Friends mourn ex-Indiana football player slain during unrest

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Restaurant owner Michael Cranfill poses in front of sign on the restaurant's boarded up windows in Indianapolis, Tuesday, June 2, 2020 to honor his friend former Indiana University football player Chris Beaty. Beaty was one of two people fatally shot in Indianapolis during protests over the death of George Floyd.(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

INDIANAPOLIS – To those who knew former Indiana University football player Chris Beaty, it was no surprise that he would participate in a protest over the death of George Floyd.

That a man they saw as a “gentle giant” who brought positivity everywhere he went would turn up dead in an alley after a peaceful demonstration turned violent was unfathomable.

“He promoted peace and understanding and love every way that he could,” said Michael Cranfill, a restaurant and craft beer taproom owner. “He is someone, I think, who would take every opportunity he could to bring people together.”

Beaty's body was found Saturday night not far from his apartment, one of two people fatally shot after violence erupted during an Indianapolis protest.

The death of the man who was known as Mr. Indianapolis because of his unwavering support and enthusiasm for the city was just one of several in the U.S. during a week of protest and unrest since Floyd died May 25 after a white Minneapolis officer pressed his knee into his neck for several minutes even after the handcuffed black man stopped moving and pleading for air. Others slain include a Louisville, Kentucky, restaurant owner who was shot by authorities trying to disperse a crowd; a federal officer in Oakland, California, who was shot at a courthouse by someone in a passing vehicle; and a man shot outside a pawn shop in Minneapolis.

Police in Indianapolis did not release details Tuesday of Beaty's slaying.

Arely Elrod said she met Beaty about a decade ago through mutual friends who would attend local events together.

“He was so selfless and always so positive,” said Elrod, who owns a cleaning service. “He felt like there was always a need in a time of hatred. He was always the one to make sure he made a difference.”