A fellow student and former teammate has turned himself in to police for the shocking on-campus killing of Florida International running back Kendall Berry on Thursday night, ending a day of near-lockdown at the school's main Modesto Modique campus.
Quentin Wyche, 22, has been charged with second-degree murder and held without bond. According to police and witnesses, the incident began at the school's rec center when Wyche insulted Berry's girlfriend and threw cookies in her face.
As the two men exchanged words and the argument became physical, Wyche stabbed Berry with an unknown object.
"There was a girl...she was like crying and screaming,'' 19-year-old Doryham Almandarez told the Miami Herald. "[Berry] was getting kicked."
Wyche fled, leaving his classmate behind to die and a shaken university struggling to understand how a favorite student-athlete came to such an end.
"Kendall had an infectious personality," said Golden Panthers coach Mario Cristbal in a statement as spring practices were postponed indefinitely. "He was loved and respected by everyone who had the privilege of knowing him. It was truly an honor to have known and coached Kendall. It's a shame to lose such a young life to an act of senseless violence."
Berry's high school coach in Haines City, Bill Buldini, echoed that sentiment to The Associated Press.
"To talk about him as a football player would underscore him," Buldini said. "As great as a player as he was for us, he was a great person. He was a good kid. Never had any problems with Kendall. Never got in any trouble. I used to tell kids, if you were looking for a role model, look at Kendall Berry...the Kendall Berry I know wouldn't go out and look for any trouble."
"He was a real cool, laid back guy, standup guy, a guy you can always depend on," said Miami Hurricanes defensive end Stephen Wesley, who knew Berry from growing up at rival schools in Polk County. "I'm shocked."
After an encouraging 2009 season that saw him rush for five touchdowns in two games, Berry was expected to be one of the feature backs in FIU's Saturday scrimmage. He spent several of his last hours calling friends and family, encouraging them to travel to Miami to watch.
"He was excited," Buldini recalled. "He wanted us to come down and see him play. He had graded out with the best grade of the running backs. He thought he was headed in the right direction."
Wyche was in training camp with FIU last summer, though he did not appear on the roster for the past season. He was arrested twice in Volusia County as a minor, once for for felony battery on a school board employee and another for the misdemeanor "conspiring to disrupt the education process."
A memorial for Berry will be held Monday at FIU's U.S. Century Bank Arena at 2:30 p.m.