Hillsborough High athlete arrested on third-degree murder charge

The senior was a standout football player and is playing for the basketball team. Now the 17-year-old is being held in the county jail.
Published December 10 2018

TAMPA — Dontae Lamar Hopkins, a standout football player at Hillsborough High School, now faces a charge of third-degree murder involving possession of a firearm.

The 17-year-old senior was arrested just before 8 p.m. Thursday at his home in the East Lake-Orient Park neighborhood by Tampa police.

The Hillsborough Clerk of the Circuit Court said the arrest warrant was not available Friday.

He was booked into the Hillsborough County jail, where he was being held late Friday in lieu of $100,000 bail.

Just hours before his arrest on Thursday, Hopkins posted a somber message on Twitter: “Parpared (sic) for the worst , But Still Praying For The Best...”

Hopkins just finished his third season as a running back and safety for Hillsborough High’s varsity football team. He ran for more than 1,000 yards in his high school career with the Terriers. In November, Hopkins joined the school’s basketball team.

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When reached by the Tampa Bay Times, his coaches and principal declined to comment.

In September, Hopkins talked to the Times about his bond with Hillsborough High football coach Earl Garcia, who was there for him when he was shot and wounded in 2017.

Hopkins said that late one night in December 2017 he was “in the wrong place at the wrong time” and was shot in the lower body. When he awoke in a hospital bed, Hopkins said he saw Garcia at his bedside.

“I told him I loved him,” Garcia told the Times. “Then I asked him, ‘What the hell were you doing there?’”

Times staff writers Bob Putnam and Martin Fennelly contributed to this report. Contact Anastasia Dawson at adawson@tampabay.com or (813) 546-6611. Follow @adawsonwrites.