Former University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff football player Lydell Hartford Jr. was killed in an accidental shooting early Tuesday morning in Waggaman, La., the university announced. He was 20.
According to UAPB coach Monte Coleman, Hartford spent the 2012 season as a squad member on the Golden Lions football team, which won the Southwestern Athletic Conference championship. His name did not appear on UAPB’s 2012 roster.
He did not participate in the team’s spring drills in April, Coleman said.
“He was on the team one year and decided to go back home,” Coleman said. “It’s a tragedy that a young man lost his life at a young age. Our condolences are with him and his family.”
According to a UAPB news release, citing authorities, a 16-year-old boy who was identified as Hartford’s friend was playing with a gun and accidentally shot and killed him. Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office spokesman Glen T. Boyd said Hartford was pronounced dead after suffering a gunshot wound to the neck.
“It is a shock to us all,” UAPB Chancellor Laurence Alexander said in the release. “We are saddened by the news of his death and offer our condolences, thoughts and prayers to his family and friends during this difficult time.”
According to the release, Hartford and the teen were inside a 2012 Chevrolet Camaro belonging to Hartford’s mother that was parked in the driveway of Hartford’s home. The teen began to remove the bullets from a .38-caliber pistol he discovered inside the car and was warned by Hartford to stop. The teen, according to the release, ignored Hartford and kept unloading bullets until he thought the gun was empty.
According to the news release, the teen squeezed the trigger three or four times until the pistol fired a bullet that struck Hartford in the neck. The boy then pulled Hartford out of the car and laid him on the driveway. Boyd said Hartford died about an hour later.
Coleman said he would discuss any plans for the team to honor Hartford during the season with UAPB athletic director Lonza Hardy Jr. The Golden Lions’ season begins Aug. 31 at Arkansas State.
“He was a good kid and loved being on the team,” UAPB linebackers coach Earl Buckingham said in the release. “Our team is hurting and offers our condolences to his family and all those that knew him.”