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Published: Sunday, 10/18/2009

AP source: University of Connecticut football player fatally stabbed

ASSOCIATED PRESS
In this Dec. 29, 2007 file photo, Connecticut cornerback Jasper Howard, left, and safety Robert Vaughn watch as the final seconds tick off the clock in their 24-10 loss to Wake Forest in the Meineke Car Care Bowl football game in Charlotte, N.C. Howard, of Miami, a junior and starting cornerback, died following a stabbing on the University of Connecticut campus early Sunday, Oct. 18, 2009. In this Dec. 29, 2007 file photo, Connecticut cornerback Jasper Howard, left, and safety Robert Vaughn watch as the final seconds tick off the clock in their 24-10 loss to Wake Forest in the Meineke Car Care Bowl football game in Charlotte, N.C. Howard, of Miami, a junior and starting cornerback, died following a stabbing on the University of Connecticut campus early Sunday, Oct. 18, 2009.
NELL REDMOND / AP Enlarge

STORRS, Conn. — A University of Connecticut football player was stabbed to death early Sunday after an on-campus dance, hours after the team's homecoming weekend victory over Louisville.

Jasper Howard, 20, of Miami, a junior and starting cornerback, and a second person were stabbed during a fight after someone pulled a fire alarm during a dance at the UConn Student Union, police said. The dance was not related to the game, police said.

Sunday afternoon, police were still looking for the perpetrator.

"We're actively following investigative leads," said Major Ronald Blicher of the UConn Police, when asked if authorities have a suspect.

UConn students were being advised to be cautious, but Blicher said police do not believe the incident was a random act of violence.

"I have reached out to UConn President Hogan to offer him any assistance needed at this most difficult time," she said in a prepared statement. "Beyond law enforcement, we will also make available counselors and other needed resources."

A news conference with UConn coach Randy Edsall, athletic director Jeff Hathaway and other school officials was scheduled for the afternoon.

University President Michael Hogan told The Associated Press the stabbing is a tragedy for the entire university community.

"I was in the locker room after the game yesterday. It was such a joyous moment," Hogan said. "To go from that game and such a victory to the developments at 12:30 last night is such a tragedy."

Police cordoned off the crime scene near the Storrs university's well-known Gampel Pavilion basketball arena.

Blicher said two groups were involved in the fight.

UConn police said one of their officers was approached on Hillside Road around 12:33 a.m. and told that a stabbing had occurred. Police found Howard and another person with stab wounds, university police said in a statement. The name of the second person was not immediately released.

Both were taken by ambulance to Windham Community Memorial Hospital. Howard was later airlifted by Lifestar helicopter to St. Francis Hospital in Hartford, where he died from his injuries, police said. The second person was treated and released from Windham hospital.

Howard made a key move in Saturday's game, forcing a fumble just as Louisville was about to score. The Huskies were up 21-13 at the time. They later won 38-25. Following the game, Howard, who led the Big East in punt returns last season, talked to the AP about the play.

"I felt my hand go on the ball and I felt that I had a chance to get it out. I just stripped it out. It was a big play. We needed it," he said.

Hogan, the university president, said the school was arranging for Howard's mother to come to Connecticut.

"It's such a tragedy. All I can say is how sorry we all are and how sad we all are that something like this happened in the middle of our campus," Hogan said.

UConn police were working with a major crime squad of the state police on the case. Hogan said about 40 officers were involved.

Gov. M. Jodi Rell also visited the campus Sunday to offer her condolences.



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