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Idaho State University assistant football coach arrested for Arizona murder

Posted at 10:14 PM, Jun 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-03 01:14:52-04

Idaho State assistant football coach DaVonte’ Neal has been arrested on suspicion of killing a man in Arizona and the school intends to terminate his contract.

Neal has been charged with one count of first-degree murder, one count of drive-by-shooting, and one count of discharging a firearm at a structure in the 2017 death of Bryan T. Burns. The indictment contains no details of what circumstances led to the shooting.

Neal was indicted by a grand jury in Maricopa County on May 16 and a warrant for his arrest was issued shortly after.

The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office investigated the shooting, but MCSO was unable to release information on the case. The shooting happened in a busy commercial area along Interstate 10 near Elliot Road.

He joined the Idaho team as cornerbacks coach in January — with the rest of the Bengals’ new coaching staff — and was arrested outside his apartment on May 25 by Pocatello police.

Idaho State University said it had placed Neal on administrative leave and had initiated proceedings to terminate his contract.

“I have been in constant contact with (ISU head coach Charlie Ragle) who has known DaVonte’ for many years and never had any knowledge or suspicion of a possible crime of any kind,” Athletic Director Pauline Thiros told the newspaper. “The news of DaVonte’ Neal’s arrest and charges in Arizona was a great shock. Going forward, we will cooperate in every way possible."

University President Kevin Satterlee said in a written statement that “Idaho State takes all allegations involving our employees very seriously, and we are committed to the safety and well-being of our community."

The university said in a press release Thursday that a background check on Neal before he was hired came back clean.

“All Idaho State employees are required to undergo a criminal background check before employment,” ISU said. “Neal’s background check was clear and he was approved for work when hired in January."

Neal played under Ragle at Chaparral High School in Scottsdale, Arizona, where Neal became a four-star athlete and went to Notre Dame before transferring to Arizona. Idaho State was the first college coaching position for Neal, who left his job as an assistant at Higley High in Gilbert, Arizona, to join the Bengals.

Neal was an assistant football coach and substitute teacher at Higley High School from June 4, 2021, to December 14, 2021, according to a Higley Unified School District representative.

"As a community, we are shocked and deeply saddened by the news and actions of this individual," HUSD said in a statement. "Please know that safety and security is a top priority for our district. DaVonte underwent a thorough criminal background check prior to employment at HUSAD and had no prior records."

Neal faces charges of first degree murder, drive-by shooting and discharge of a firearm at a structure.

Neal, who played college football at the University of Arizona, is being held without bail at the Bannock County Jail in the eastern Idaho city awaiting extradition to Arizona.