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Police arrest teammate in connection with 2006 slaying of former University of Miami football player

The killing of Bryan Pata has hung over the famed gridiron program for 15 years.
Teammates of Bryan Pata of the University of Miami Hurricanes say a prayer over a mural of Pata at Orange Bowl Stadium on Nov. 23, 2006 in Miami.
Teammates of Bryan Pata of the University of Miami Hurricanes say a prayer over a mural of Pata at the Orange Bowl stadium in Miami on Nov. 23, 2006.Doug Benc / Getty Images file

Florida police on Thursday arrested the teammate of star University of Miami football player Bryan Pata, who was gunned down 15 years ago, authorities said.

Rashaun Jones, 35, a former Hurricanes defensive back, was arrested and booked on suspicion of Pata's slaying on Nov. 7, 2006, Miami-Dade police said.

Jones was picked up by U.S. marshals. It wasn't immediately clear whether he had been assigned an attorney Thursday afternoon.

"I can only hope that this brings the Pata family a little bit of closure, a little bit of satisfaction, knowing that at least the person who took Bryan's life is now in custody," Police Detective Juan Segovia said in a videotaped message. "I want to thank the Pata family ... because it's been 15 years of waiting, 15 years of missing Bryan, 15 years of waiting for results."

Pata, a star defensive lineman from Miami, was shot outside his apartment in Kendall, Florida.

Jones has previously told investigators he was home when Pata was killed about 7 p.m., according to the police affidavit and arrest warrant.

Jones' cellphone was picked up by a tower about 2.2 miles from Pata's building at 6:41 p.m. on Nov. 7, the court document said.

A neighbor said he heard a "pop" noise, followed the sound and got "a clear and unobstructed view of" the suspect's face, according to the warrant.

That witness picked out Jones from a photo lineup June 24, 2007, and again in September 2020, the affidavit said.

Pata "had ongoing issues with" Jones before the murder, according to the court document which touched only lightly on a potential motive.

"It was learned that the victim had previously beaten the subject during an altercation," the affidavit said.

Pata's unsolved murder has hung over the famed football program, and it has been the subject of years of speculation in South Florida.

"For us, we always say it's not a sprint, it's a marathon. For us, it's about getting it right," Segovia said.

"The community never stopped contacting us," he said. "And even if we got a thousand tips but only one of them was the one that actually put the pieces together, that's what it took, and that's exactly what happened in this case."

It wasn't immediately clear whether a court date had been scheduled.

“The Pata family has waited a long time to see the individual they had believed involved in Brian’s death arrested and charged,” Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said in a statement.

“While the time needed to build sufficient evidence to ethically charge in a homicide can sometimes feel endless, families should know that the passion and determination of police and prosecutors to resolve unsolved cases does not diminish."