UNIONTOWN, Pa. (AP) — A standout high school athlete trying to overcome a rocky family life has been fatally shot inside a western Pennsylvania home.
Darrell Ross, 17, died Thursday night, shortly after he was shot in the back of the head inside a Uniontown home.
He had friends and relatives there but had moved in with his grandfather in Connellsville, about 10 miles away, after his mother died two years ago, school officials said. His father had been in prison.
Hasani Simpkins, 20, of Uniontown, previously of Philadelphia, is charged with shooting Ross in an upstairs room of a home described by police as a “hangout.” Simpkins was found hiding outside when police arrived. The gun was found nearby. Police said the two hadn’t been argued and Simpkins may have been playing with the gun when it fired.
The weapon had been reported stolen to state police in Belle Vernon on Oct. 29.
Ross became a talented wide receiver at Connellsville High School, catching 31 passes for 343 yards and three touchdowns this season, and drawing interest from college scouts. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound junior was also a left-handed pitcher for the baseball team.
“Darrell had a smile and a personality that would light up a room, and a unique ability to befriend people,” said David McDonald, the school’s football coach and assistant principal. “He was a special young man that overcame a lot and had a very, very bright future ahead of him.”
Ross had spent time with the coach’s family on weekends and holidays.
“Darrell became a member of our family,” said McDonald, who went to Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, W.Va., to say goodbye Thursday night. “He had a special relationship with my daughters and my wife. He wouldn’t always listen to me, but he would listen to them.”
Ross had grown up in nearby Brownsville and kept up ties with people there and in Uniontown, he said.
Simpkins is being held without bail until a hearing Tuesday. He is being represented by a public defender, whose phone rang unanswered Saturday.
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