June 4, 2005 | Ex-UM star 'of interest' in South Dade shootings

 

crabin@herald.com

Miami-Dade police have been looking for Washington Redskins safety and former University of Miami All-American Sean Taylor since Wednesday in connection with a pair of South Dade shootings in which no one was injured.

Police released few details and declined to say whether Taylor, 22, was considered a suspect, a victim or a witness to Wednesday's gunfire, which involved a stolen vehicle at one site and retaliatory shots at another vehicle at another. Saying the shootings are part of an open investigation, police refused to pinpoint where the shootings took place - or to name anyone they were interested in questioning in addition to Taylor.

"He is a person of interest that we need to talk to," said Miami-Dade police spokeswoman Nelda Fonticiella. Finding Taylor, she said, has been a "little more difficult than they planned."

Many people have had a hard time finding Taylor since the NFL season concluded in January. He was a no-show for a Redskins spring mini-camp in April at which coach Joe Gibbs said Taylor had not returned any of his calls.

Taylor's father, Florida City Police Chief Pedro W. Taylor, wouldn't comment on his son's whereabouts Friday, referring media to his son's mother. Taylor's mom, Donna Junor, 43, said she hadn't seen her son since Tuesday evening when she found him at home asleep.

"I haven't heard from him and I haven't been able to contact him," said Junor.

Junor said her son spent the entire spring with her in Homestead, never discussing football. Taylor is the second oldest of her four children.

In late April The Herald reported that Taylor was boycotting the Redskins' offseason workout program because he needed time away from football after a difficult rookie season.

Taylor and another former UM standout, wide receiver Santana Moss, were the Redskins' only unexcused absentees from that mini-camp. Taylor, a second-year player who had a fine rookie year despite causing migraines for the team off the field, said he wants to renegotiate the seven-year, $18 million contract he inked with the Redskins.

During his rookie year, the fifth overall pick in the 2004 draft fired two agents, was fined for skipping a day at the NFL's rookie symposium, and was benched for a game after being arrested on a charge of drunken driving.

In January that charge was dismissed, but he was still convicted of refusing to take a blood alcohol test.

Calls to Taylor's agent, Drew Rosenhaus - an outspoken regular contributor to local television sports broadcasts who has a host of South Florida and former UM clients, and who appears regularly on ESPN - were not returned by early Friday night.

Taylor left UM after a stellar 2003 season in which he earned All-American honors. He played high school football locally for the Gulliver Raiders, leading them to the Class 2A state title in 2000.

He has remained active in the community.

In September, after the Palmetto Bay Broncos Warner Division II Midget football team won its third national title in a row, Taylor - a former Pop Warner star himself - shelled out $17,000 to buy the kids championship rings.

Junor, who says she's a homemaker, expressed relief when told that police said no one was injured in Wednesday's shootings.

"I've been hearing rumors," she said. "One detective called and said to give him some numbers. He said he just wanted to question Sean. You know young kids, they just do what they want."

Herald Staff Writer Elysa Batista contributed to this report.

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