TAMPA, Fla. — Former Plant High School football player Eric Patterson, 26, was killed in a shooting Saturday morning at his apartment on W. Plaza Place, Tampa police confirmed Monday.
Patterson’s roommate told investigators there was a commotion in their apartment. When the roommate went out into the main living space, police say the roommate saw an unknown suspect inside and Patterson lying on his back.
The unknown person ran away from the home.
First responders tried to save Patterson's life. He was rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
"The shooting does not appear to be random," Tampa Police Spokesperson Steve Hegarty wrote in an email.
Detectives have launched an investigation.
Patterson played at Ball State before heading to the NFL.
He played for the Indianapolis Colts and was on the roster for the New England Patriots, Cleveland Browns and St. Louis Rams.
“EP was very affable. He was very easy to love. He was quick to gain friends. He had a lot of friends. He had a lot of friends on our team,” Plant High Coach Robert Weiner said.
Patterson was a starting defensive back for Plant High and was part of the team’s 2009 state championship team. He was also part of the 2010 team that made it to the state finals.
"It's difficult. It's hard. It's hard not only personally, and this is true probably of anybody who deals with tragedy,” Weiner said.
Patterson was a father, son, athlete and friend to those he loved.
“It's definitely not ‘like’ someone in your family. It is someone in your family. That's your family, so, all I can really say at this point is we really miss EP,” said Weiner. “He's meant a lot to a lot of people."
Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay is offering a reward of up to $3,000 for information that leads to the identification and arrest in Patterson's death. Send your tips to 1-800-572-TIPS or to the Crime Stoppers website.
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