NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A high school football star was killed just hours after graduation during a dispute at a parking garage in the Bronx.
Isayah Muller was known for his love of football, and his star quality hardly went unnoticed. The 19-year-old from Harlem led his Truman High School team to a victory in the Public Schools Athletic League Bowl Championship last fall and was planning to start college in the fall, but his promising career came to an end Tuesday night.
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Police said Isayah and his father, Andre Muller, had just left Truman’s graduation when the teen’s father noticed something was missing from his car.
Authorities said Muller’s father accused the attendants of stealing an expensive bottle of cologne he had bought as a gift for his son. A fight ensued in which, police said, the father attacked the attendants with a shovel.
Isayah was stabbed in the chest in the ensuing fight. His father, mother and girlfriend rushed him to a nearby clinic but Muller later died.
“I just remember seeing him in graduation. And it was just heartbreaking — heartbreaking news,” classmate Sheikh Hussain told CBS 2’s Pablo Guzman.
“I remember telling him, remember me when you get to the NFL, and now it’s like I will never forget him,” Hussain said.
“All I know is he graduated, and from graduation to a funeral — that’s all I know,” Muller’s cousin, Moet Muller, told CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis.
Late Wednesday afternoon, Andre Muller appeared in court. He was charged with assault in the second degree and criminal possession of a weapon. He was still wearing his blood-stained shirt during his appearance, declining an offer to change clothes because it was his son’s blood.
Muller was arraigned and pleaded not guilty. He will be back in court on Aug. 4. The judge set bail at $10,000 bond or $2,500 cash.
Myrna Valentin, Andre Muller’s mother, said she believes her son was acting in self defense.
“Now they’re trying to say it’s his fault. It’s not fair,” she said.
Police released two parking attendants who were being questioned. The Bronx DA was taking over the case.
Police sources said when the boy saw one of the attendants take out a knife, the star running back came to his father’s defense. Multiple cameras captured the melee on surveillance video, police reviewed it, and filed no charges against the attendants.
Friends, teammates and classmates met for a somber gathering in the endzone behind Truman High School Wednesday.
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Coach John Shepherd said his one-of-a-kind running back was also a star off the field.
“As charismatic a kid as you could ever meet; great sense of humor, great sense of confidence,” Shepheard said. “Just when things were looking their most bleak, Isayah would literally trot over with a smile like, ‘Hey coach, I have a secret for you, I’m about to win you the game. Four words: I got you coach.”
“It’s truly heart shattering to think of the future that he’s been denied,” he added.
Team captain Jose Tavares was going to room with Isayah in college. Tavares said he will never forget the last time he saw Isayah — shaking his best friend’s hand at graduation saying “We did it.”
“My last memory of him was saying bye, ‘Isayah, I’ll see you later; we’ll be celebrating tonight,'” Tavares said. “I just left and never got to see him again.”
“Nobody’s ever going to forget Muller, number 21,” another teammate said.
Just months ago, in an online interview, he was talking about his championship win.
“Everybody was really excited for us. Some people doubted us,” he said.
He grabbed the attention of everyone in that game after running 290 yards and making an 80-yard touchdown.
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