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University of Memphis football player killed on campus

  • Story Highlights
  • NEW: Coach says the 21-year old was a popular student
  • University of Memphis football player Taylor Bradford, shot dead
  • Initial investigation suggests attack was not random, police say
  • Classes canceled Monday but are expected to resume Tuesday
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(CNN) -- A University of Memphis football player was shot and killed on campus Sunday night, prompting administration officials to cancel classes and plead for anyone with information to come forward.

Police said defensive lineman Taylor Bradford, 21, apparently was shot around 9:45 p.m. (10:45 ET) Sunday.

The 5-foot-11-inch, 300-pound junior apparently then got into his car, drove a short distance and hit a tree near the campus residence hall area.

Bradford, of Nashville, Tennessee, was pronounced dead at Regional Medical Center.

The university locked down the residence halls and canceled classes for Monday as an "early precaution" against the possibility there was an armed attacker on campus, university President Shirley Raines said.

Raines said the school did not activate its newly installed emergency public address system because university police determined the campus was not in imminent danger.

Witnesses told police they saw people they suspect were the assailants fleeing the scene, Raines said.

University police said the Memphis Police Department's homicide bureau is assisting in the investigation. Officials said they hope that surveillance cameras in the area will yield clues.

Memphis Director of Police Services Larry Godwin said that because such crimes are rare on the university campus Bradford "may very well have been targeted."

"We're looking at everything," he said. "We're hoping that someone will step forward with some information to point us in the right direction."

Residence halls reopened early Monday, and classes are expected to resume Tuesday.

On Monday, offices at the university were open so students could have access to counseling and talk with faculty and staff, said university spokesman Curt Guenther.

Raines said she and head football coach Tommy West met with Bradford's parents and other family members to express their condolences.

West said Bradford was "very popular within our team, very popular on our campus. Very upbeat, very up-tempo personality. Always smiling, always talking. Very well-liked on this campus."

Bradford, a marketing major, transferred to the University of Memphis from Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, according to the Univeristy of Memphis football team's Web site.

The University of Memphis had 20,562 students last fall and about 2,500 employees, according to the school's Web site.

On September 21 two students at Delaware State University were wounded in shootings.

There will be a moment of silence at Tuesday night's scheduled football game against Marshall University to honor Bradford. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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