“Gone Too Soon” | HBCU Community Mourns The Loss of Clark Atlanta University Baseball Player Jatonne Sterling

Clark Atlanta University confirmed that sophomore baseball player Jatonne Sterling was shot and killed near the school’s campus on Tuesday. No suspect has been identified yet and police are still searching.

(Left photo) Jatonne Sterling collage of him playing during his freshman season, (right photo) Sterling and coach Ernest Radcliffe posing after winning a city championship at Morgan Park High School in Chicago. (Photos: Screenshots from Sterling instagram)

The AJC reports that approximately 10 members of the Clark Atlanta community held a candlelight vigil on Wednesday evening at 6:30 p.m. at the spot where Sterling was killed. The university posted a brief message on one of their social media accounts that stated, “Clark Atlanta Athletics send its condolences to Jatonne Sterling’s family and friends. Gone too soon. Please keep Jatonne’s family in your prayers.”

Details of the Shooting

The shooting took place on Tuesday at Lyke House Catholic Center off Beckwith Street next to a student housing complex just after 1:30 p.m. in the parking lot. The Catholic center is only 1 mile away from the Clark Atlanta campus and also faces the Robert W. Woodruff Library that serves all the Atlanta University Center HBCUs.

Police believe that Sterling knew the suspect that shot him and it wasn’t a random attack. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Some students planned a protest on Wednesday in support of Sterling because they felt the university didn’t show any support to their fellow classmate being killed. A group text message circulated around campus that stated, “Hey, yall after yesterday I’m hosting a protest outside of Harkess Hall at 5:30 pm and from there to walk to the candle lighting at 6:30pm. My class lost somebody yesterday and the school only had 3 sentences for us. Will you guys stand with me?”

It is not clear how many students made the three-block trek from Harkness Hall to Lyke House Catholic Center for Wednesday’s vigil.

Who Was Sterling?

The 20-year-old sophomore was a native of Chicago. He went to Morgan Park High School and was part of the 2021 graduation class. During his senior year, he helped his team finish with a 19-8 record and clinch a playoff berth. They lost in the Sectional Finals of the Illinois Class 3A State Finals, which is equivalent to the Sweet 16.

Sterling signed with Clark Atlanta shortly after his senior season as utility player that played third base, and he also was a pitcher.

Ernest Radcliffe coached Sterling in Little League baseball and football. He coached him during his high school years as well, and the two stayed in contact with each other after Starling went off to college. The coach described to local station WXIA what a 12-year-old Sterling said when he first met him.

“Coach, I will be your next best player,” Radcliffe said Sterling told him. “A great community person at Morgan Park High School,” Radcliffe continued. “He was outstanding, treated the elderly and women with much respect.”

Radcliffe also said Sterling was an honor roll student in high school.

“I don’t have any words to describe the hurt for this young man,” said Radcliffe.

He continued, “This man was very articulate. He was my right-hand man. He was the guy that I would put in the cameras.”

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