High school football community mourns the death of EJ Utley

ej utley
Posted at 3:38 PM, Feb 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-05 20:03:13-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn (WTVF) — Family, friends and community members are mourning the loss of a 15-year-old who was shot and killed outside his home Thursday afternoon.

Metro Nashville police say a female was outside with him on his front porch when a man, who was hiding nearby, shot him. The gunman and female ran away. Utley was taken to the hospital but died hours later.

Utley's coaches and friends say they're heartbroken and that he had a bright future ahead of him.

"All the young men in our football program are our kids essentially. Oftentimes throughout the football season we’re spending more time with them then our own kids," said Coach Anthony Brown. "Definitely looked at him like a son and we had a lot of conversations, a lot of conversations just regarding life, aspirations, goals, things of that nature. He was just a great young man gone way too soon."

Brown was EJ's world history teacher and assistant football coach at Hillsboro High School.

"He was definitely a power five kid, young man was definitely going to be recruited by many power five schools. Some people say the It factor, he had the It factor. As a 6’3, 180 pound freshman he played a lot for us on varsity and special teams as a freshman," said Brown.

Coach Brown says he just spoke with EJ the day before his murder to discuss an assignment.

"It’s disheartening to think about and I can imagine what the family going through right now, I couldn’t imagine who would want to harm EJ in that manner whatsoever," said Brown. "It’s disheartening, it’s just a very tough few days that we are going through here."

Coach Brown says grief counseling and talk through sessions will be available for the players.

EJ's murder is still under investigation.

On Friday, police named two people as suspects: 15-year-old Trameisha Farris and 16-year-old Wilton Alexander. Juvenile Court arrest orders were issued for them both.