New York Giants Draft Pick Corey Ballentine Shot and Injured, College Teammate Killed in Shooting
The shooting injured Giants draft pick Corey Ballentine and killed Washburn University football player Dwane Simmons, both 23
A sixth-round draft pick to the New York Giants was injured and his college teammate killed in an off-campus shooting in Topeka, Kansas early Sunday.
Corey Ballentine, 23, suffered a non-life-threatening gunshot wound in the incident, which occurred just hours after the Washburn University senior was selected in the NFL draft Saturday evening.
His friend and teammate Dwane Simmons, 23, was killed, the Topeka Police Department said in a news release.
Authorities said they responded to a “disturbance with gunshots” off-campus around 12:45 a.m. Sunday, and found Simmons dead.
Ballentine, who was injured and taken to a local hospital by private vehicle, is expected to make a full recovery, Washburn president Dr. Jerry Farley said in a statement.
“We are aware of the tragic situation and continue 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,” the Giants said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE.
Simmons celebrated Ballentine’s milestone on his Instagram story hours before the shooting, sharing a photo of his friend with the words, “Where my jersey ?!”
He also shared a picture of him and Ballentine both smiling with the caption, “It’s a celebration brudda.”
Farley, meanwhile, called the shooting “particularly poignant” in his statement.
“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,” he 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.”
Ballentine was the seventh pick of the sixth round, and the 180th overall. He was also the first player out of Washburn to be drafted since Cary Williams headed to the Tennessee Titans in 2008, according to the university.
The defensive back expressed his excitement on Instagram Saturday, writing he was grateful to the Giants for inviting him to be part of the team.
“It’s all a crazy dream until you do it. I can’t even explain the emotions I have right now. Blessed with the opportunity to live out my dream,” he wrote. “Shout out the people that told me to pick a more realistic career. This is as real as it gets. Thank you to the Giants organization for believing in me. It’s only up from here. #GiantsPride”
The Giants also tweeted a video of head coach Pat Shurmur calling Ballentine on the phone to ask if he was healthy and ready to play.
“Yes sir, I’m ready to get started… I’m glad to be part of this franchise, I’ve been waiting on this opportunity for a lifetime, really,” Ballentine responded. “I’m glad to be even a part of the conversation, I’m definitely ready to start learning and be around the guys and be around you guys.”
Simmons, a junior, was a defensive back from Lee Summit, Missouri, majoring in mass media, according to the Washburn roster.
“Dwane is one of the most energetic and well-liked players I have ever coached at Washburn,” head coach Craig Schurig said in a statement. “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.”