New York

College Places Assistant Basketball Coach on Leave After Arrest in Deadly Punch of NYC Tourist

A lawyer for Jamill Jones says he and his family "send their deepest condolences and their thoughts and prayers" to the family of the man he allegedly punched and killed

What to Know

  • Wake Forest has placed assistant basketball coach Jamill Jones on leave after police say he fatally punched a tourist who later died
  • Sandor Szabo, of Boca Raton, knocked on the window of Jones' SUV while looking for his ride after his stepsister's wedding, cops say
  • The coach got out, clocked Szabo and sped off, police said. He never regained consciousness and died; Jones pleaded not guilty to assault

Basketball powerhouse Wake Forest University has placed an assistant coach on leave after police said he punched a New York City tourist who later died.

Athletic director Ron Wellman said in a statement Friday that he spoke with assistant Jamill Jones and the coach agreed that the decision was appropriate under the circumstances.

Meanwhile, the parents of the Florida man who died say they don't accept the coach's condolences. Bob and Donna Kent told NBC's "Today" show that Jones should have tried to save their son Sandor Szabo's life after punching him early Sunday.

"If you're this good father, son, husband, why not try to take him to the hospital and see if you could save his life?" Bob Kent said.

Police say Szabo banged on Jones' SUV window outside a hotel in Long Island City, apparently thinking the vehicle was his Uber ride. Szabo was in town for his stepsister's wedding. 

A person familiar with the investigation told The Associated Press that Szabo may have been drunkenly knocking on car windows before Jones allegedly confronted him. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the person was not allowed to speak publicly.

Police say Jones got out, punched Szabo and sped off. Szabo fell and hit his head. He never regained consciousness and was taken off life support Tuesday.

The city medical examiner's office said Friday that Szabo's death was a homicide caused by blunt impact to his head.

Jones, 35, of Kernersville, North Carolina, turned himself in to police Thursday and was arraigned on a misdemeanor assault charge. He pleaded not guilty, and his next court appearance is scheduled for Oct. 2.

Jones, lawyer, Alain Massena, told the AP that the death was "a tragic accident, and Mr. Jones and his family send their deepest condolences and their thoughts and prayers to the Szabo family."

Donna Kent told "Today," ''I'm sorry, your condolences are a little bit too late."

Szabo, also 35, was visiting from Boca Raton, Florida, where he lived with his brother.

Szabo was vice president for sales at What If Media Group, a digital media company based in Fort Lee, New Jersey.

"He was always upbeat, positive, kind and caring," the company said in a Facebook post. "He was fun to be with, interesting, and always interested. He was a really good person."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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