Five charged in UF student's fatal beating

Many onlookers saw the attack on Thomas Oliver Brown, 23, amid partying after the Florida-Georgia football game.

Associated Press
Published November 1, 2005

JACKSONVILLE - Five men are charged with murder in the fatal beating Saturday night of a University of Florida student after the Florida-Georgia football game in downtown Jacksonville.

Numerous onlookers saw the beating of Thomas Oliver Brown, 23, who was held down by three men and beaten by two others, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said.

Brown was not breathing and had no pulse when rescue personnel arrived. They tried to revive him, but he was pronounced dead at Shands Jacksonville, police said.

Jeremy Lane, 21, Alex Canzano, 21, Casey Schuurman, 19, and Mark Foss, 18, all of Jacksonville, and Jeffery Groncziak, 19, of Ponte Vedra Beach, fled after the beating but were stopped in a taxi van. They were arrested and jailed on murder charges Sunday, police said.

The reason for the beating wasn't clear. "We're not certain if it had anything to do with the game," Sheriff's Office spokesman Ken Jefferson said.

The beating, which was recorded by a surveillance camera, occurred on Water Street, about a block from the Jacksonville Landing where football fans were partying after the game. Other police reports detailed a hectic evening around the Landing, with dozens of people arrested on charges including disorderly intoxication, battery and fighting.

Brown's father, Thomas J. Brown, said he learned his son, a senior at UF, was at the game with fraternity brothers and was somehow separated from them at the Landing. He was told by a detective that words were exchanged between his son and the attackers.

"He might have said something he shouldn't have, but it doesn't add up to murder," Brown said. "This isn't a fight, this is a massacre."

Samuel Canzano, father of Alex Canzano, broke into tears when asked about his son.

"He was not a kid who would do this kind of stuff," Samuel Canzano said. "With Alex, it was being in the wrong place at the wrong time."

--Information from the Florida Times-Union was included in this report.