STORRS, Conn. – One teammate performed first aid while another comforted a University of Connecticut football player who was fatally stabbed during a fight outside a school-sanctioned dance over the weekend, their coach said Monday.
Coach Randy Edsall wouldn't identify the teammates or say how many players witnessed the fight that led to the death of 20-year-old Jasper Howard. A second player also was stabbed, but sustained only minor injuries.
"One had Jasper in his arms and the other was pressuring where the wound went in and had blood on his hands," Edsall said. "And those two young men are pretty deeply affected right now."
The state's medical examiner's office said Monday that Howard died from a single stab wound to the abdomen. The death was ruled a homicide.
Howard, a junior and starting cornerback, came to the school to get away from the violence on the streets of his hometown of Miami. He was the first person in his family to go to college.
Joanglia Howard said she got news of her son's death about 4 a.m. Sunday, and described him as a "good kid" who never got into trouble.
"All I wanted him to do was go to school and get an education, and he was doing what I asked him to do," she told WSVN-TV in Miami.
Edsall planned to meet Howard's parents at a Connecticut airport later Monday. They planned to visit the surgeon who tried to save his life, and the medical examiner who has custody of the body.
Police interviewed dozens of witnesses on Monday but said there were no suspects and no arrests, although around 300 people were in the area when a fire alarm sounded and students evacuated the building.
"We're pursuing active investigative leads," UConn police Maj. Ronal Blicher said. "The investigation will continue into this week."
Police arrested a Hartford man, 21-year-old Johnny Hood, after the stabbing and charged him with interfering with an officer and breach of peace. Hood was identified by witnesses as being involved in the altercation, and gave police a false name, according to an incident report. Hood was arraigned Monday and ordered held on $100,000 bond.
He has not been charged with Howard's death. Blicher said authorities are not anticipating any "significant changes in the investigation" Monday.
A second player stabbed in the attack, 19-year-old Brian Parker of Sarasota, Fla., identified Hood as one of those involved, according to a police report. Parker, a sophomore wide receiver who is academically ineligible to play this season, was treated and released from a local hospital.
Blicher said Howard was wounded during a fight between two groups that included students and non-students. The altercation broke out just after a fire alarm went off in a student center, forcing around 300 people to evacuate from the party and dance sponsored by the school's West Indian Awareness Organization.
The violence came less than 12 hours after UConn's 38-25 homecoming victory over Louisville. Edsall identified Howard's body at St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford Sunday morning.
The team will wear a sticker with Howard's initials on its helmets for the rest of the season and will carry Howard's helmet or jersey to away games, Edsall said.
The coach said he doesn't know if the two teammates who helped Howard will play when the Huskies visit Big East foe West Virginia on Saturday.
"I've talked to both of them each day," he said. "I've got to see where they're at today, see where they're at tomorrow and I will tell them if they don't feel they are mentally ready to play, that's their decision, and I'll honor whatever decision they want to make."
Blicher said officials do not believe the stabbing was premeditated, nor do they think anyone else is in danger.
Some students on Monday said they've never considered their campus unsafe. Some, like freshman Alexander Wegh of Terryville, stayed indoors on Sunday as police gathered evidence.
"I kind of just stayed inside (Sunday) because they really didn't tell us what was going on," he said. "I didn't come here thinking about safety, because it's not like when you pick your school you're like, 'Oh, it's going to be really safe or not.' You assume it's going to be safe."
Howard's death was especially tragic, because he was about to become a father, Edsall said. Neither police nor the university provided any additional information about the expectant mother, whom Edsall identified as Howard's girlfriend.
Howard had a career-high 11 tackles Saturday and made perhaps the game's biggest play, forcing a fumble as Louisville was driving with UConn up 21-13 in the third quarter.
"He played a great football game against us," Louisville coach Steve Kragthorpe said Monday. "I had a lot of respect for him coming into the game and even more coming out of the game."
A student memorial service was being planned. The campus co-op store sold out of Howard's No. 6 jersey Monday morning.
Administrators from West Virginia, Connecticut and the Big East Conference talked on Sunday but postponing the game was not discussed, school officials said.
West Virginia coach Bill Stewart said plans are in the works to honor Howard at Saturday's game in Morgantown, W.Va. He said he expected the game would be very emotional for both teams.
"The youngsters from our Miami area took it very, very, very hard," he said. "Our guys were quite shaken, as they should be and they really, really liked that young man immensely."
Edsall said his team will resume practicing on Tuesday.
"It'll be good for us to be getting back on the practice field tomorrow and getting a little bit of what in this tragic situation, back to a little bit of normalcy with what we have to do," he said.