Slain High School Running Back Mourned By Teammates, Friends

19-year-old dies just hours after graduation.

By Shiba Russell
|  Wednesday, Jun 29, 2011  |  Updated 6:02 PM EDT
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Isayah Muller at graduation. He was later stabbed to death in an argument on the same day.

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A high school football star who was fatally stabbed in a Bronx parking lot just after his graduation ceremony is being remembered as a loyal teammate, natural leader and top athlete.

Isayah Muller, 19, was killed after he jumped into a dispute between his father and parking attendants on Tuesday over whether expensive cologne -- intended to be a graduation gift -- was stolen from his family's car.

The father, Andre Muller, was arraigned Wednesday and pleaded not guilty to charges of criminal possession of a weapon and assault stemming from the argument, during which police say he beat at least one attendant with a shovel.

The attendants, one of whom was badly hurt, were not expected to be charged in the stabbing. Sources said it appeared they acted in self-defense.

Players, alumni, classmates and coaches held an impromptu memorial service Wednesday morning on the football field, where they arranged candles under the goal posts to form the slain teen's jersey number, 21. The school said the number would be retired.

John-James Shepherd, head coach at Harry S. Truman High School, said Isayah Muller had a "limitless" future.

"Whatever that 'it' factor was, he had it," Shepherd said. "He wasn't a 'you guys do this' leader. He was a 'come follow me' leader."

Ronnie Varela, who lives in the neighborhood where Isayah grew up, said the two played together as children. 

"It's just a tragedy. I'm sending my condolences to the family," Varela, who says he last saw Isayah just three months ago, told NBC New York. "He was a great kid ... had respect for his family ... happy. It's just a shame."

Police said Isayah and his father arrived at the lot on Jerome Avenue in the Bronx at about 9 a.m. Tuesday and walked over to the campus of Lehman College, where graduation was being held for students from Truman High School. Following the ceremony, the family headed back to the car, said Paul Browne, the New York Police Department's chief spokesman.

An argument erupted initially between Muller's father and parking attendants, whom he accused of stealing something from his auto, Browne said. The father noticed the property missing from the car while the family was en route to a celebratory meal Tuesday afternoon on City Island, a fishing hamlet on the northern tip of the Bronx.

Andre Muller turned the car around and headed back to the parking lot, Browne said. The fight broke out and Isayah Muller was stabbed in the chest, though it's not clear by whom. The father and son ran to the family car where his mother and girlfriend were waiting and they drove him to the clinic. Muller was later transported to a hospital where he was pronounced dead shortly before 6 p.m., Browne said.

There was no answer at the garage early Wednesday.

Muller was headed to Nassau Community College on Long Island in the fall, according to his Facebook page.

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