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Florida high school ex-quarterback dies in gunfire barrage

By AP | Jul 2, 2021

PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) — A star Florida high school quarterback playing for a Georgia university died after more than 50 gunshots were fired into the car he was driving.

Ladarius Clardy, 18, was found dead with several gunshot wounds before dawn Thursday after the vehicle he was driving crashed at a Pensacola intersection. Local news outlets report an unnamed 19-year-old passenger underwent surgery for gunshot wounds Thursday at a Pensacola hospital. The passenger’s condition was unknown early Friday.

Clardy was attending Kennesaw State University in suburban Atlanta, where he had played in several games.

Escambia County Sheriff Chip Simmons said at a news conference Thursday that investigators are seeking suspects and urged those with information to contact police.

Clardy has been a football and track star at Pensacola’s Pine Forest High School, graduating in 2020 with the high school’s passing record.

“He’s my favorite quarterback of all time,” Pine Forest teammate and current University of Alabama at Birmingham football player Dacarrion McWilliams told the Pensacola News Journal. “I have just been laying in bed all day thinking about how and why this could happen. He was my brother. We grew up together since we were little.”

Clardy’s father is a longtime youth football coach in the Florida panhandle city. His son was also remembered as a strong student and peer leader.

“He had it all,” former Pine Forest head coach Jason McDonald told the News Journal. “From elementary to middle and high school, you couldn’t say enough about him. Great kid in the classroom, hard-worker. He was a natural-born leader.”

Clardy had played briefly in two games for Kennesaw State and was returning for his sophomore season. The Georgia university said it will offer grief counseling to Clardy’s teammates.

“We are devastated and heartbroken over the death of Ladarius Clardy,” Kennesaw State head football coach Brian Bohannon said in a statement. “Ladarius was an excellent teammate and left a mark on this program with his positive attitude. He will be deeply missed.”