TAMPA, FL (WFLA) – A USF football after-party at an Ybor City nightclub turned deadly early Sunday morning.
Former standout, USF defensive lineman Elkino Watson died after he was stabbed in a fight outside the club. His friend, football player Desmond Horne, was also stabbed and is recovering at Tampa General Hospital.
Friends are heartsick. Watson’s girlfriend, Diamond Hall, says the senseless fight started because Watson was protecting her. She tells 8 On Your Side all was well until a guy she didn’t know approached and and “was disrespectful,” flirting with her. She turned him down, and things got ugly.
“He got upset, I guess he felt dis-respected, so he punched me in my face,” Hall said.
She got Watson and they were set to leave with their USF football friends when the guy approached them outside and started trouble again. “It became a big brawl,” she said. “Elkino was fighting so many people. His teammates tried to help him.”
But the other guys had knives, and Watson and Horne were stabbed. Police, some on horseback, broke up the fight and Watson ran away from the trouble, Hall said, not even realizing he had been stabbed. Then he collapsed in a nearby parking lot, bleeding heavily.
He later died at Tampa General Hospital.
Watson and Hall have a 6-month old baby girl together. She says she’s heartbroken their daughter, Kennedy, won’t ever know her father. “There’s certain things a mom can’t provide,” she said. “There’s certain things like I can’t say it like he would say it to her. I won’t be able to get through to her like he would.”
Watson also has another daughter in Miami. Her 3rd birthday party is scheduled for this Friday, and she’s expecting her father to be there.
Watson’s friends remember him as a standout on the football field and as a great friend and father. Todd Chandler grew up with Watson in Miami and played football with him at USF.
“He was a great person,” he said. “I can’t believe he’s gone.”
Chandler and other friends set up an account online to raise money to pay for funeral expenses and help Watson’s children. You can find that account here: http://www.gofundme.com/xw3kth8c
Meanwhile, early Monday USF Coach Willie Taggart declared Ybor City “off limits” to his players, saying there are plenty of places for his players to have fun in Tampa, and Ybor City is no longer one of them.
Then later Monday afternoon, USF Athletics Director of Athletics Mark Harlan sent this statement to News Channel 8:
“I would like to make clear USF Athletics high regard for Ybor City and its cherished and historical place in our Bay Area community and culture. Earlier today, our football coach spoke out of emotion and in reaction to the tragic loss of Elkino Watson, a member of our football program from 2011-2014. USF Athletics will continue to focus on reinforcing its policy of student-athletes making smart decisions where ever they may be, looking out for one another, and walking away from any situation that appears threatening. They will not be banned from visiting any areas of our beautiful city.”