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Man charged with first-degree murder in shooting of former CU football player

The victim from Sunday's shooting at Eaglecrest High has been identified as a former footballer. The former CU Boulder safety was also an assistant principal at Hinkley High School in Aurora.

ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. — The victim from Sunday's neighbor dispute that ended in gunfire at Eaglecrest High School's parking lot has died, according to Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Deborah Sherman. 

Anthony "TJ" Cunningham, 46, was shot by his neighbor after an ongoing argument over a parking spot, the Sheriff's Office said. The pair lived near Eaglecrest High School close to Centennial city limits in Arapahoe County. 

Cunningham has played football at the college level for the Colorado Buffaloes and on the professional level for the Seattle Seahawks. He played safety. 

Credit: Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office
Marcus Johnson

Cunningham was also one of the assistant principals at Hinkley High School in Aurora, according to the school's website.

The Sheriff's Office identified the suspect as Marcus Alan Johnson, 31. 

Johnson was charged with first-degree murder after deliberation Friday morning. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for March 8 at 8:30 a.m.

According to new information provided by Sherman Monday, Cunningham and his neighbor had been fighting over this spot for a while and over the weekend a physical altercation broke out between the men. The pair continued to taunt each other over text afterward and agreed at Eaglecrest to "settle it," Sherman said. Cunningham was shot several times.

It is not clear at this time which person - Cunningham or Johnson - suggested the pair meet up to "settle it," but only one gun was brought to the parking lot, Sherman confirmed to 9NEWS on Sunday.

According to the probable cause statement for Johnson's arrest, Cunningham's brother, 18-year-old Tyrese McClinton-El, went with him to the school's parking lot. McClinton-El told the investigating deputy that Johnson and Cunningham had agreed to meet at Eaglecrest to they could "box it out." 

McClinton-El told deputies when Cunningham and Johnson arrived at the school they began walking toward each other and calling each other various names. According to the statement, Johnson said Cunningham had a bottle and then opened fire.

McClinton-El said Cunningham was unarmed, the probable cause statement said.

According to the Sheriff's Office, a passerby called at 9:20 Sunday morning to report the shooting. A few minutes later, Johnson called and told dispatch he'd shot his neighbor and that he'd been attacked by Cunningham earlier in the day. He told police he was going to go home, Sherman said, and deputies responded there. 

He came out of his house and said the gun was in the car and was then taken into custody, the Sheriff's Office said.

After the shooting, Cunningham was rushed to an area hospital for treatment. 

On Sunday, the Sheriff's Office said only one shot was fired. As the investigation has continued, 9NEWS has now been told Cunningham was shot several times: once in the head and once in the chest, according to the probable cause statement.

Cunningham played for the Seahawks during the 1996 season for nine games after being drafted in the sixth round by the team. He had a fumble recovery.

He was born in Aurora and graduated from Overland High School, according to DatabaseFootball.com, an online database of football statistics and history.

Aurora Public Schools and the University of Colorado Boulder have released the following condolence messages: 

"We are deeply saddened to learn that one of our assistant principals, Anthony (TJ) Cunningham passed away earlier today," Aurora Public Schools spokesperson Corey Christiansen said. "Our hearts are broken for Mr. Cunningham’s family. Our thoughts and prayers are with them during this tragic time. We will have additional counselors available at Hinkley High School throughout the week for students and staff who need additional support. We ask everyone to please keep Mr. Cunningham’s family in your thoughts."

“We were deeply shocked and saddened to learn of the death of T.J. Cunningham," CU Athletic Director Rick George said in a statement. "He was a good family man and had a strong passion for working with young people as evidenced by serving as an assistant high school principal. He was also a good alum, an active alum, and took great pride in being a Colorado Buffalo. Our hearts go out to TJ’s family on their tragic loss. We will miss him.”

A GoFundMe page has been set up to provide aid to Cunningham's family. 

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