JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – One of four men gunned down in 20 hours over the weekend in Jacksonville was a professional football player and former Arlington Country Day School standout.
Thomas Gordon, 30, played arena football for several years after being released by the Kansas City Chiefs in 2012. The chiefs had signed him four months earlier as an undrafted free agent, according to a social media site.
Gordon, a wide receiver, was cut before the start of the 2012 NFL season but found a home in the Indoor Football League, where he played from 2012-2015 for the Wyoming Cavalry, Bemidji Axemen, Green Bay Blizzard and Billings Wolves.
Before turning pro, Gordon played college football at Kentucky Wesleyan, where he was a second-team all-conference selection and the team's leading rusher with 555 yards in 2009.
News4Jax found video of Gordon, who wore No. 21, playing for the Cavalry. It shows a player fast on his feet and full of life.
That life ended early Sunday morning on a street in Gordon's hometown.
According to police, Gordon was shot dead just after 12:30 a.m. Sunday near the intersection of West 8th and Tyler streets, more than 10 miles from his Arlington home.
Officers said they responded to the area after gunfire was captured on the city's ShotSpotter surveillance system. They have no description of a shooter and have not said what the motive might be.
“The way he died is not anything close to representative of the way he lived,” said Law Johnson, Gordon's mentor and former coach, who said losing the young man was like losing a son.
Gordon (pictured with Johnson) had been set to move to Los Angeles this fall to coach running backs at Pierce College.
Johnson said Gordon’s memory and determination to succeed will never die.
“(He's) somebody you can point to and say, 'He did it.' If he can do it, anybody can do it,” Johnson said. “If Thomas Gordon can make it, you can make it.”
James Sims at Pierce College told News4Jax he mentored Gordon and traveled with him as Gordon applied to schools. Sims said Gordon was like a son to him.
”Had this tragic event not occurred, he would have been here in February or March. This tragedy has taken a piece of my heart that can never be replaced. The person who did this doesn't realize that not only did they kill Thomas, they killed pieces of many people throughout the community," Sims said in a statement.
Gordon left an impact on the football field and in many hearts.
His Facebook profile was flooded this week with messages of pain and sorrow, including several remembering his days as a football player.
Gordon's funeral will be at 10 a.m. Jan. 20 at The Citadel Church on Lone Star Road. The family will have a viewing from 5-8 p.m. Jan. 19 at James Graham Mortuary on Moncrief Road.
Anyone with information about Gordon's shooting is asked to call Crimes Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.