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University of Tampa student’s family, friends mourn after shooting

Carson Senfield, who police say was fatally shot Saturday trying to get into a stranger’s car, was a 2021 graduate of Orchard Park High School in New York.
Carson Senfield, a student at the University of Tampa who graduated from Orchard Park High School in New York, was fatally shot early Saturday morning.
Carson Senfield, a student at the University of Tampa who graduated from Orchard Park High School in New York, was fatally shot early Saturday morning. [ The Orchard Park Central School District ]
Published Sep. 19|Updated Sep. 19

TAMPA — Family and friends are mourning the loss of a University of Tampa student killed early Saturday morning after he was shot while trying to get into a stranger’s car.

The student has been identified as Carson Senfield by the Orchard Park Central School District in New York. Senfield graduated from Orchard Park High School in 2021, according to a letter the school district’s superintendent, David Lilleck, sent to families on Saturday.

“Carson was a light in this world and will forever be a Quaker,” Lilleck said in the letter, referring to the school’s mascot.

Orchard Park is a small town southeast of Buffalo. In an email to the Tampa Bay Times, Lilleck called Carson’s death a tragic loss and said he was a great young man. Carson’s death was wide-reaching in the Orchard Park community, Lilleck said, because of his wide circle of friends and because his two siblings still attend high school there.

After hanging out with friends at the bars and businesses along South Howard Avenue, Senfield took an Uber ride to his home near the 1000 block of West Arch Street early Saturday, according to Tampa police. At about 1:20 a.m. Senfield got out of the Uber and, for reasons that remain unclear, walked to another car parked nearby and tried to get inside.

The owner of that car was in the driver’s seat and shot Senfield in the upper body, police said. The driver, who didn’t know Senfield or why he was trying to get inside his car, said he feared for his life when he opened fire, police said.

Senfield died at the scene.

The department did not release Senfield’s name or the name of the shooter, citing Marsy’s Law. The shooter has not been criminally charged and the decision whether to charge him will be made by the Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office, police said.

In the days since his death, Senfield’s friends, family and community have posted about the loss.

A GoFundMe was created for the Senfield family to provide a private flight to Tampa from New York, where his family lives. The fundraiser had raised $87,605 as of Monday, well over its goal of $25,000.

“The Senfield family is truly blessed for our time on earth with our beloved son Carson,” a statement on the page attributed to Senfield’s parents, Daren and Bridget Senfield, said. “He was an incredible young man with a passion for his friends and family.”

More than 900 people have donated to the GoFundMe since it opened on Sunday. Some left their thoughts in the comments.

“Carson was one of the best!!! Always displaying love, laughter and friendship everywhere he went,” The Shul family wrote,

Many comments were from parents of students attending the University of Tampa.

“My daughter, Cassie was a good friend of Carson’s at UT. She said that he was one of the best people she knew, and he could make her laugh like nobody else,” Christy Barber said in a comment.

Others shared memories on Facebook. Maria Braun said in a post that she was a former teacher of Senfield’s.

“On the first day of classes, Carson jokingly asked if I would call him “Hurricane,” Braun said. “The name stuck for the year. He was a goofball of a guy and he will be sorely missed.”

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Orchard Park Little League posted it was heartbroken to learn of Senfield’s death. He was an “alumnus, umpire and friend,” the organization said.

Lillian Lechner, a friend of the Senfield family, said on Facebook that Senfield was the kind of person you would want your children to emulate.

“Always respectful, selfless and dedicated to helping others, especially young athletes who looked up to him as a leader on the baseball diamond and hockey rink,” Lechner said.

The money raised from the Senfield family’s GoFundMe will also go toward providing opportunities for young men and women to have the same passion and success in college that Carson Senfield did, the fundraiser said.

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