SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) — A recent Central Texas high school graduate was the victim of a homicide Sunday afternoon at an apartment complex near Texas State University.
Police said the investigation took place at 1415 Craddock Avenue, which is the address for the Cottages at San Marcos. In a Monday update, SMPD said officers responded to the complex at about 2:22 p.m. on Sunday after reports of someone who had been shot.
Officers found one victim, who was identified as Lavonte Benford, 19. He was pronounced dead at the scene, police said.
The Manor Independent School District confirmed Monday that Benford was a Spring 2021 graduate who was also known as “Red.”
Benford was not a student at Texas State. According to Manor High School Head Football Coach and Athletics Director James Keller, Benford was living in San Marcos with his brother with a goal of becoming a welder. Keller coached Benford growing up.
On Monday, Jon Bailey, Benford’s former middle and high school principal, posted a tribute on Facebook, saying in part: “We shared several conversations, and would always talk about how you excelled academically and in athletics (I miss these moments). Rest in Heaven young man and I am praying for your family!… *We are losing too many of our youth to gun violence.”
Bailey also told KXAN Benford was on one of his leadership committees, because of his impact at school and trustworthy character.
“He was just an exceptional student,” Bailey said. “He really had a big heart and truly was caring and compassionate for the students he interacted with.”
Manor ISD told KXAN “Red” was a student-athlete and well-known for his skill and abilities in football and track, saying: “We will forever cherish Red’s memory at Manor ISD and will never forget his picture-perfect smile.”
Keller said Benford was like one of his own sons.
“Something about this smile, he always had a big ol’ smile on his face,” Keller said. “The first thing I did was call his mom. His mom was there at the crime scene, and she told me what happened.”
Though police haven’t released any details about what exactly happened, it’s raising questions about safety at the apartment complex. It’s marketed as “upscale student living” on its website, and many Texas State students live there.
“I would like to see some cameras, because there aren’t any cameras up,” said Madison Schaney, a Texas State student. “And maybe like a gate with a code, so that not just anyone can get in, because that’s part of the problem.”
KXAN has reported on at least three shootings at this complex in the past year alone, including this one.
“At this point I would like to move somewhere else, yeah,” Schaney said.
The complex’s office was closed on Monday, and staff has not responded to KXAN’s email addressing those concerns.
Officers are talking with witnesses and working to identify a suspect. No arrests have been made yet, SMPD said.
An autopsy will be done to confirm how Benford died, police said. This is an isolated incident, and there is no threat to the public.
This is SMPD’s fourth homicide investigation in 2021.