DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - The man who coached a murdered Savannah State University student in high school calls the victim "just a great kid."
Christopher Starks, 22, died Thursday night from his wounds following an altercation inside the Savannah State Student Union. Emergency personnel rushed Starks to Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Starks attended Miller Grove High School in DeKalb County, where he lettered in football and track and field. Teacher and Football Coach Damien Wimes said Starks was looking forward to college when he graduated in 2012.
Wimes met Starks when Starks was just 5-years-old. Wimes, who was coaching at Southwest DeKalb High School at the time, allowed Starks to act as the ball boy for the football team.
"He always loved football, but Chris was so much more than football. He sang in the chorus here. He went to church, sometimes worked in his family's restaurant. He was just great kid," Wimes said with tears in his eyes Friday morning.
Coach Wimes added, "All he wanted to do was make his dad and his grandfather proud. That's all."
"Christopher was a God-fearing and loving young man who knew what he wanted out of life," the victim's uncle, Pastor Collier Starks, told FOX 5's Portia Bruner. "I'm all out of tears over this senseless act of violence. Our family doesn't believe in hate, so we just have to pray God has a plan… even if we don't understand it. Perhaps, God just wanted another young and talented man at his side."
Starks lettered in football and track & field and hoped to continue his football career in career.
Starks joined Appalachian State's football program as a 2012 signee and red-shirted for his freshman year, but he suffered a season-ending injury in 2013 and left the program after the 2014 spring semester.
The shooting violence prompted a lockdown on the Savannah State campus that's since been lifted, but the university delayed classes until 10:00 a.m. Friday morning.
On Thursday night, Savannah State University posted on their Facebook page that "SSU campus is on lockdown following a shooting incident at/near the Student Union. Please stay in place and cooperate with police officers."
According to a news release, the university's police department has requested the GBI Statesboro Regional Office to investigate the shooting death.
The GBI release states the shooting appeared to be an isolated incident. An autopsy will be performed by the GBI Medical Examiner's Office in Savannah.