Utah football player shot to death at house party hours after win over Washington State

Utah football player Aaron Lowe was shot to death early Sunday morning in Salt Lake City, police said. No arrests have been made in the incident, in which another person was badly wounded.

Lowe, 21, was killed less than a year after Utah running back Ty Jordan died in what Texas police described as an accidental shooting. Lowe and Jordan were high school teammates in Mesquite, Tex., and after the latter’s death Lowe became the first recipient of a memorial scholarship created in Jordan’s honor.

Utes Coach Kyle Whittingham said his program was “devastated” to learn of Lowe’s death.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Aaron’s family and friends, along with the other individual who was harmed in this tragic incident,” Whittingham said in a statement. “Aaron was a great teammate, friend, brother and son and was loved by anyone who crossed paths with him. He will be deeply missed.”

The shooting occurred a few hours after Lowe, a junior defensive back, helped Utah defeat Washington State on Saturday. The Cougars were playing shortly after one of their players, wide receiver Brandon Gray, was seriously injured in a shooting near his campus that took the life of another man.

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Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown said Sunday evening that his detectives were “working through each lead” and that his department believed there were witnesses who had yet to come forward.

In a statement earlier Sunday, Brown said: “I am deeply saddened by the shooting death of Aaron Lowe. This talented young man touched the lives of so many here in Salt Lake City and in Texas.”

Police said they initially received a noise complaint at approximately 10:30 p.m. Saturday regarding a house party. Almost two hours later, they received a call from a person in the neighborhood where the party was taking place who said a weapon had been brandished in a fight. As officers prepared to approach the house, police were informed of the sound of gunfire.

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“The whole neighborhood lit up,” a neighbor told Salt Lake City’s KSL-TV. Another neighbor estimated at least 100 people were at the party and were spilling into the street when “a lot of yelling” was heard before several gunshots rang out.

When officers reached the scene, they found Lowe and the other victim, described as a young woman now in a hospital in critical condition.

Police said they believe it is likely that several witnesses to the events leading up to the shooting fled the scene before officers arrived and that some of them may have taken photos or video that could help in the investigation.

Utah Gov. Spencer J. Cox (R) offered his condolences via Twitter, writing that he and his wife mourned the “tragic passing” of Lowe. “Our prayers are with his family at this terribly difficult time,” he stated.

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Lowe changed his jersey number this season from 2 to 22 to honor Jordan, who died on Christmas, a day after he was named the Pac-12′s newcomer of the year. Officers in Denton, Tex., reportedly said at the time that Jordan shot himself in the hip under unknown circumstances and later died at a hospital.

Earlier this year, Lowe wrote about how much the late wide receiver meant to him.

“It was your personality that influenced me,” Lowe said in an essay. “I had someone in you. Someone who came from where I came from. … The impact you left on me and all of your friends will be something we will never forget. I want to make sure your legacy lives on through me.”

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“Aaron was a terrific young man, a leader on our football team, and a rock of resiliency and courage,” Utah Athletic Director Mark Harlan said in a statement Sunday. “Our prayers are with Aaron’s family, friends, teammates and all who knew and loved him. We also express our deepest concern for the other individual who has been hospitalized as a result of this tragic incident. We have been in communication with Aaron’s family and we are providing support to them, as well as to the student-athletes, coaches and staff in all of our athletics programs, and our focus will remain on them.”