Man wanted in death of ex-SRU football star surrenders to police

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PITTSBURGH - A man surrendered to police Monday for a second time, wanted in connection with the shooting death of a former college football star.

Zachary Sheridan, 25, was shot and killed on South Bouquet Street early Saturday morning.

An arrest warrant for Isiah Smith, 22, was issued on Monday, two days after he turned himself into police and was subsequently released because there was no warrant. Smith is facing charges that include criminal homicide.

Investigators said Sheridan, of Brookline, and two other men got into a fight around 3:30 a.m. inside the Original Hot Dog Shop in Oakland. The fight spilled outside the eatery and Sheridan and his friends tried to run away when Sheridan was shot once in the back, according to police. He was pronounced dead at 3:45 a.m. at UPMC Presbyterian.

Smith’s attorney, Blaine Jones, said, “Isiah did not initiate any of the physical contact in this situation. In fact, Isiah was getting beaten up, and he defended himself.”

According to the criminal complaint, Smith told police he shot his gun and “let one off into the air.”

Sheridan was an All-Century Conference linebacker at Seton-La Salle High School and a three-year starter at Slippery Rock, graduating in 2011. He played running back, halfback and tight end for Seton-La Salle, and was a special teams player on the 2004 WPIAL Class AA championship team.

“He was a good kid, a fun-loving kid who liked to have a good time,” Seton-La Salle coach Greg Perry said. “This is so sad. I really feel for his parents. He ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time and something happens and he's gone. It leaves us asking questions.”

Michael Caputo said, “All I know is that everybody that came in touch with him loved him.”

“He was a hero on and off the field to everyone who knew him. If you were a part of his life, you were a part of his family,” said Lauren Ziegler. “He's in a better place now, where things like this don't exist.”

Police Sgt. James Vogel told Channel 11’s news exchange partners at TribLIVE that city police had stopped stationing an off-duty officer at the Original Hot Dog Shop in November, but he did not know why.

He believed that the presence of an officer Saturday could have prevented the gunfire.

“Hindsight is 20/20, but I think it would not have happened if an armed officer had been there,” Vogel said.

Slippery Rock University head football coach George Mihalik expressed his devastation upon hearing the news of Sheridan’s death in a press release from the university.

"The Rock Football Family is devastated by the news of Zach's death," Mihalik said. "Zach loved Rock football and Rock football loved Zach. Our sincere sympathy goes out to Zach's family."

Mihalik confirmed via Slippery Rock University Sports Information Director Bob McComas that the university’s football team will wear a commemorative decal with Sheridan’s jersey number, 4, on the back of their helmets during the 2013 season in honor of their former team captain.

A fundraiser for Sheridan will be held at Ginger Hill Tavern in Slippery Rock from 7 to 10 p.m. Monday.

Channel 11’s news exchange partners at TribLIVE contributed to this article.