Suspect charged in shooting of Giants CB Corey Ballentine. A teenager was charged Friday night in Topeka, Kansas with first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder in the double-shooting that injured Giants rookie Corey Ballentine and killed his best friend Dwane Simmons, according to a statement from the district attorney’s office obtained by NJ Advance Media.
Francisco Alejandro Mendez, 18, reportedly has been in Shawnee County Jail since May 1 on three separate counts of robbery. He was not charged by the District Attorney until forensic testing was concluded, WIBW reported.
“Today was a good day of healing and the start of justice in the murder of Dwane Simmons,” Washburn football coach Craig Schurig told NJ Advance Media.
“Charges being filed of first-degree murder of Dwane and attempted first-degree murder of Corey are a big step in bringing justice. The Topeka Police Department and Chief Bill Cochran and D.A. Mike Kagay have put in a lot of work to get to this point and we are very appreciative.”
Ballentine and Simmons, both 23, were outside a party hosted in a populous neighborhood by the Washburn University women’s soccer team early in the morning of April 28, when shots rang out on the street from a car containing 2-4 persons, according to police. Simmons was declared dead on the scene, while Ballentine was hospitalized and survived shots to his buttocks.
Just hours before the shooting, Ballentine was drafted in the sixth round by the Giants. Around that same time, Mendez is accused of committing two aggravated robberies, according to the district attorney.
How they came to be at the same location remains unclear, but Simmons’ father told local news outlets the football players were asked if they had “smoke for sale.” When they said they did not, the occupants of the car allegedly opened fire after circling the block.
Mendez is being held on $1 million bond, according to the district attorney.
After attending Simmons’ funeral when the other GIants rookies were in minicamp, Ballentine started his NFL career in mid-May and later returned to the practice field without sign of injury. He will compete for a backup cornerback and special teams role when training camp opens July 22.
Schurig said he spoke to Ballentine after the charges were filed Friday. Ballentine has not spoken to media since the shooting.
“He expressed relief and was thankful that justice is being served,” Schurig said. “He is working hard and getting ready for camp. This news helps with his healing.”
Schurig also communicated with Simmons’ father, Navarro, who expressed it was a “good day” for the grieving family still searching for answers.
“This is a start and more charges will follow soon, hopefully,” Schurig said. “Washburn University and the community of Topeka are working together to build a safer and better community around the university. How (we) have worked together has been impressive and motivating to make positive change in Topeka.”