University of Mississippi track star Rodney Lydale Lockhart was found dead around 10 a.m. Saturday (Sept. 29) at his apartment at Taylor Pointe Apartments in Oxford, near the UM campus.
Lockhart, 20, a junior psychology major from Vaiden, was a member of the gold medal-winning U.S. 4x400 relay team in the 2006 World Junior Championships in Beijing.
"We are deeply saddened by Rodney's death," said UM Head Track Coach Joe Walker. "Our thoughts and prayers are with Rodney's family and friends. Our coaches and our student-athletes offer our deepest sympathy to his family."
Lockhart was shot and was pronounced dead at the scene by Lafayette County Coroner Lonnie Weaver, according to a release issued earlier today by Oxford Police Chief Mike Martin. Lockhart's death is being investigated as a homicide by the Oxford Police Department and the Mississippi Bureau of Investigations, Martin said.
"This is an unbelievable thing, and I'm having difficulty processing it," Walker said.
To help Ole Miss track athletes and coaches deal with the tragedy, Dean of Students Thomas J. "Sparky" Reardon and University Counseling Center Director Mark Showalter met with the team Saturday evening.
At the 2006 SEC Outdoor Championships, Lockhart finished ninth in the 400 meters and was a member of the 4x400-meter relay team that finished eighth. At the 2006 SEC Indoor Championships, he finished eighth in the 400 meters and was a member of the 4x400-meter relay team that finished fifth.
At the McCravy Memorial, Lockhart was the top collegiate finisher in the 400 meters, posting a time of 47.70.
"We had a great team, and we were going to have a great year," said Associate Men's Track Coach Brian O'Neal. "We had high goals, and Lockhart was an integral part of them."
OPD officers and an ambulance were dispatched to Taylor Pointe Apartments shortly after 10 a.m., following a 911 call from a male who stated he entered Lockhart's apartment and found him lying on the floor.
Lockhart is the son of Ronnie and Clarissa Lockhart of Vaiden. Arrangements are pending.