Ladarius Clardy, an 18-year-old quarterback from Kennesaw State University, was killed last Thursday after a shooter or shooters opened fire on his vehicle in the Florida Panhandle. The college sports star was found dead by police on July 1, though no arrests have been made at this time. Authorities are still investigating the tragic incident and are trying to understand what happened to Clardy and his unnamed 19-year-old passenger.
According to police, 50 bullets were fired into Clardy’s vehicle while he and his friend drove on a busy road in the Florida Panhandle. The sports star had just left a friend’s house and was driving through Pensacola when the shooter or shooters opened fire. No motive has been identified and the number of suspects is still unknown, admitted Sheriff Chip Simmons during a press conference.
The incident occurred just before 1 a.m. on Thursday, when “someone fired over 50 rounds into [Clardy’s] car, most of them into the car door, the driver’s door,” according to Simmons. Deputies with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office arrived on the scene and assisted EMS with rescue operations.
Clardy’s vehicle, a black Honda Accord, was found in a ravine in a wooded area, down an embankment along W. Fairfield Drive near Hollywood Avenue. Both Clardy and the unidentified 19-year-old passenger suffered multiple gunshot wounds. Ladarius Clardy was pronounced dead on the scene, but the 19-year-old passenger was taken to a local hospital and his condition is unknown.
The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office has made no arrests, however, detectives have tracked down three men who may be connected to the crime. Those men will be questioned by police, though no charges have been filed.
Along with the three men, authorities seized a black 2014 Ford Fusion, which is believed to have been used in the murder. It’s unclear whether the shooting was a drive-by incident or if the Ford Fusion was used as an escape vehicle.
Simmons confirmed that “the injuries that Ladarius Clardy suffered” during the shooting “ultimately took his life.” He continued, declaring that “this case cannot go unsolved. There’s a family that’s grieving, there’s a community that’s grieving. There are individuals within this Sheriff’s Office that are grieving. This is one of our children in Escambia County.”
All major crime units are investigating the case, and any individuals with information are urged to call the ECSO or Crime Stoppers. There is currently a $10,000 reward for any information leading to an arrest.
Ladarius Clardy was a beloved athlete, student, and church-goer. His family is devastated by their loss and Clardy’s father, Ladaron Clardy, told the Pensacola News Journal that “I never thought I’d be on this side.”
Ladaron Clardy told WKRG News 5 that his son was “my everything” and that “he was a great individual. A great kid with a great personality.” He continued, saying that “A lot of people see the sports side but Ladarius — he’d always keep A/B honor roll. He was an A/B honor roll student through school the whole time, including college.”
Ladaron said that “we talked every morning, whether I called him or he called me — whether it was a text message or a FaceTime — just to motivate each other. Just the small things; the simple things. He was my everything. He was more than a son.”
According to his father, Ladarius Clardy, nicknamed LD, was a cybersecurity major in Kennesaw State and wanted to start his own business. The 18-year-old was also a college football star, and played football as a quarterback at NCAA Division I FCS Kennesaw State University. “He had plans to play at the next level after college,” his father explained.
Pastor Joseph Marshall of St. John Divine Missionary Baptist Church told reporters that Ladarius Clardy “is not someone who is a loose kid out there running the streets. His family is very active. He attends our church, youth department, singing, participating in our entire youth department. I can’t express enough.”
Clardy’s death has done more than rocked his small community but has also ushered in a new perspective on gun violence. Jada Floyd, a friend of the Clardy family, told Fox5 Atlanta that “this really broke the city.”
“I don’t know why we have to use guns nowadays but it’s getting out of hand because they killed somebody so innocent,” she continued. Floyd wasn’t the only one who used Clardy’s death to decry gun violence.
Simmons explained during a press conference that Ladarius Clardy “is not just a statistic. This is a son. This is a friend. This is a teammate, and enough is enough.” The college star had a bright future ahead of him, according to his family and friends, who are devastated by their loss.