Former teammate arrested in 2006 murder of University of Miami football player Bryan Pata, authorities say

September 03, 2021

Florida authorities announced an arrest Thursday in the fatal shooting of a University of Miami football player in 2006.

Former teammate Rashaun Travon Jones, 35, was arrested for first-degree murder in the death of defensive lineman Bryan Pata in Miami, according to the state attorney's office and Miami-Dade police.
According to the arrest warrant, Pata pulled into the parking lot of his apartment complex on November 7, 2006, when he was approached by an unknown suspect who shot him in the head. The 22-year-old died on the scene as a result of his injuries, police said.
In the course of the investigation, police learned Pata allegedly had ongoing issues with Jones, and had allegedly previously beaten Jones during a physical altercation, according to the warrant.
About two months prior to the homicide, Pata also told his brother that Jones had allegedly threatened to shoot him in the head. Pata did not report this to the team's head coach despite his brother's pleas to do so, according to the warrant. Investigators also found that Jones had made threats to other individuals, often using a small caliber firearm.

Jones was interviewed twice, but told investigators he was at his home the night of Pata's death and had never left, according to the warrant. However, investigators discovered from his cellphone records that the phone was utilizing cellular towers located near the crime scene around the time of the murder. Additionally, an eyewitness who was in the area at the time of the shooting later identified Jones in a photo lineup, the warrant said.
In two brief conversations with ESPN in 2019, Jones also denied killing Pata.
The arrest in the cold case Thursday followed an ESPN investigative report in November 2020 into various leads, which also detailed the family's frustration with the police investigation.
"The Pata family has waited a long time to see the individual they had believed involved in (Bryan's) death arrested and charged," State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said in a statement. She added that although it takes time to build sufficient evidence in such cases, "the passion and determination of police and prosecutors to resolve unsolved cases does not diminish."
According to the state attorney's office, Jones -- who was arrested in Ocala, Marion County -- is awaiting extradition to Miami-Dade County for prosecution.
As of Thursday evening, it was unclear if he had obtained an attorney.
University of Miami football head coach Manny Diaz addressed the arrest during his press conference after practice Thursday night.
Diaz said he had spoken with the Pata family Thursday. "It's important to respect their privacy at this time," he said. "It's been a very emotional 15 years. They are thankful for the people who are responsible for securing the arrest," the head coach said.
"Our thoughts are with the Pata family," Diaz added. "We got to know his family and we've got a lot of love for them."

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