Beloved Soccer Coach Affiliated With Red Bulls Brutally Slashed To Death
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Police have released new surveillance images of a suspect who is wanted for fatally stabbing a 25-year-old man in Union Square.
Michael Jones was found lying on the ground on 14th Street between 5th and 6th avenues around 4:30 a.m. Sunday, police said. He had been slashed several times in the head, neck and chest and one of his ears was cut off, police said.
CBS 2’s Lou Young learned the victim got a message from his girlfriend to meet her at an all-night restaurant in the Meat Packing District. En route to meeting her, he received another text message changing the meeting place. It didn’t matter. He never arrived.
Jones was seen walking with and apparently arguing with his killer moments before the slashing began on West 14th near Union Square. A soccer shirt, pair of Rosary beads and bouquet of flowers marked the spot on Monday evening.
1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reports
He was transported to Bellevue Hospital where he later died.
Jones was a native of Liverpool, England and was a coach with the Red Bulls Youth Training Program. He lived in West Harrison in Westchester County.
The neighborhood where the murder took place was still numb Monday night.
“To shoot somebody, that’s no small thing. It’s pulling the trigger. But for a person to pull a knife, that person is sick,” said Nicholas Jennings, who works in the area.
“I don’t think somebody’s stalking the neighborhood. I think this is something that happened between two people,” neighbor Nancy Lederman added.
The truth is detectives don’t know the motive, but they are parsing pieces of Jones’ life to try and find a reason, CBS 2’s Young reported. The suspect is described as a Hispanic man between 25 and 30 years old with a dark pony tail.
“It’s shocking,” Armonk Soccer Club president Melinda Ganales said. “He was so young and so sure of himself. He loved the kids, the kids loved him.”
Investigators said it appears robbery was not the motive. Jones’ iPhone was left at the scene. It’s unclear if any money was taken. However, detectives interviewing friends and relatives at the 13th Precinct were telling them not to speak about the case. The suspicion is this was personal, not random, CBS 2’s Young reported.
Ganales, who worked with Jones at the Red Bulls youth camp, said she is struggling to tell hundreds of Westchester kids that their beloved soccer coach is dead.
“He was incredibly excited for the next stage of his life. I can’t express how tragic for our community and how unfair it is for someone at that point, planning for the next level and to have it taken away so quickly,” Ganales said.
“We said ‘Coach Mike is gone’ but we haven’t told him he’s gone forever,” she added. “We don’t know how to break it to a 7-year-old who’s known Coach Mike for the last three, four years.”
WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman with reaction
Jones’ best friend and fellow coach Craig Hutchinson said he still has not made sense of the death.
“It took a while for it to actually realize what the words meant,” Hutchinson told WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman.
Hutchinson said the fact that Jones was a youth coach makes it even harder to deal with.
“Imagine what it must be like for the parents having to break it to their kids as well that Coach Mike is not going to be coaching them again,” Hutchinson added. “The world’s certainly going to be a lesser place without him.”
“I saw my mom crying and my dad came in and told me Mike had been killed and I started to cry a lot,” said Lucas Kaehr, who played for Jones.
“I was really crushed and heartbroken,” 12-year-old soccer player Jordan Drasman told Silverman. “He was just a really great person.”
Drasman said he started learning soccer from Jones when he was in third grade.
“He really wanted them to do well,” Jordan’s mom, Valerie, added. “It’s really unfathomable.”
Hutchinson said this is a big loss to everyone who knew Jones.
“Not only was he a great coach but his energy, his enthusiasm. He was upbeat, he was always smiling,” Hutchinson told WCBS 880’s Silverman.
“I want everyone to know how loved and respected he was by every person that he touched. The youth in our community are devastated. They loved him. He was their hero,” parent Cathryn Kaehr told CBS 2’s Young.
The Red Bulls released a statement Sunday praising Jones’ work.
“On behalf of the entire organization, want to send our most heartfelt condolences to Michael’s family, friends and loved ones,” the statement said. “He was a tremendous individual, a fantastic coach who loved soccer and a terrific friend for many of us.”
The soccer club is planning a joint memorial for Jones with the Red Bulls. They hope to schedule it for when his father is in town from the United Kingdom so he can see how much his son was loved.
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