Former Jets, USC RB Joe McKnight Fatally Shot at Age 28

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured Columnist

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 23:  (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT)      Joe McKnight #25 of the New York Jets looks on against the San Diego Chargers at MetLife Stadium on December 23, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Chragers defeated the Jets 27-17.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Former USC Trojans and New York Jets running back Joe McKnight was shot to death on Dec. 1 in Terrytown, Louisiana, following an argument at an intersection, according to the Times-Picayune's Jonathan Bullington.

Family members reportedly identified McKnight after arriving at the scene. He was 28 years old.

According to Bullington, a witness said the alleged shooter, identified as Ronald Gasser by Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand, approached McKnight and said, "I told you, don't you f--k with me."

Meg Gatto of Fox8Live.com reported on Tuesday that "court records show man named Ronald Gasser arrested for manslaughter in Jefferson Parish."

Bullington provided additional details on the incident on Dec. 2:

Ronald Gasser, the man authorities say shot and killed [McKnight], was released from custody overnight without being charged, Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office authorities said Friday morning...

Authorities named the shooter as Ronald Gasser, 54, and said he stayed at the scene and turned his gun in to officers. Gasser was in custody and was being questioned, Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand said. The sheriff said McKnight did not have a gun, and deputies did not find a gun outside McKnight's vehicle.

Normand told reporters on Tuesday that McKnight approached Gasser's car without a gun after both "drove for miles shouting and cutting each other off."

Normand said Gasser fired his weapon from inside his car, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk on Dec. 2.

Normand also revealed a former employee of the department had close ties to McKnight, per Florio"Of course, where that leads us at this point in time is that everybody wants to make this about race. This isn't about race. And I'll just throw this out folks so that everybody knows and there's no hiding the ball. The gentleman that raised Joe McKnight used to work for this office."

Arizona Cardinals defensive back and New Orleans native Tyrann Mathieu posted several messages on Twitter after the news broke:

Former Trojans players Reggie Bush, Su'a Cravens and Matt Leinart and coach Pete Carroll also expressed their condolences:

Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis and former Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie spoke about the tragedy:

"Joe McKnight was a loving father and a genuine, kindhearted person," the Jets said in a statement. "It is sad when life is taken in what appears to be such a senseless act of violence. Joe, you will be missed."

McKnight's stepfather, Elmo Lee, said McKnight was going to be signed by the Minnesota Vikings before his death, per Fox8Live.com.

"I just want people to know that this was not a troubled kid," Lee said. "The boy was just trying to make it back in the NFL, that's all he wanted to do. That was his whole dream since six years old. I've been knowing him from six, and this is just senseless, and it has to stop. Somewhere it has to stop."

A three-year standout at USC, McKnight rushed for 2,213 yards and 13 touchdowns from 2007 to 2009. His breakout campaign came during his junior season, when he ripped off 6.2 yards per carry while posting 1,014 yards and eight scores on the ground.

McKnight declared for the 2010 NFL draft, and he was selected in the fourth round by the Jets. He spent three years in New York, largely serving as a rotational running back and an electric kick returner. 

In 39 games with the Jets, McKnight amassed 502 rushing yards and 177 receiving yards. He also recorded 29 yards per return on kickoffs and two touchdowns during his successful stint on special teams. 

In 2011, his 31.6 yards per return ranked No. 1 among all qualified players. 

McKnight latched on with the Kansas City Chiefs for a brief stretch during the 2014 season, but he appeared in only two games before making his way to the Canadian Football League.

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