. Linebacker Marlin Barnes was bludgeoned to death and slashed with a knife in his dorm room in April 1996.