TOPEKA, Kan. — An 18-year-old Kansas man has been charged in the April attack that wounded New York Giants draft pick Corey Ballentine and killed one of his Washburn University teammates, Dwane Simmons.
Francisco Alejandro Mendez was charged Friday with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder and five counts of aggravated battery in the April 28 attack, the Shawnee County district attorney’s office said in a news release.
Mendez is being held on a $1 million bond. His case doesn’t appear yet in online court records, and his attorney, Victoria Chundak-Gallaway, in an unrelated criminal case didn’t immediately reply to a phone message left Saturday at her office.
The two Washburn defensive backs were outside of an off-campus house party hours after the Giants selected Ballentine in the sixth round of the draft when someone opened fire from a vehicle, killing Simmons and wounding Ballentine, who has since recovered.
Washburn football coach Craig Schurig told the Topeka Capital-Journal that he called Ballentine on Friday to inform him that Mendez had been charged.
“You could tell there was a relief in his voice,” Schurig said. “It just helps — it helps to know that the people responsible are starting to get caught. And this is a big step. It was nice to be able to communicate with him some really good news.”
Schurig said he exchanged texts with Dwane Simmons’ father, Navarro Simmons, earlier Friday.
“You can’t imagine what the Simmons family is going through, but today is a very good day,” the coach said.
Ballentine, who was shot in the rear end, missed the Giants’ rookie minicamp in early May while he recovered. He played in 46 games as a cornerback for Washburn, finishing with 186 tackles, four forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and five interceptions. In his final season, he won the Cliff Harris Award, which goes to the small college defensive player of the year.