Brother of Falcons Player Arrested on First-Degree Murder Charge

Dante Fowler Jr.

Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images Justin Herbert of the Los Angeles Chargers is pursued by Dante Fowler Jr. of the Atlanta Falcons on December 13, 2020.

The younger brother of Atlanta Falcons edge rusher Dante Fowler Jr. and a second Florida man were arrested on murder charges in the shooting death of a college student, according to the Associated Press. Donterio Rashad Fowler, 25, was booked into the Pinellas County Jail in Clearwater, Florida, around 7 p.m. Monday, July 26, 2021, and was held without bail, according to online court records.

Per a news release from the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s office, Fowler and Keondre Quamar Fields, 23, have each been charged with first-degree murder with a deadly weapon in the December 2, 2016, shooting of Michael Zaldua, a 21-year-old Florida International University student and freelance photographer.

“Both Fowler and Fields were attending school in Miami-Dade County” at the time of the shooting, according to the release.


Police Found Cash & Suspected Drugs at the Scene of the Shooting

The news release from Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle’s office indicates that Zaldua was shot and killed in an off-campus parking garage.

“At the scene of the homicide, investigators located cash scattered around the victim’s body, a loaded Glock magazine also near the victim’s body, and a firearm inside of his jacket pocket. A large amount of blood was prevalent at the crime scene over which a vehicle had driven through, leaving a clear tire impression,” according to the news release, which noted that police also found suspected marijuana and cocaine in Zaldua’s vehicle at the scene of the shooting.

According to the release, additional evidence gathered since December 2016 led to the charges against Fowler and Fields. The AP reported that the pair “will likely be extradited to Miami to face the charges.”

“Hopefully, the arrests of the alleged perpetrators of this homicide will provide some solace to Michael Zaldua’s family in the knowledge that the Miami-Dade Police Department and my prosecutors never stopped searching for those responsible for his death,” said Rundle in the release.

A lawyer representing Fowler, Michael Grieco, told the AP that his client “has committed no crime” and that he intends to seek his release on bail.

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Dante Fowler Signed With the Falcons in 2020

Dante Fowler, 26, is a former first-round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars (No. 3 overall in 2015) who also played for the Los Angeles Rams before signing a three-year, $48 million contract with the Falcons in the spring of 2020. In his first year in Atlanta he had the least productive season of his career, responsible for just 23 total tackles, with three sacks, four tackles for loss, eight quarterback hits and one forced fumble.

The Falcons are hoping that new defensive coordinator Dean Pees can encourage more production from the former University of Florida star, who spent his entire rookie year on injured reserve and started just one game out of 39 games played for Jacksonville before the Jaguars traded him to the Rams for conditional third- and fifth-round draft choices.

Over the course of his six-year career, Fowler has started 34 of 77 games and has been responsible for 164 total tackles (116 solo). He has also registered 30.5 sacks, 38 tackles for loss, 51 quarterback hits, 13 passes defensed, seven forced fumbles and six fumble recoveries.

In March Fowler agreed to take a sizeable pay cut, one that reduced his 2021 salary from $13 million to $6 million, according to overthecap.com. The pay cut also reduced his salary cap hit from $18.541 million to $10.666 million, still large enough to account for 5.8% of the team’s 2021 salary cap.

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