“The Sheer Tragedy Of This Loss” | Former Portland State University Football Player Charged With Murdering Black Student Union Leader

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Tragedy has struck Portland State University as former PSU Vikings football player Keenan Harpole is charged with second-degree murder in the slaying of a fellow student.

The running back is accused of killing PSU student Amara Marluke. According to reports, the incident might be connected to domestic violence.

According to a PSU professor, Marluke was a leader in the Black Student Union on campus.

A Promising Young Leader

“In my class, you could tell her passion for equity, justice, and change. And it really broke my heart when I learned that she was the person,” Bright Alozie, an assistant professor of Black studies at PSU, said to local news station KOIN 6 News.

“I saw her full of life enthusiasm, and she had a really bright future. And look what happened.”

According to reports, Harpole turned himself in on Monday afternoon and pleaded not guilty on Tuesday. He is also being charged with unlawful use of a weapon and is currently being held without bail at the Multnomah County jail.

PSU President Speaks

“It is with a heavy heart and deep sadness that I write to you today with details about yesterday’s tragic shooting that took place near our campus,” said Stephen Percy, president of Portland State University, in a statement released on April 5.

“As we shared, a woman was killed at around 1 a.m. yesterday morning. We learned that the alleged assailant, Keenan Harpole, is a Portland State student and a former football player. He turned himself in to authorities in Deschutes County and is currently in custody.

“This morning, Portland Police confirmed that the shooting victim, Amara Marluke, was also a student. Amara was an artist and an activist and a vibrant member of our community. Her death is mourned by all of us.”

“Rough Start”

Local reports describe the 19-year-old Marluke as a singer and songwriter studying music at Portland State.

“I am profoundly affected by the sheer tragedy of this loss,” Percy added in his statement. “My heart breaks for Amara’s family and for everyone who knew her. I offer my deepest sympathies. We will work together as a campus community to heal.”

Bradley Marluke, Amara’s foster father, told the media that his daughter lived in the foster care system and experienced a “rough start.” Amara was adopted at 9 years old, in addition to her younger sister.

Senseless And Violent Death

“To say that Amara was the light of our life, a beautiful and a caring soul would not begin to do her justice,” said Marluke’s father to The Oregonian via email. “Her dedication to her family and friends was unwavering and that she would fall victim to a senseless and violent death is unimaginable.”

Harpole “came to program with a strong high school background… a very good athlete… redshirt in 2021… among a group of young running backs trying to break through,” according to the 2021 PSU football roster website.

Who Is Keenan Harpole?

Before Harpole entered PSU, he reportedly lettered in football at Mountain View High School in Bend, Oregon. As a senior varsity football player in 2019, he rushed 225 times for 1,615 yards and 24 touchdowns.

According to the PSU roster website, Marpole was named first-team All-League, voted team offensive and defensive MVP, and competed in basketball, baseball, and track.

Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. Rhett hosts the PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider's take featuring the world's biggest names.