A former University of Miami football player was arrested Thursday in connection with the 2006 fatal shooting of his teammate Bryan Pata, NBC Miami reports.
Rashaun Jones, 35, has been charged with first-degree murder as part of a joint operation between the Miami-Dade Police Department and U.S. Marshals. “The Pata family has waited a long time to see the individual they had believed involved in Brian’s death arrested and charged,” State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said. “While the time needed to build sufficient evidence to ethically charge in a homicide can sometimes feel endless, families should know that the passion and determination of police and prosecutors to resolve unsolved cases does not diminish.”
On Nov. 7, 2006, Pata stepped out of his SUV around 7 p.m. and was headed towards his apartment complex when he was shot in the back of the head. Jones had long been considered a suspect, given their tumultuous history with one another off the football field. Pata had allegedly gotten the better of Jones in two separate physical altercations. Jones also dated Pata’s ex-girlfriend, Jada Brody, but it’s unclear if the relationship had any direct relation to their ongoing conflict.
Pata’s brother Edwin was allegedly told two months prior to the incident that Jones had threatened to shoot him, however, he never reported the threat to their former coach Larry Coker. The investigation revealed Jones had made similar threats to other people.
Jones had been questioned on two occasions. He told investigators that he was at his apartment at the time of Pata’s death, but location data later revealed that he had used a cellphone tower near the site of shooting 19 minutes earlier. According to a recently signed arrest warrant, a then-62-year-old man called police the day after the incident to report a “pop” noise he heard while walking near the apartment building. The witness also said he saw someone walk away “in a brisk manner.”
The man was asked to describe the suspect to a sketch artist, and the drawing resembled Jones. The following year, the witness identified Jones in a police lineup. Police avoided publicly naming a suspect in the investigation, but their file for Jones included a cover sheet, as it did with everyone else, however, his cover was the lone one that referred to him as a “suspect.”