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UM death: 'Just total shock'
By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published November 9, 2006
CORAL GABLES - Less than 24 hours after Bryan Pata, one of Miami's most respected players, was killed outside his apartment, his team was back on the football field, preparing for Saturday's game at No. 23 Maryland.
"They felt like Bryan would want to practice. They felt like Bryan would want to play," coach Larry Coker said. "That's a decision that we respected, and I think it's the right decision. We've talked to a lot of teams that have had tragedies, and the thing that they've all said is, 'You've got to get back.' "
Pata, 22, was shot to death Tuesday outside his off-campus apartment, less than two hours after practice and a team dinner ended. The defensive lineman was dead in the parking lot when police arrived. Detectives ruled it a homicide.
Det. Roy Rutland, spokesman for the Miami-Dade County Police Department, said police searched Pata's apartment. He would not provide details about what was sought and what was found.
Coker said two assistant coaches came into his office and told him the news shortly after the shooting.
"It's something you never anticipate, never," Coker said. "You expect maybe a sprained ankle but nothing more than that. Just total shock."
Players returned to the athletic complex after learning of Pata's death and stayed for several hours. They met with chaplains and grief counselors, and several were interviewed by detectives.
"It's spiritual, but God's not going to give you more than you can handle," Coker said. "And I'm just disappointed that he trusts us so much, because we've been getting a lot to handle."
Miami players were not available for comment Wednesday. They walked off the field nearly in total silence.
A memorial service for Pata was scheduled for noon next Wednesday.
"It's a product of ignorant individuals and stupid people who don't care about life," said Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Jerome McDougle, a former Miami standout and a South Florida native. "It's tragic. I feel for him and his family."
"I was a little shocked," Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan said. "I wish all those guys the best down there."