Former star high school football player killed, NC cops say. ‘He smiled all the time’

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A former star high school football player was shot and killed in North Carolina, officials say.

Marquiese Coleman, 19, is remembered as a “standout student-athlete” who played for the St. Pauls High School Bulldogs before he graduated in 2020, the Public Schools of Robeson County said Thursday in a Facebook post.

“He walked into a room and he smiled all the time,” school principal Jason Suggs told The Robesonian newspaper. “He was just a great kid.”

But Coleman’s life was cut short after officials said he was shot.

On Thursday morning, Coleman was taken to UNC Southeastern Regional Medical Center in Lumberton, where he was pronounced dead, the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office said.

Deputies in the county roughly 35 miles south of Fayetteville said they responded at about 2:40 a.m. Thursday to the reported shooting on North Alford Road in the town of St. Pauls. In the hours since, Sheriff Burnis Wilkins told McClatchy News that investigators conducted interviews and tried to track down video footage as they searched for clues in the case.

The sheriff said “multiple shots were fired at the scene,” but his office in a Facebook post didn’t say what happened before Coleman’s death or who took him to the hospital in a private vehicle.

“I don’t know a lot about the circumstances but we’re all heartbroken in this community,” Mike Setzer, football coach for St. Pauls High School, told The Fayetteville Observer.

Coleman “averaged more than 180 yards his senior season in 2019” and planned to play football at Fayetteville State University, the newspaper reported.

“As a football player, he didn’t talk a lot, but he played with his heart on his sleeve,” Setzer said, according to The Robesonian. “That’s what I remember about him is a big smile and a never-say-quit kind of attitude. A really great guy; a really solid leader. All our kids looked up to him.”

Coleman’s former school district didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

As of Thursday afternoon, Wilkins said the homicide case was still under investigation. The sheriff’s office has urged people with information to call 910-671-3170 or 910-671-3100.

While the sheriff’s office reports Coleman’s first name is Marquiese, news outlets spell it Marqueise.

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