A 21-year-old Arkansas State University football player was killed Wednesday night in a home-invasion robbery, authorities said.
Jerry Scott, a spokesman for the university's athletic department, said Markel Owens died in his hometown of Jackson, Tenn.
“Our worst fears were realized as an athletics department after being notified early this morning about the unfortunate news about Markel,” Athletic Director Terry Mohajir said in a statement. “We're deeply [saddened] and our utmost sympathies go out to his family, teammates and classmates."
Jackson police say Owens and 36-year-old Johnny Shivers were both killed in the robbery, which unfolded about 9:30 p.m. at a duplex at 770 Walker Road. Owens' mother, who was married to Shivers, was also shot. The 37-year-old woman was treated and released from a local hospital.
According to the police statement, Shivers was arriving home when two masked men jumped him and forced their way into the apartment. The men then demanded money and a fight broke out.
Owens and Shivers were both shot during the struggle. One of the robbers then shot Owens' mother, police said, before the two men fled the home with a large amount of cash, possibly in a white Honda Civic. Shivers died at the scene. Owens was taken to Jackson-Madison County General Hospital, where he died.
A large amount of marijuana was discovered inside the apartment during the investigation, the police statement noted. Investigators say they believe Shivers was targeted in the robbery and that the men knew the cash and drugs were inside the home.
Several Red Wolves players expressed remorse on Twitter, where Owens posted under the handle @Oskie2Real.
Placekicker Brian Davis posted it was "like losing one of my brothers."
"You always were looking out for me," he wrote on Twitter. "Love you @Oskie2Real one of the best teammates I've ever had."
A message of remorse was also posted on the team's official football Twitter account.
"Today is a tough day for the Red Wolves family," the message wrote. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to Markel Owens' family and friends at this difficult time."
Coach Blake Anderson called Owens "a well-liked and respected member of our team who will be missed."
“We are doing everything possible to comfort his teammates, and we extend our compassion to his family during this difficult time,” Anderson said in a statement.
Owens, who would've been a fifth-year senior defensive lineman next season, played in 11 games during the 2013 season, finishing with four total tackles and one tackle for loss, according to his statistics posted on the ASU athletics website.
Owens recorded one tackle in the Red Wolves' Jan. 5 23-20 win over Ball State in the GoDaddy bowl.
ArkansasOnline will continue to update this developing story. See Friday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.