A very promising college basketball player was gunned down in a New Jersey nature preserve shortly before Christmas over a small quantity of marijuana, police say.
At around 7 p.m. on December 17, police arrived at the Hopewell Valley Nature Preserve, about 10 miles north of Trenton, where they found Phil Urban, a 20-year-old basketball player at Post University.
Urban was “slumped over” the wheel of his white C-class Mercedes. The car was parked on a preserve trail, and Urban was clearing in medical distress, having sustained a serious gunshot wound.
Police immediately rushed him to a nearby hospital, where he was later pronounced dead a short time later.
The investigation indicated that Urban had gone to the preserve “to meet an acquaintance” and was shot “at some point during the encounter,” Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo Onofri and Hopewell Police Chief James Rosso said in a news release.
As the investigation went on, it now suggest that Urban had met up with two teenagers, one 16, and one 17, who had supposedly lured Urban to the park with the intention of robbing him of about a quarter-pound of marijuana worth approximately $800.
A week after the shooting, the two suspects, whose names have not been released because of their age, were slapped with a long list of serious charges, including murder, felony murder, robbery, weapons offenses, and more.
They are currently being detained at the Middlesex County Youth Detention Center in New Jersey.
There is a chance they may be tried as adults, and it is currently unclear when they are expected to appear next in court.
Several coaches remarked on his sense of humor and his quiet determination on the court.
“He was a good kid,” said Post University men’s basketball coach Marc Kuntz. “He had no issues at Post. I cannot speak to the situation other than to say that it’s tragic.”
“His quiet sense of humor was infectious, and he was a valuable part of our basketball program,” Kuntz added.
A statement released by Urban’s former club team, the New Jersey Panthers, claimed that Urban “had a great sense of humor and was one of the most well-liked student-athletes in our organization by both players and staff alike.”
Urban was a 6’6 204lb Freshman forward for Division II Post University in Waterbury, Connecticut, from Manalapan, New Jersey and averaged 2.5 points per game. He is survived by at least one sister, according to reports.
The Post University community is heartbroken to learn of the death of freshman student, Philip Urban. As a member of the Men’s basketball team and a Business Administration major, Philip modeled the attributes of leadership, commitment and hard work on the court and in the classroom. The Post University community expresses its deepest condolences and sympathy to Phil’s family, friends, teammates and all of those who loved him.”
“Phil was well liked by everyone in the Post community. His quiet sense of humor was infectious and he was a valuable part of our basketball program,” head men’s basketball coach Marc Kuntz said in a statement.
Thanks to our friends at The Blaze for contributing to this article.
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