Friends and players packed a Westchester church Wednesday morning to memorialize the youth soccer coach who was brutally slashed to death in Manhattan early Sunday morning in an apparent case of mistaken identity.
Slain Youth Soccer Coach Mourned in Westchester
Michael Jones, 25, was slashed to death early Sunday morning in Union Square
By Katherine Creag and Andrew Siff
Hundreds came out in White Plains to remember "Coach Mike," who was brutally stabbed to death near Union Square in what may have been a case of mistaken identity. Katherine Creag reports. (Published Wednesday, Oct 10, 2012)
Updated at 9:24 PM EST on Wednesday, Oct 10, 2012
Hundreds of mourners packed the White Plains church to remember 25-year-old Michael Jones, who worked as a soccer coach for the New York Red Bulls youth program.
Jones -- known as "Coach Mike" to his players, "Jonesy" to his friends -- came to the United States from Liverpool, England five years ago to work with the Major League Soccer team'.
He was attacked in Union Square at around 4:30 a.m. Sunday, and later died at Bellevue Hospital.
"We're in disbelief," said David Jervis, the director of the Red Bulls Youth Program where Jones worked. "We loved him."
The memorial service comes a day after Jones' suspected killer, Orlando Orea, fled to Mexico, according to police. Investigators now say they think Orea mistakenly thought Jones was a man he had a bar fight with earlier in the night.
The NYPD is working to indict Orea in New York, so they can ask the US State Department to have Mexican authorities arrest him and extradite him back to the United States.
Jones, who lived in West Harrison, coached children aged four to 14, and many of his young players memorialized him Wednesday by wearing soccer jerseys with the number "6" on the back -- the number Jones wore as a kid playing in Liverpool.
Christian Gonzalez, a coaching director with the Armonk United and Castleford Rovers, said Jones had aspirations to rise to the top of his the coaching field, and loved living in New York City.
"We had big plans for him," he said.
Cathryn Kaehr's young son first played for Jones as a four-year-old.
"He thought of him as a protege," she said. "One day I can say he was discovered by the great Mike Jones."
Jones' body is expected to be returned to his family in England.