Hillsborough High football player charged in connection to murder

Image 1 of 3

A star football player at Hillsborough High School is now facing possible prison time after Tampa police said the 17-year-old is connected to a July murder outside a South Tampa McDonald's restaurant.

Dontae Hopkins, a senior running back on the varsity football team, was charged with third-degree felony murder.

Investigators said Hopkins and Marquez Roberts, 19, met at the McDonald's to buy drugs from Nicholas Mortazavi. Steve Hegarty, a police spokesperson, said the teenagers tried to pay Mortazavi, 20, with counterfeit money, leading to an argument.

"The two suspects then arm themselves and [Mortazavi] ends up being shot to death," Hegarty said.

Hegarty said it took investigators several months to piece together what exactly happened outside the McDonald's.

Last week, the Grand Jury indicted Hopkins and Roberts, who is now charged with first-degree murder.

The day of the indictment, Hopkins seemed to have an idea what might be coming, tweeting, "[Prepared] for the worst, but still praying for the best."

By late Monday, the tweet had been deleted.

Hegarty said this is a situation that never should have happened.

"It's a shame," he said. "You look at the ages of the people who were involved and there are obviously involved in some illicit activity and, we've seen examples over and over again when people get together to do some illicit activity like that something goes badly and somebody ends up paying for it."

Some of Hopkins' former teammates were surprised to hear about the arrest.

"I was pretty shocked," said Daniel Driskell, a senior at Hillsborough High School. "I knew Dontae for a long time because me and him played sports together, through 9th grade, 10th, 11th, 12th and he's a real good person."

It's unclear based on the news release from TPD who police believe pulled the trigger, but Roberts faces the more serious charge. FOX 13 stopped by an address connected to Hopkins but no one answered the door.