FAMU President James Ammons Urges Students to Carefully Choose Friends

TALLAHASSEE Fla. — It was too late for Florida A&M women’s basketball player Shannon Washington, but the university’s president hopes that some good can come from a weekend tragedy at the school.

FAMU President James Ammons said the 20-year-old Washington’s death could serve as a “teachable moment” for people to be cautious about choosing friends.

“Get connected to the right people,” Ammons told a packed auditorium at an hour-long Sunday night vigil in Washington’s memory. “As you live your life, circle yourself with people with good character.”

Only hours earlier, Washington was stabbed to death by a friend who was pending the weekend with her.

Police spokesman Derek Friend said Monday that 20-year-old Starquineshia Palmer from Bradenton remained at the Leon County Jail after being charged with first-degree murder after an early morning dispute. Washington died from stab wounds she suffered from a kitchen knife in the neck and back, authorities said.

Members of both the Rattler and Florida State women’s teams attended a Sunday night vigil on the Florida A&M campus in honor of the slain player from Sarasota who had just transferred from Illinois Valley Community College, where she had averaged 19 points a game last season.

“For Shannon to be killed in the prime of her life is tragic and senseless,” Ammons said. “She had so much promise. This is a great loss for the university and our athletic program.”

Recruited as a shooting guard, Washington was considered to be one of the best players to join the Rattler program in recent years.

“She had a passion on the court and it showed,” said Rattlers’ coach LeDawn Gibson.

And others had noticed that passion, too.

“Shannon had been here only a couple of weeks and already she had made an impact,” Florida A&M athletic director Derek Horne said.