TAMPA, Fla. — A dispute in Ybor City that escalated to a victim being punched is now a homicide investigation, according to the Tampa Police Department.
Dionne Neal says the victim is her son, 25-year-old Dyante Neal.
"Just a great young man with so much life and promise," she said, surrounded by photos of her son and old letters teachers wrote positively about him.
"His goal was to become a PE teacher and coach kids," Dionne said.
Neal said they moved to Tampa less than a year ago.
"I brought a good young man down here, not a trouble maker," Dionne said.
She said Dyante planned to go back to school and become involved in football, a sport she said he shined at. At the time, he was working at different temp agencies.
She encouraged her son to go out and meet new friends. She said he was enjoying a night out with them before things took a deadly turn.
She got a call the next morning.
"I just collapsed at work because this just cannot be. I just saw my son the day before and the last words was, 'Mom, why does it take so long to make spaghetti,'" Neal said.
Police said on September 26 around 2:30 a.m., Dyante became involved in a verbal dispute in the 1700 block of 7th Avenue.
"From all indications the victim tried to avoid that conflict, tried to walk away, tried to avoid the conflict repeatedly. It continued and at some point people started to gather. I don’t know if they all knew each other or not," said Steve Hegarty, a public information officer with the Tampa Police Department.
According to police 32-year-old Justin Jasper got out of a vehicle and punched Dyante.
"It was very sudden. The victim went down and his head struck the pavement," Hegarty said. "Moments after that there was sort of a bluetooth speaker, sort of a portable speaker that the assailant grabbed then threw down by the victim. I don’t know if he hit him or not."
Neal was rushed to the hospital. He was declared dead on October 1. His family says his organs were donated.
"So even with me losing my son, he was able to save 8 lives," said Dionne.
On Friday, TPD arrested Jasper and charged him with manslaughter.
"It's kind of bizarre. You do not expect that when somebody gets punched that they might die from that but we have seen it," Hegarty said.
Meanwhile, he encouraged people to call them if they see any similar situation.
"Well it breaks my heart it also gives me a sense of help, hope and healing which is what we do at the crisis center, because our work is not done and we have to continue to motivate individuals to help each other out," said Angelina Adorno, a coordinator for the Green Dot violence prevention program through the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay.
The program works to reduce violence in part by offering presentations and bystander training on warning signs of violence and intervention.
"I think we are making a dent. Ybor is a wonderful place full of tourists, fully of Tampanians, everyone from all over Florida. But crime happens everywhere, violence can happen everywhere and we need to learn more skills on how to reduce that," she said.
While police work to piece together the case, Dionne is determined to find justice for her son.
"I need to find justice for my child and I will never rest until I do," she said.