Former Ball State, Colts player killed in Florida shooting
TAMPA, Fla. – A former Ball State Cardinals and Indianapolis Colts player died in a shooting over the weekend.
Eric Patterson, 26, died Saturday morning. His roommate told police he heard some commotion in their home around 5 a.m. and found Patterson lying on his back. An unknown assailant ran out of the home, police said. Several Tampa-area media outlets, including WFLA and the Tampa Bay Times, reported the story.
Patterson was taken to a nearby hospital and later died from his injuries.
Current Ball State football coach Mike Neu confirmed the news Monday morning, posting a tribute to Patterson on Twitter.
“We are mourning the passing of one of our own, Eric Patterson. We are extremely saddened by this, and we ask that you please keep Eric and his family in your prayers,” Neu wrote. “Once a Cardinal, always a Cardinal.”
Tampa police later confirmed Patterson was the victim.
Patterson, a cornerback, signed with the New England Patriots as an undrafted free agent out of Ball State. He signed with the Colts in August 2015 and spent time on the active roster and the practice squad.
Patterson also had stints with the St. Louis Rams and Cleveland Browns during his NFL career.
As a stand out defensive back, Eric Patterson brought a lot of smiles to the Ball State football program, helping the team to back to back winning seasons, including back to back bowl game appearances.
“When you lose a member of your football family, it takes a toll on everyone,” said Pete Lembo, former Ball State Head Coach.
Lembo along with former coaches and teammates were heartbroken to learn that over the weekend, the 26 year old was shot and killed.
“It’s just so sad when something like this happens,” Lembo said. “Particularly under these kinds of circumstances.”
Patterson played 4 seasons in Muncie, earning all-conference honors as a senior, before getting his opportunity with NFL teams.
“We were thrilled coming out of Ball State when he finished his career, that he at least had that opportunity to pursue that goal and get to that level. Albeit for a short period of time,” Lembo said.
Lembo says it’s been a while since he’s talked with Patterson. Lembo left the Ball State program in 2015, but was looking forward to the day his former team would have a reunion, one he now says won’t be the same.
“You look forward to those opportunities when you can reconnect with the guys that you coached,” Lembo said. “Just knowing that whenever that day comes, he won’t be there with the rest of us… it’s disturbing.”
Police in Tampa are still looking for the suspect. Police say they believe the shooting was not random.