TAMPA, Fla. — Detectives are investigating a deadly shooting early Saturday morning in the Riverside Heights neighborhood.
Family identified the victim as Eric Patterson.
The 26-year-old played varsity football at Plant High School in Tampa before playing at Ball State University.
He also played for several teams in the NFL including the Indianapolis Colts and St. Louis Rams.
Officers say around 5 a.m., Patterson's roommate was woken up by commotion at a house in the 500 block of West Plaza Place. The roommate went to the living area and found an unknown person in the house and Patterson on the ground.
"He was in his own home in his own bed and somebody invaded his privacy," said Patterson's aunt, Lana Bembow.
According to police, the unknown person ran from the home.
Patterson was laying on his back and appeared to have been shot. Police arrived and started life saving measures, but he died at an area hospital.
Officers say the shooting does not appear to be random.
"It can't be any other way. He had 3 pitbulls and for these pitbulls not to come after these people, it was somebody that he knew," said Bembow.
Robert Weiner, Patterson's former coach at Plant High School, and former Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Tony Dungy tweeted out some thoughts after learning of Patterson's death.
"As a football player, he showed some amazing flashes during his time here and inspired a lot of people who were younger," said Coach Weiner.
"Very, very well loved by his teammates, easy guy to like, very warm, very sensitive to other people's needs," added Weiner.
Patterson leaves behind two daughters, a 6-year-old and a 7-month-old.
"Not only did you kill my brother, you basically killed us inside and for the rest of our lives my brother is gone," said Patterson's sister, Ashley Clark.
Sad, heartbreaking time for our Plant Panthers Football Family. Eric Patterson will always be a loved Panther. We mourn his passing. Our prayers embrace his family. EP you will never be forgotten. Much love to all our guys. Cherish every moment we have w/ each other #AlwaysALink pic.twitter.com/zoygMJgGpy— Robert Weiner (@plantfball) June 9, 2019
Eric Patterson played at Plant HS with our son Eric. We have heard the story that he was killed but there is no official confirmation and nothing being reported on our news here. Our son is distraught but we cannot find any information either. https://t.co/G1LltMP6ke— Tony Dungy (@TonyDungy) June 9, 2019