MAGNOLIA, Ark. (KTHV) – A Southern Arkansas University student and a former student have both died following an early morning shooting.
According to the Columbia County Sheriff's Office (CCSO), deputies were dispatched to the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) on Highway 82 East at 1:13 Sunday in reference to a fight with shots fired.
Deputies said SAU senior wide receiver Brandon T. Hobdy, 23, of Garland, TX, and former student Wayne A. Payton, 24, were both taken to the Magnolia Regional Medical Center—one by ambulance and one by car. Both later died as a result of their injuries.
According to a press release from SAU, CCSO has said several people were removed from the VFW after causing a disturbance; those people got into a red vehicle, pulled out a weapon, and began shooting indiscriminately into the crowd. The press release stated that both Hobdy and Payton were innocent bystanders.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Hobdy and Payton families. A tragedy for one of our families is a tragedy for all of us," said SAU President Dr. David Rankin. "All of the resources in the region are directed toward bringing the perpetrators of this event to justice."
SAU's Mulerider Athletics Department released a statement on Hobdy's death earlier Sunday:
Southern Arkansas University and its athletic department mourn the tragic loss of senior football player Brandon Hobdy, who was fatally shot in an off-campus incident in the early hours of Sunday, August 24.
'Everyone at Southern Arkansas is deeply saddened by this tragic news' said SAU Athletic Director Steve Browning. 'Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Hobdy family in particular and to all those that are affected by this tragedy.'
Hobdy, 23, a native of Garland, Texas, played wide receiver on the SAU football team and was slated to be a significant contributor for the Mulerider offense this coming season.
Last season was Hobdy's first at SAU after he transferred in from Bakersfield College in Bakersfield, Calif.
A candlelight vigil was held at the SAU Football field at 9 p.m. Sunday night so others in the community could pay respects. The university was kind enough to share photos of the vigil.
SAU said counseling is available through its staff and will continue to be provided; the Office of Counseling and Testing can be reached at (870) 235-4145.
Police have not given details on what the fight leading to the shooting was about, but they did say they are investigating the shooting as a double homicide.
If anyone has information about this incident, they are asked to call the sheriff's office at (870) 234-5655.