Wake Forest basketball assistant charged in deadly assault on NYC tourist
The man killed after an alleged altercation with a Wake Forest assistant basketball coach in New York died as result of a homicide, the New York City Office of the Medical Examiner has ruled.
Sandor Szabo, who once lived in Raleigh, died Tuesday after being allegedly being struck Sunday by Jamill Jones, who was hired by Wake Forest in 2017. The cause of death was a blunt impact injury of the head, a spokesman for the medical examiner told The News & Observer in an email Friday.
Jones has been charged with misdemeanor assault.
“The death has been ruled a homicide,” Sgt. Vincent Marchese with the New York City Police Department confirmed Friday to the Winston-Salem Journal. “(Jones) was charged with assault, but now that the medical examiner has deemed it a homicide, it will be up to the district attorney and the courts to upgrade the charges.”
Wake Forest athletic director Ron Wellman, in a statement released Friday by the university, said Jones had been placed on leave. Wellman said he spoke with Jones on Friday and that Jones agreed the decision was appropriate.
“Wake Forest University expresses heartfelt condolences to Sandor Szabo’s family and friends following his tragic death,” the statement said.
According to information provided in an email to The News & Observer on Friday by the New York City Police Department, the incident was first reported to police at 1:15 a.m. on Sunday.
Police were told a 35-year-old male had been punched by another male, and that the victim’s head hit the pavement as he fell backward. The victim lost consciousness, the report said, and he was taken to an area hospital in critical condition.
The man who threw the punch — later identified as Jones — “fled the scene,” the report said, in a white sport-utility vehicle.
Szabo, who has been living in Florida, died at 2:52 p.m. on Tuesday, the police reported.
Jones, 35, turned himself in on Thursday and was released. His next court date is set for Oct. 2.
Szabo has ties to North Carolina. His mom, Donna Kent, and stepfather, Bob Kent, live in Raleigh. His father, Balazs Szabo, lives in Hillsborough.
Efforts to reach Donna Kent were unsuccessful. When reached by phone, Balazs Szabo declined to comment.
Sandor Szabo, 35, once lived in Raleigh and attended Millbrook High School. According to his LinkedIn page, Szabo studied project management business administration from 2005-09 at DeVry University’s Raleigh campus and received a bachelor’s degree.
A close family member, who agreed to speak anonymously to the N&O, said they are waiting to get the coroner’s report, adding that there were false reports about Szabo’s final minutes before his death.
According to Jones’ biography on the Wake Forest website, he coached college basketball at Central Florida, Florida Gulf Coast and Virginia Commonwealth before coming to Wake Forest. Prior to his college coaching stops, Jones also spent five years as an assistant coach for Nike Team Takeover, an AAU summer-league team.
Staff writer Steve Wiseman contributed to this article.