CFB: Arrest made in FIU player slaying
The day began with Florida International University president Mark B. Rosenberg saying his school "will not rest" until the person responsible for the stabbing death of running back Kendall Berry was found.
Ending a frantic search that put an entire university on edge, Miami-Dade police said Friday night that Quentin Rashad Wyche, 22, had turned himself in to authorities, roughly 24 hours after Berry was stabbed outside the school's recreation center.
Later, police said Wyche would be charged with second-degree murder and held without bond. Wyche was in training camp with FIU's football team last summer, though his name does not appear on the team's 2009 roster.
"Kendall had an infectious personality," FIU football coach Mario Cristobal said Friday before the arrest was announced. "He was loved and respected by everyone who had the privilege of knowing him. It was truly an honor to have known and coached Kendall. It's a shame to lose such a young life to an act of senseless violence."
Investigators said Berry and Wyche got into a "verbal dispute" and Wyche pulled out an unknown sharp object and stabbed Berry around 9 p.m. Thursday night. It was unclear what the dispute was about.
Wyche was in custody Friday night and it was not immediately known if he had an attorney.
Wyche's arrest ended a day where the FIU community was on high alert. Increased security for students and grief assistance were available, and Berry's football teammates were meeting with counselors. Students living in residence halls were advised to keep doors locked, and any person at the university was offered protective escorting if desired.
"Our hearts are heavy," Rosenberg said in a video statement to the university community Friday morning, his voice somber.
Berry will be remembered in a "celebration of life" at FIU's basketball arena on Monday afternoon.
"The FIU football team and FIU community suffered a tremendous loss. ... We will come together and help each other overcome this tragedy," Cristobal said.
The campus opened as usual Friday and classes and other events took place as scheduled. The rec center was closed until noon, and reminders of the crime — police tape stuffed into a trash can, an orange "X'' spray-painted on the ground — were left behind near the front doors.
Spring football, which was to conclude Wednesday, is postponed indefinitely.
Those who knew Berry best said it wasn't like him to be caught in a heated situation.
"To talk about him as a football player would underscore him," Berry's high school coach, Bill Buldini told The Associated Press. "As great as a player as he was for us, he was a great person. He was a good kid. Never had any problems with Kendall. Never got in any trouble. I used to tell kids, if you were looking for a role model, look at Kendall Berry."
FIU student Freddy Chica, 23, said he was inside the rec center Thursday night when he noticed a commotion. Shortly afterward, he said he saw Berry drop to the ground in a chaotic scene. Chica said he saw a man check Berry for a pulse and start CPR, then saw another person begin resuscitation attempts. He said he also saw paramedics arrive.
"When they ripped his shirt off, I noticed that the shirt was full of blood," Chica said.
When paramedics put Berry on the stretcher, his hands fell to the side and his head moved sideways, Chica said.
"I can't get that picture out of my head," he added.
Berry finished last season with seven touchdowns, six of them rushing. He had seven brothers and sisters, FIU said.
"In our sorrow, we must come together," Rosenberg said.
Associated Press writer Sarah Larimer contributed to this report from Miami.