ABOVE PHOTO: Tyson Gay (Photo: thelefty / Shutterstock.com)
By Gary B. Graves
LEXINGTON, Ky. — Three men have been charged in connection with a shootout police say left the 15-year-old daughter of Olympic sprinter Tyson Gay dead.
Trinity Gay died at a Lexington, Kentucky hospital Sunday after she was shot in the neck around 4 a.m. during an exchange of gunfire between people in two parked vehicles in the parking lot of a nearby Cook Out restaurant.
Dvonta Middlebrooks fired multiple shots during the incident, Lexington police investigators said Sunday. He was charged with wanton endangerment and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. A father and son were also charged Sunday. Chazerae Taylor, 38, and his 19-year-old son D’Markeo Taylor both face wanton endangerment counts, police said in an online statement.
A hearing for the three men is scheduled Monday afternoon at Fayette County District Court.
Police spokeswoman Brenna Angel said police don’t believe Trinity Gay was in either of the vehicles involved.
Tyson Gay said he and his daughter were very close, according to Lexington TV station WLEX, which spoke to him Sunday.
“It’s so crazy. I have no idea what happened,” Gay told the station.
Grief counselors were at Lexington’s Lafayette High School on Monday for students and staff, Fayette County Public Schools spokeswoman Lisa Deffendall said. Both Gay and his daughter attended the school.
Lafayette principal Bryne Jacobs, teacher Rhonda Mullins and girls track coach Crystal Washington all described Trinity Gay as a friendly, outgoing student and person. She dreamed of becoming a surgeon.
“She was full of energy and life,” said Mullins, who had Gay in consumer science classes along with the Future Educators of America club. “She was a kid that everybody wanted to teach.”
Near the end of a Monday morning news conference, grief counselors brought in a large purple banner bearing a hashtag that read “#LLT” for Long Live Trinity and adorned with expressions from students and staff. A therapy dog named Hannah Joy is also on hand to help with students’ emotions.
Jacobs said he talked with Trinity Gay’s mother, Shoshana Boyd, who also attended Lafayette. The principal said Boyd thanked him for support from the school and community, and noted that her life was something to celebrate.
“Our hearts are burdened that she is not in our building anymore,” Jacobs said.
A vigil is planned at 8 p.m. Monday on the school’s track, where Trinity Gay excelled.
Trinity Gay was a standout sprinter, placing in the top five in several events at the state championships in May. Her father still holds the state record in the 100 set in 2001.
“A lot of athletes didn’t want to race her,” Washington said, “but they also felt like they wanted to beat her today.”
Tyson Gay competed in the last three Summer Olympics. He was part of a team that won a silver medal in the 4×100-meter relay at the 2012 London Games, though that medal was ultimately stripped after Gay tested positive for steroids in 2013.
Last summer’s Games in Rio featured another stinging disappointment for Gay, 33, who has battled injuries. He was a member of the American men’s 4×100-meter relay team that finished third in the final before being disqualified for an illegal baton exchange between Mike Rodgers and Justin Gatlin. The team’s appeal was denied, giving Canada the bronze medal.
The sports world has been mourning the news of the death on social media.
USA Track and Field tweeted, “Sending our thoughts & prayers to @TysonLGay & his loved ones as they mourn the tragic & senseless loss of his daughter, Trinity.” Several of Gay’s USA track teammates echoed the comment, including Natasha Hastings and Arman Hall.
Former NFL wide receiver Santonio Holmes, NBA veteran Vince Carter and tennis great Martina Navratilova have also tweeted messages of support for Gay.