Man convicted in shooting that killed 1, wounded NFL player

Mar 25, 2022, 3:34 AM | Updated: Mar 26, 2022, 6:21 am

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A jury on Friday convicted a man of killing a college football player in Kansas and wounding another player who recovered and now plays for the Atlanta Falcons in the NFL.

Francisco “Franky” Mendez, 21, was found guilty of first-degree murder in the April 28, 2019, death of Dwane Simmons, 23, a cornerback for Washburn University in Topeka.

Mendez was also convicted on four counts of attempted murder for shooting at Washburn players Corey Ballentine, Channon Ross, Kevin Neal Jr. and J.J. Letcher Jr., wounding Ballentine, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

The shooting occurred hours after Ballentine was drafted by the New York Giants. He recovered and now plays for the Atlanta Falcons. The other three men were not injured.

Testimony at the trial indicated Simmons and Ballentine were shot as they stood outside a Topeka house where they had attended a party to celebrate Ballentine being drafted. A car driven by Mendez pulled up and asked the group if they had any marijuana.

When the players said they didn’t, another person in the car asked the players’ names and one player said something along the lines of, ‘Don’t worry about all that,'” witnesses said.

Mendez pulled the car forward and then stopped, and its occupants got out and fired at least 19 shots at the players, witnesses said. The car had been stolen in a carjacking earlier in the evening.

Simmons died at the scene. The other players ran as the shooters walked toward them, a witness said.

Deputy Shawnee County District Attorney Charles Kitt said the shooting occurred because Mendez and the three other people in the car felt they had been disrespected by the football players.

The other occupants of the car have not been identified and no one else has been charged in the case, which remains under investigation.

Mendez was also convicted on seven counts of aggravated robbery linked to crimes committed in the days before and after Simmons was killed.

A sentencing date hasn’t been set.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


File - People shop at an Apple store in the Westfield Garden State Plaza mall in Paramus, New Jerse...
Associated Press

A key inflation gauge tracked by the Fed slowed in February

The Federal Reserve's favored inflation gauge slowed sharply last month, an encouraging sign in the Fed's yearlong effort to cool price pressures through steadily higher interest rates.
2 days ago
FILE - The OpenAI logo is seen on a mobile phone in front of a computer screen displaying output fr...
Associated Press

Musk, scientists call for halt to AI race sparked by ChatGPT

Are tech companies moving too fast in rolling out powerful artificial intelligence technology that could one day outsmart humans?
3 days ago
Associated Press

Starbucks leader grilled by Senate over anti-union actions

Longtime Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz faced sharp questioning Wednesday before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee
4 days ago
FILE - The overdose-reversal drug Narcan is displayed during training for employees of the Public H...
Associated Press

FDA approves over-the-counter Narcan; here’s what it means

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday approved selling naloxone without a prescription, the first over-the-counter opioid treatment.
4 days ago
FILE - A Seattle police officer walks past tents used by people experiencing homelessness, March 11...
Associated Press

Seattle, feds seek to end most oversight of city’s police

  SEATTLE (AP) — The U.S. Justice Department and Seattle officials asked a judge Tuesday to end most federal oversight of the city’s police department, saying its sustained, decade-long reform efforts are a model for other cities whose law enforcement agencies face federal civil rights investigations. Seattle has overhauled virtually all aspects of its police […]
5 days ago
capital gains tax budgets...
Associated Press

Washington moves to end child sex abuse lawsuit time limits

People who were sexually abused as children in Washington state may soon be able to bring lawsuits against the state, schools or other institutions for failing to stop the abuse, no matter when it happened.
5 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Compassion International...

Brock Huard and Friends Rally Around The Fight for First Campaign

Professional athletes are teaming up to prevent infant mortality and empower women at risk in communities facing severe poverty.
Emergency Preparedness...

Prepare for the next disaster at the Emergency Preparedness Conference

Being prepared before the next emergency arrives is key to preserving businesses and organizations of many kinds.
SHIBA volunteer...

Volunteer to help people understand their Medicare options!

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you!
safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Man convicted in shooting that killed 1, wounded NFL player