Written by Hillsboro Free Press Tuesday, 25 September 2012 13:47
The Tabor College football team, student body, faculty, staff, coaches and community are mourning the loss of a teammate, classmate and friend.
Brandon Brown, 26, a junior transfer student from Sacramento, Calif., died Saturday evening from injuries suffered in an altercation that occurred during the early hours of Sept. 16 in McPherson.
In a statement from the college late Saturday, President Jules Glanzer said the Tabor community wished to extend sympathies to Brown’s immediate family and many friends during this time of tragedy and loss.
Glanzer called for students and the college community to be unified during this difficult period.
“We gather as one campus to grieve together, support each other with prayer and love, and seek the comfort of the living Christ,” he said.
Counseling services were made available to students through the Tabor College student life office.
A memorial service for Brown was planned for 11 a.m. Tuesday at the Hillsboro Mennonite Brethren Church. The service was planned with the college community in mind, but was to be open to the public.
A Brandon Brown Relief Fund has been established with Emprise Bank at Hillsboro to assist family members with travel and medical expenses.
Hours prior to Brown’s death, one person was arrested Saturday in connection with the incident. Alton Lamont Franklin, 19, of Dallas, Texas, was charged with aggravated battery on a $100,000 bond.
McPherson Police Chief Robert McClarty said those charges may change now that Brown has died.
Franklin was listed on the McPherson College football roster in 2011, but not this fall. School officials confirmed that Franklin is enrolled as a student.
The McPherson Police Department said the investigation “is still active and ongoing.” Assisting the local department are the McPherson County Sheriff’s Office and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.
Last Tuesday, officers did arrest Tabor student Ilai Eteaki, 21, of Santa Ana Calif., on suspicion of battery to a law enforcement officer. McClarty characterized the arrest as an unrelated incident.
The arrest of Franklin was the first public confirmation that the Sept. 16 incident involved at least one student at McPherson College, though the connection was widely discussed. It also was inferred in official communications between the two colleges.
On Wednesday, Michael Schneider, McPherson College president, addressed a message to the Tabor community in which he said his institution “is cooperating fully with all local and state authorities to aid the investigation of this incident.”
He added, “I want you to know how deeply we regret this pointless act of violence, and express our solidarity with you as we all grieve this deplorable incident.”
The following day, Glanzer responded with a message that said in part, “The incidents of the past week that involved students from our respective schools have brought all of us much pain, raised many questions, and caused us to ponder the work that we do. Like you, we hurt, grieve and are asking questions.”
Both presidents expressed a desire that the two Christian college work together to maintain mutual respect and appreciation, and embody the values of Jesus. “We will not tolerate those who perpetuate violence or disrespect among us,” Schneider wrote.
In his statement, Glanzer wrote, “Naturally, our desire is that all those involved from both schools will be held responsible for their actions. But we hold no animosity in our hearts for anyone. Rather we have sorrow for both the victim and the perpetrators. We are learning that forgiveness comes at many levels.”
A hard week
The week following the incident was marked by days in which Brown’s condition seemed to worsen, then stabilize.
Doctors at Via Christi-St. Francis Hospital in Wichita performed an emergency medical procedure Friday, and Brown seemed to be responding positively to it, according to Glanzer.
Eight members of the Brown family arrived from California soon after the incident to be at Brandon’s side. On Friday they called a news conference to talk about their son.
“If you met him, you’ll love him,” Brandon’s father, Craig Brown, said, according to the Wichita Eagle. “He’s not somebody that goes out looking for trouble, but he’ll defend himself if he has to.”
Family members also expressed gratitude for the way the Tabor community express care and support in the days following the incident. They also asked that anyone who has information about the incident to come forward to police.
Family members visited the Tabor campus for the first time Sunday. They were hosted for a meal in the cafeteria, met with faculty and students and toured the campus, including the stadium where their son practiced football as a red-shirt freshman, and the room in which he lived.
Included among the survivors are Brown’s 3-year-old son and 7-month-old daughter.