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Washburn football player from Lee's Summit shot, killed in Topeka

Giants draft pick Corey Ballentine injured
Washburn Dwane Simmons and Corey Balentine.jpg
Posted at 12:13 PM, Apr 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-28 18:45:54-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Two Washburn football players were shot, one fatal, Sunday morning in an off-campus shooting.

Dwane Simmons, 23, a junior Lee's Summit West graduate, was killed.

Corey Ballentine — a senior and Topeka native, who was drafted Saturday by the New York Giants in the 2019 NFL Draft — was injured and is expected to recover.

Simmons was pronounced dead at the scene.

"Any time we lose a student it is a sad occasion, but it is particularly poignant to lose a student through such a senseless act," Washburn University said Sunday in statement. "Both Dwane and Corey have been great examples and representatives of the football team and of Washburn University in general. This was a terrible way to end a day which should have been a day of celebration and a day to look forward to Dwane’s upcoming year at Washburn and the beginning of Corey’s professional career."

Topeka police responded to a disturbance with gunshots at 12:46 a.m. in the 1400 block of 13th Street in Topeka. Officers found Simmons dead.

Ballentine, 23, was driven in a private vehicle a local hospital with a non-life-threatening gunshot wound. He is a graduate of Shawnee Heights High School.

The Giants issued a statement Sunday afternoon: "We are aware of the tragic situation and continue to gather information. We have spoken to Corey, and he is recovering in the hospital. Our thoughts are with Dwane Simmons’ family, friends and teammates and the rest of the Washburn community."

He became the sixth Ichabod selected in NFL Draft history and the first since 2008. Chosen in the sixth round, Ballentine is the highest draft pick — No. 180 overall — in program history.

Washburn has made counseling services available on campus today and reminded faculty, staff and students about its 24-hour counseling help line, which can be reached by calling 785-670-3100.

Anyone with information about the shooting is encouraged to call the Topeka Police Criminal Investigation Bureau at 785-368-9400 or the Shawnee County Crime Stoppers at 785-234-0007. Anonymous tips also can be passed along online at

"Heartbreaking news about Dwane Simmons," Washburn football coach Craig Schurig said in a statement on the school’s website. "Dwane is one of the most energetic and well-liked players I have ever coached at Washburn. Dwane's infectious smile and love for football and his teammates was truly inspirational. Our prayers of healing go out to his family, his parents Navarro and Yasmine Simmons and Chaquilla Williams."

The Lee's Summit R-7 School District also offered its condolences.

"We are so sad about the loss of 2014 graduate Dwane Simmons," the district said in a tweet. "A valued student, friend and athlete, Dwane was a true representative of our school district and community. His family, his friends and his teammates are in our thoughts. Sending love."

Simmons appeared in 59 games for Washburn and made 17 starts, including six in 2018. He finished last season with 28 tackles, five pass breakups and one interception, which Simmons returned for a touchdown against Missouri Southern.

Ballentine won the Cliff Harris Award as the small college defensive player of the year in college football and was selected for the 2019 Reese's Senior Bowl. Just seven hours before the shooting, he seemed to be on top of the world and tweeted his excitement:

"It’s all a crazy dream until you do it. I can’t even explain the emotions I have right now. S/o the people that told me to pick a more realistic career. This is as real as it gets. Thank you to the Giants organization for believing in me. It’s only up from here. #GiantsPride"