Hundreds mourn former USF football player

As police look for a person of interest in the fatal stabbing of former USF football player Elkino Watson, 23, hundreds gathered at the Sundome to celebrate his life.

Watson was stabbed to death Sunday morning outside the Orpheum Nightclub in Ybor City.

He was celebrating his alma mater's victory over Florida A&M when he became involved in a fight.

"Now you have got three kids growing up without a dad, it's just, it's just heartbreaking," said friend Todd Chandler.

Chandler was grew up playing football with Watson in South Florida, and says the sudden loss has all Bulls feeling empty.

"He was always a funny guy, always the guy who was going to dance, make everybody laugh, just create a positive energy. He was loved by everybody," Chandler said.

Police are trying to figure out why Watson wound up in the middle of a brawl on Sunday morning outside an Ybor City nightclub.

They are looking for a person of interest and have identified others from the nightclub surveillance tape they'd like to talk to.

"There were lots of different people out there at that hour who know something about what happened," said Tampa Police spokesman Steve Hegarty.

Although the USF coach has since backtracked from original pleas for USF football players to avoid Ybor City, a debate has ensued over whether the historic neighborhood is safe.

Police insist crime there is down 80 percent since 2002.

"If anybody thinks that Ybor is more dangerous now, that's not the case," said Hegarty.

The debate and the open investigation cast a shadow over Tuesday night's service, which was attended by about 600.

"It's really hard, but I am pretty sure justice will be served," said friend Katura Levison. "He was well-known so I am sure we will find out who did it."

But that can't obscure the pain that so many are feeling, including those who loved Watson the most.

"His girlfriend, I heard her hollering, I heard her crying, when they were speaking," said Levison.